The Blackhawks finished the first round of the NHL draft Friday by selecting a player many expected to go closer to the end of the second round.
After trading down from 12th to 32nd in the Seth Jones trade, the Hawks picked Canadian defenseman Nolan Allan. Allan was ranked 40th among North American skaters in the Central Scouting Service’s final rankings and 59th among all players in TSN’s final rankings.
But the 18-year-old defenseman does boast a lanky frame (6-2, 195 pounds) and good instincts in his own zone. Scouting reports describe him as a stay-at-home defenseman and penalty-killing specialist who covers opposing forwards well but contributes little offense.
“What really stands out about [Nolan] is his compatibility,” Hawks scouting director Mark Kelley said. “[He’s a] really good teammate. He has a great presence on the ice. But it’s the subtleties of his game: he’s physical, blocks shots, kills penalties, plays a lot of hard minutes.”
A Saskatchewan native, Allan has played the last two and a half seasons with the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League, tallying 11 points in 81 games.
He also played for Canada at the Under-18 World Championships — an event Hawks general manager Stan Bowman scouted personally — in Dallas in April and May, tallying two points in seven games.
“You notice when Nolan Allan’s on the ice,” Bowman said. “He’s got the size, the skating and the physicality. He was a big workhorse for the Canadian team that won the won gold medal. He certainly caught my eye watching that game. We think those are the type of players you need to have success in today’s game.”
The Hawks likely see Allan and 2019 second-round pick Alex Vlasic as the conservative complements to the more offensively-inclined likes of Nicolas Beaudin and Ian Mitchell among their young defensemen.
A number of more well-known players — ranked higher on public lists, although clearly not on the Hawks’ internal board — were passed over, though, including defenseman Daniil Chayka and forwards Aatu Raty, Nikita Chibrikov, Francisco Pinelli and Colton Dach (Kirby’s brother).
Steel alum Power goes first
The Sabres choosing defenseman Owen Power with the first overall pick started banner nights for both of his two recent teams.
For the Chicago Steel, the Geneva-based junior hockey powerhouse where Power played in 2019-20, he was one of three alums to hear their names called as Matthew Coronato went 13th to the Flames and Mackie Samoskevich went 24th to the Panthers.
And for the University of Michigan, where Power was a freshman in 2020-21, he started an incredible run in which four of the top five overall picks were Wolverines. Forward Matthew Beniers went second to the Kraken, defensive recruit Luke Hughes went fourth to the Devils and forward Kent Johnson went fifth to the Blue Jackets.
“It’s pretty special,” Power told ESPN. “It’s something I’ve dreamed about my whole life. I don’t know if my younger self would’ve really believed it.”
Forward Mason McTavish, a Canadian juniors product, went third to the Ducks.
Top goalies Sebastian Cossa and Jesper Wallstedt, rumored to be on the Hawks’ radar before they traded the 12th pick, eventually landed with the Red Wings at 15th and Wild at 20th, respectively.
Hawks hold six Saturday picks
The Blackhawks enter Saturday’s second round with six more selections to make.
They own one second-round pick (62nd), two fourth-round picks (105th and 108th), one sixth-round pick (172nd) and two seventh-round picks (204th and 216th).