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Blackhawks take six in 2019 Entry Draft

2019-07-24

The Chicago Blackhawks came into this past Sunday's Entry Draft with just a single selection: a third-round pick at 77th overall. They left Vancouver on Tuesday night with a treasure trove of young players and managed to improve their pro roster in the process.

The Hawks took six picks at the draft table - much more on them below. But it was what they did before and during that led to those picks that became the story amongst insiders on the draft floor.

Sportsnet's Elliotte Freidman broke the news just prior to the draft's 2:00pm EDT start time that the Blackhawks had flipped Jonathan Quick, previously acquired in a contract-dump move by the Arizona Coyotes, to the New Jersey Devils. Chicago made six more deals during the three-day draft - some of which trace back to that Arizona deal.

In a nutshell, here's how those deals shaped up:

Traded: Curtis McElhinney, Columbus' 5th round pick in 2020
Acquired: Nathan Bastian, Curtis Lazar, Jordy Bellerive, Arizona's 2nd round pick in 2020

Quick was flipped from Arizona to New Jersey via the Blackhawks, resulting in two additional assets for Chicago. In essence, McElhinney alone was dealt for the package above, as in an odd twist of fate, McElhinney ended up being moved again with that Columbus 2020 5th round pick to the New York Rangers. The Rangers would later deal that 5th back to Chicago in a "picks-only" trade during the draft.

Traded: Colton Sissons, David Farrance, San Jose's 4th round pick in 2019, Chicago's 2nd round pick in 2020
Acquired: Jesper Fast, Tristan Jarry, three 2019 draft selections (see below), Columbus' 5th round pick in 2020

To get here, Danton Heinen was the catalyst. Sissons and the SJ 4th were moved for Heinen, who was then moved to Buffalo for what ended up being four draft picks (it was originally three, but Buffalo re-acquired one of them for two additional picks later in the draft). One of the picks - #82 overall - was dealt to Calgary for Jarry, while another along with Farrance was moved to Philadelphia for Fast.

Got all that?

The Hawks made three other deals around draft time (if you can believe it):

Acquired: Colin Miller, Markus Nutivaara, Justin Holl, Tampa's 4th round pick in 2019, Detroit's 4th round pick in 2019
Dealt: Alex Iafallo, Derek Forbort, P-E Bellemare, Jacob Middleton, Antti Suomela

Rumors continue to swirl that the Hawks have one more deal coming down the pike. TSN's Darren Dreger reported during the draft that Chicago had agreed to the outline of a trade with Montreal for Max Pacioretty. Blackhawks GM Thomas Gidlow was non-committal when asked, stating only that anything related to any post-draft deals would be announced next week.

In all, the action at the draft has solidified Chicago's defensive corps and has likely left only two potential roster holes heading into the free agency period. The 4th line center position could feasibly go to one of Curtis Lazar, Carter Verhaeghe, or Andrew Agozzino, while the backup goaltender spot may see either Jarry or Troy Grosenick in competition for the position.
 

With their first pick (third round, 77th overall), the Blackhawks selected the versatile defenseman Ben Gleason, who went undrafted in the NHL but signed a pro contract out of the Ontario Hockey League. In his first 72 professional games, Gleason shined with 37 points and earned a brief call-up to the big time (4 games, one assist, nearly 15 minutes of ice time per game). Figures to compete for the top six on the NHL's Dallas Stars in 2019-20 - at worst, Gleason will get another season as a leader of the backend in Texas of the AHL. Could be on the EHE's Chicago pro roster next season.


At pick #85 of the third round, Chicago took Johan Sodergran, a hulking sniping winger out of the Swedish Elite League. Signed with the NHL's Los Angeles Kings this summer after being drafted in the sixth round of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft. With the NHL Kings in desperate need of scoring, it's possible Sodergran will get a long look at training camp. Most likely he'll get at least a year in Ontario of the AHL to adjust to the North American game. Projects as a steady top-nine presence and may see the Windy City in a couple of years.


With pick #95 of the fourth round, the Hawks selected USHL product Martin Pospisil, a 6'2" center with a knack for setting up his linemates. Pospisil plays with an edge (he had over 250 PIM's with Sioux City in just 49 games in 2017-18) but rose his stock considerably after shunning the NCAA and opting to return to the USHL. His 1.43 PPG last season put him in seventh in the USHL, behind only Jack Hughes, Alex Turcotte, Bobby Brink, Matthew Boldy, Trevor Zegras, and Cole Caufield. Signed by NHL Calgary this summer, Pospisil should compete for top opportunities with Stockton of the AHL.


Chicago took Princeton standout Ryan Kuffner with the 117th pick of round four. At 23 years old, the time may be now for the 6'1" winger, who appeared in 10 games with limited ice time with NHL Detroit last season. Easily projects as a top-nine forward if he can replicate his collegiate goal-scoring prowess (75 goals over four seasons), but may need some time in the AHL before making his mark in the big time.


At the tail end of round four, the Blackhawks chose winger Lauri Pajuniemi at pick #124. Perhaps the closest thing to a stretch that Chicago drafted, Pajuniemi will need some seasoning in North America unless he surprises and makes the NHL club out of training camp. Otherwise, it could be a while until we see an EHE impact, as the 19-year-old may opt to head back to TPS in the Finnish Elite League before coming over in 2020.


The most curious pick just happened to be Chicago's last one, as the Hawks took diminutive center Arttu Ruotsalainen with the 133rd pick of round five. Undrafted in the NHL, Ruotsalainen signed an entry-level contract with NHL Buffalo this summer and has a legitimate shot to make the Sabres out of camp. He posted an impressive 42-point campaign for Ilves in the Finnish Elite League and contributed seven points in seven playoff games last season.


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I'm planning another podcast soon regarding the draft and the moves teams have made thus far. If you want to be interviewed or take part (recording will be this Sunday), just let me know!




Stephen Gough

Well done, looks amazing. Wish I had this skill and means to put something like this together.

Blackhawks take six in 2019 Entry Draft
Plus: How McElhinney & Sissons became nine assets

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