NHL draft lottery 2018 results: Blackhawks fall to No. 8 pick
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The Blackhawks didn’t hit the jackpot on Saturday night, but they still feel confident they’ll get an impact player with their highest draft pick since 2007, when they selected Patrick Kane first overall.
The Hawks will draft eighth — actually falling a spot considering they had the seventh worst record — on June 22 in Dallas after failing to move into the top three during the draft lottery held Saturday night in Toronto. They had a 6.5 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick and a 20.4 percent chance of jumping into the top three. Buffalo won the first overall selection, followed by Carolina and Montreal.
Chances are, the Hawks’ top pick won’t be a difference-maker next season. Only 10 players selected in the 2017 draft played in the NHL this season, and only the top two picks — New Jersey’s Nico Hischier and Philadelphia’s Nolan Patrick — played in more than nine games.
So while the Hawks desperately need some help on the blue line — sure-fire No. 1 pick Rasmus Dahlin would have been awfully nice — they won’t feel hemmed in to picking only defensemen.
“A lot of things play into the pick,” Hawks head scout Mark Kelley said. “But the first thing you want to do is find a player that can impact the team. If you strictly go on [positional] need, I think you’re doing a disservice in the long run.”
A quick look at recent history suggests the Hawks still could get a significant piece of their future. In the 2016 draft, Arizona chose dynamic forward Clayton Keller seventh overall, and he’s a Calder Trophy finalist after a 65-point rookie season. Two picks later, Montreal selected defenseman Mikhail Sergachev, who is playing a major role for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Eight of the top 10 picks in the 2016 draft already have played at least 71 NHL games. Other recent No. 8 picks include Columbus defenseman Zach Werenski (2015), Toronto forward William Nylander (2014), Buffalo defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen (2013), Vancouver defenseman Derrick Pouliot (2012) and Philadelphia center Sean Couturier (2011).
So who might the Hawks get at No. 8? Perhaps defenseman Noah Dobson, who had 17 goals and 52 assists in 67 games in the QMJHL. Or maybe American center Oliver Wahlstrom, who posted 22 goals and 23 assists in 26 games with the U.S. National Development Team. Other possibilities include Swedish defenseman Adam Boqvist, University of Michigan defenseman Quinn Hughes, OHL center Barrett Hayton and Finnish center Jesperi Kotkaniemi.
Kelley said all drafts are pretty much the same after the first 30 or 40 picks but that this first-round crop is particularly strong and deep.
“Obviously, at the top end of the draft, you have a higher percentile of players who can come in and contribute,” Kelley said. “I don’t think you can say we’re looking to fill a need — an immediate need —with the draft. Obviously, if you’re fortunate to win one of those lottery picks, those type of players fill a need, whether you think you need it or not. Those are the type of players that can come in and impact the team.”
Among the players expected to go shortly after Dahlin are OHL winger Andrei Svechnikov (40 goals and 32 assists in 44 games), Boston University winger Brady Tkachuk (eight goals and 23 assists in 40 games), QMJHL winger Filip Zadina (44 goals and 38 assists in 57 games) and OHL defenseman Evan Bouchard (25 goals and 62 assists in 67 games).