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By: Nate Haeni
Rockford Ill. – For the second straight season, the Chicago Blackhawks find themselves slated to pick 18th overall in the upcoming 2012 NHL entry draft.

Last year, the Blackhawks selected center Mark McNeill with their first choice before taking winger Phillip Danault later in the first round with the 26th overall pick, a draft choice received from the Washington Capitals.

Today is looking back through the last 20 years and will give a year-by-year breakdown of who went at the 18th spot and their accomplishments last season.

First round 18th NHL Entry Draft picks

2011: Mark McNeill (C) Chicago Blackhawks- McNeill finished up his fourth season in the WHL with the Prince Albert Raiders in 2011-12, recording 31 goals and 40 assists. The Edmonton, Alberta native then made his professional debut and joined the IceHogs for the final seven games of the season. In September, if McNeill doesn’t make the Blackhawks squad he will return to his junior club.

2010:  Austin Watson (C) Nashville Predators- The Ann Arbor, Mich. native split time in the OHL with the Peterborough Petes and London Knights. In the 61 total games he racked up 68 points (25g-43a).  

2009:  Louis Leblanc (C) Montreal Canadians- Leblanc got a taste of the AHL and NHL in 2011-12. He spent 31 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs, registering 22 points (11g-11a), and also tallied 10 points with the Montreal Canadiens in 42 contests.  

2008:  Chet Pickard (G) Nashville Predators - He played between the pipes during the 2011-12 season with the Cincinatti Cyclones (ECHL) in which he went 14-12-2.  His save percentage was .890 and a goals-against average of 3.12.   

2007:  Ian Cole (D) St. Louis Blues- Cole split his time with the Peoria Riverman (AHL) and the St. Louis Blues (NHL) last season.  In the AHL he played 22 games and had four points (1g-3a).  He also played 26 games with the big league club (St. Louis), during which he had six points (1g-5a) and a plus/minus of +7.

2006:  Chris Stewart (RW) Colorado Avalanche- After getting traded to St. Louis a season ago, Stewart returned to the club for his first full season. He racked up 30 points and 109 penalty minutes in 79 games with the Blues.

2005:  Ryan Parent (D) Nashville Predators – Parent spent the 2011-12 campaign with the Chicago Wolves.  He appeared in 22 games for the Wolves in which he had six points (1g-5a).

2004:  Kyle Chipchura (C) Montreal Canadians- Chipchura started the season in Portland, recording four goals and two assists in eight tilts with the Pirates. The Westlock, Alberta native finished the campaign by chipping in three goals and 13 assists with the Phoenix Coyotes, along with four points in the Coyotes Stanley Cup Playoff run.

2003:  Eric Fehr (RW) Washington Capitals-The Winkler, Manitoba native appeared in 35 games in Winnipeg with the Jets. He finished the campaign with two goals and a helper.

2002:  Denis Grebeshkov (D) Los Angeles Kings- For the second straight season he spent his time playing in the KHL for the St. Petersburg SKA where he tallied assists in 46 games and had a +17 ranking. Between Nashville, Edmonton and L.A., Grebeshkov has played in 227 career NHL games.

2001: Jens Karlsson (LW) Los Angeles Kings- Last season Karlsson played for Boras HC (SWE-1) for the second straight campaign, during which he tallied 23 points (10g-13a) in 50 games. Karlsson has never played professionally in North America.
2000:  Brooks Orpik (D) Pittsburgh Penguins- Orpik has spent all 10 years since being drafted with the Penguins. In his 2011-12 season he had 18 points (2g-16a). The San Francisco, Calif. native has played 585 regular season and 75 postseason games in the NHL.  

1999:  Konstantin Koltsov (RW) Pittsburgh Penguins- In his sixth season with the Ufa Salavat Yulayev (KHL), Koltsov recorded 12 points (1g-11a) this year. Koltsov played 144 games on-and-off with Pittsburgh tallying 38 points (12g-26a).

1998:  Dmitri Kalinin (D) Buffalo Sabers- Kalinin spent another season in the KHL, this one with St. Petersburg, where he notched 35 points in 52 tilts. Kalinin spent 10 seasons in the NHL where he played in 539 games and had 162 points (36g-126a).

1997:  Michael Holmqvist (C) Anaheim Ducks- During the 2011-12 season Holmqvist played for the Linkoping HC (SEL) during which he ended up with two assists in 48 contests. He has played 156 games in the NHL with the Ducks and the Blackhawks which earned him 35 points (18g-17a).

1996:  Matt Higgins (C) Montreal Canadians- The 2010-11 campaign was Higgins’ last season of hockey. In 48 games with the Ljubljana Olimpija HK (Aust) he had 46 points (21g-25a).  All of his 57 games in the NHL were played with the Canadians, recording three points (1g-2a).

1995:  Petr Sykora (C) New Jersey Devils- Sykora found himself in 82 tilts with the New Jersey Devils and another 18 playoff games. The Plzen, Czech Republic native registered 44 points (21g-23a) in the regular season and five more as the Devils fell just short of the Stanley Cup. Sykora has played in 1017 NHL games for the Devils, Ducks, Oilers and Penguins for which he had 721 points (323g-398a).  

1994:  Brad Brown (D) Montreal Canadians – The 2008-09 season was the last time Brown played professional hockey.  In that year he played for the Fresno Falcons (ECHL) registering two assists in 16 games.  Brown also played 46 games for the Quad City Flames (AHL) tallying two points (1g-1a).  In his NHL career he played 330 games with five different teams including the Blackhawks.  During his NHL time he had 23 points (2g-21a).

1993:  Jesper Mattsson (RW) Calgary Flames- Last season Mattsson played for the Malmo Redhawks (Swe-1) recording 49 games and 35 points (16g-19a). Mattsson played three seasons in the NHL before returning to Sweden.    

1992:  Jason Smith (D) New Jersey Devils- 2008-09 was the last season the Calgary, Alberta native played in the NHL.  After spending 15 years with five different teams, he played 1,008 games and had 169 points (41g-128a).  

1991:  Glen Murray (RW) Boston Bruins- Murray played every year since being drafted in the NHL.  He spent nine out of his 13 seasons with the Bruins. He participated in 1,009 games before he left the league after his 2007-08 season.  During that time he had 651 points (337g-314a).  

Check out all week as we preview the 2012NHL Entry Draft.
Monday, June 18th:  Draft Breakdown
Tuesday, June 19th:  Mock Drafts
Wednesday, June 20th:  Breakdown of the Blackhawks first overall picks over the past 20 years
Thursday, June 21st:  A look at the first round draft picks who have played for Rockford
Friday, June 22nd:  An update on the progress of all of Chicago’s draft picks from the 2009-2010 draft

Season Tickets for 2012-13 Now on Sale: Season ticket packages for the IceHogs 14th season of professional hockey in Rockford, including sixth as the AHL affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks, are now on sale. Call   (815) 847-6399  to reserve your seats or visit for more information.

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