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I Never Liked Grades

06/29/2010 3:53 PM - Mike Peck
Warning: The following blog post contradicts the current Web poll on icehogs.com

Arguably the only thing more pointless than doing a mock draft is grading a team’s draft days after a draft is complete.

So why in the world would we put a poll on our Web site asking to grade the Blackhawks recent 2010 NHL Draft class? Because that’s what fans want!  Same reason for mock drafts and all that hoopla that goes along with it.

It takes a good four-five years to evaluate a draft and maybe even longer in some situations in hockey. So that leads to my next question: What constitutes a successful draft? Is it the amount of NHLers that come out of it? Is it the number of “stars” that get picked?

Depending on how you look at it, the 2007 draft for the Blackhawks could be labeled as one the team’s best in team history or thinnest. Patrick Kane was selected #1 overall by the Hawks in ’07, obviously an NHL superstar that helped bring a Stanley Cup Championship to the Windy City. But from a depth standpoint, there is a good chance the Kane will be the only NHLer yielded out of that draft to play for Chicago.

Other skaters taken in that draft include Bill Sweatt (needs to be signed this summer or the Hawks lose his rights), Akim Aliu (traded to Atlanta), Maxime Tanguay (has yet to sign an NHL deal), Josh Unice (fallen off of hockey map), Joseph Lavin (still a possibility) and Richard Greenop (out of organization).

If teams are supposed to use a draft to reload, than this wasn’t the draft. The 2004 draft was though. Chicago had a whopping 17 picks in the 2004 draft and of those 17 players taken, seven played at least one game for Blackhawks including Cam Barker, Dave Bolland, Bryan Bickell, Adam Berti, Jake Dowell, Petri Kontiola and Troy Brouwer.

Chicago hit on 41% of their picks in 2004 and that’s counting Berti (2 games) and Kontiola (12 games) who had brief stints in Chicago and more than likely won’t be back in the show.

I would rate the ’04 draft ahead of the ’07 draft, but not by a whole lot. To get a cornerstone player in a draft isn’t something that some franchises ever get. For Pittsburgh to get Mario Lemieux, Jarmoir Jagr and then a decade later get Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin is a complete anomaly.

Other Blackhawks drafts that I would grade very high include the 2003 draft (Brent Seabrook, Corey Crawford, Mike Brodeur and Dustin Byfuglien) and the 2002 draft (Anton Babchuk, Duncan Keith, Matt Ellison, James Wisniewski and Adam Burrish).

So the ’03 draft yielded four NHL skaters out of 10 picks, and that’s counting Crawford and Brodeur who haven’t nailed down a consistent NHL job. The 2002 draft featured five NHL players out of the nine picked, a 55.6% success rate on the draft. That is Chicago’s best draft rate in the last 10-15 years and again, that includes Babchuk and Ellison who only played briefly for the Blackhawks.

Chris Etheridge looked at Chicago's drafts dating back to 1979 and found that on average, 37% of Chicago's draft picks have made the NHL. 20% of their picks played in 100 or more games, 16% 200 or more games and 15% have played in 300 or more NHL games. On average, Chicago averaged 10.83 picks per draft dating back to 1979.

Including this past weekend’s draft, we still have a lot of time before we can even think about evaluating the last three draft classes for the Hawks. To put it in perspective, the 2008 draft class will probably have a minimum of four players in Rockford (Kyle Beach, Shawn Lalonde, Ben Smith and Jonathan Carlsson). So there could be three players from that draft that will never sign on with the Blackhawks organization.

I would conclude that if a team had 10 picks in a draft (like what the Blackhawks did this past season), and four of them reached the NHL, it would be a pretty successful draft. Five of Chicago’s 10 picks were in the first two rounds this year, so this really illustrates how much of a crap shoot drafts are.

Looking at Chicago’s draft this summer, one thing is for sure, they went after big players! The smallest player is Mirko Hoefflin who stands 6’-0” and weighs in at 174 pounds.

Another interesting storyline to come out of the Hawks draft weekend is the acquisition of the Hayes brothers. Kevin was drafted by Chicago in the first round on Friday and then on Saturday the Blackhawks traded for his older brother Jimmy in a deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs.  To continue the Boston College-Rockford-Chicago pipeline, the brothers will both be attending BC this fall.



Hawks Are Stock Piling Draft Picks

06/24/2010 10:42 AM - Mike Peck
I know the knee jerk reaction to the Blackhawks trade of Dustin Byfuglien is a bit of disbelief among Blackhawks faithful. But what a deal Stan Bowman pulled off to not only clear cap space, but also set the organization up for a bit of replenishing.

The reality was and still might be, that a combination Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg and Patrick Sharp had to go to clear some cap space.  Once again, from a fan perspective, it’s tough to see a team get broken up less than two weeks after being the toast of the town. But with raises coming next year for Kane, Toews and Keith, something had to give. Plus throw in new contracts for Antti Niemi and Niklas Hjlamarsson who both need pay hikes as well, adjustments had to be made.

Colin Fraser is out along with Ben Eager and Brent Sopel.  Rumor mills have John Madden departing as well as Adam Burish. Andrew Ladd and Versteeg have been linked to trade rumors too. And we haven’t even touched the Christobal Huet issue.

Already, four players from last season’s Cup team are gone, and up to three to five more could be on the way out. It sounds pretty sour, but take a step back and look what the Hawks have to play with. Bryan Bickell looks like a lock for next fall’s roster and I wouldn’t be surprised if Jake Dowell and Jack Skille get a legitimate shot to make the team.

And now Joey Crabb is in the mix and I’m sure Chicago feels he could be a solid replacement for Madden if they elect to not re-sign him. The true core for the Blackhawks will remain despite the player shuffle.

To further reinforce these moves that Bowman has made so far, Chicago has picked up three more draft picks for this weekend’s draft and now hold five of the first 60 picks. What a great opportunity to restock the prospects! 

This of course would benefit Rockford as well, which will already have a very young team next season. By having so many picks, the Hawks could take a gamble or two in the draft like maybe take Russian center Evgeny Kuznetsov who is considered one of the top Russian prospects in the draft.

I’m sure the blueline will get addressed in the draft as well. Last season Chicago grabbed Dylan Olsen with their first pick. Olsen played last season at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and is a big body at 6-3, 220 pounds. Some names to keep an eye in the first round for Chicago include d-men Stephen Johns, Dylan McIlrath, Jonathan Merrill, Alexander Petrovic, Mark Pysyk, and Jarred Tinordi.

Reminder that the IceHogs are hosting a Draft Party on Friday night at Buffalo Wild Wings in Rockford on East State St. from 5-10 p.m. With an additional first round pick now, the party should be even more interesting now!