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Rebuild Report: The Last Draft for Stan Bowman



The Chicago Blackhawks 2021 Draft was the final for general manager Stan Bowman. In an ironic sense as it stands now, it was likely one of his most productive drafts, too.

Chicago Hockey Now continues the Rebuild Report series with the one draft that might yield talent in the mid to late rounds unlike any other.

To set the stage, the graph below comes from the well written Dobber Prospects piece  that focuses on the success of draft picks by round in the draft.  This is where our story starts.

Photo from Dobber Prospects – 5/16/20 article by Jokke Nevalainen

The big change for the 2020-2022 drafts center around the “hit” rate. Since many of those draft picks are still developing, it’ll be more of a look at where they’re at right now and what their contract status is with the team.

Chicago Blackhawks 2021 Draft Primer

The Blackhawks missed the playoffs again, but their first round pick was traded in the deal that brought Seth Jones to Chicago. Suddenly, Chicago all but abandoned the rebuild and was suddenly all in. The timing was curious, but because it’s relevant to the direction of things, general manager Stan Bowman was feeling the heat not only for the team’s performance, but also for the resulting Brad Aldrich sexual assault investigation. The rebuild on the fly was abandoned, but Bowman still brought a first round pick back in the Jones deal which actually belonged to Tampa Bay.

32nd overall pick (1st round) – Nolan Allan (D)
Where is he now? Seattle Thunderbirds
Contract: Entry Level Deal Through 2026

Allan has been written about extensively at CHN and recently starred with Blackhawks prospects Colton Dach and Kevin Korchinski. A gold medal winner with Canada at the World Juniors, a Western Hockey League champion, and a Memorial Cup runner up, Allan has been seeing his trajectory point up throughout the season.

62nd overall pick (2nd round) – Colton Dach (C)
Where is he now? Heading to Rockford
Contract: Entry Level Deal Through 2026

Like Allan, Dach only seemed to get better as the season wore on. Coming back from injury, he was especially good in the postseason for Seattle. CHN previewed Dach in May and like Allan, has his arrow pointing up even more. At the time, his brother was still with the organization which made for a feel-good story for the Dach family. Obviously, Kirby Dach was dealt at the next draft.

91st overall pick (3rd round) – Taige Harding (D)
Where is he now? Providence College
Contract: Unsigned

A towering 6’7 defenseman, Harding finished up his sophomore season with 17 points (3-14). He has yet to sign a deal and it’s likely a strong junior campaign could put him on Chicago’s radar to offer him an entry-level deal.

105th overall pick (4th round) –Ethan Del Mastro (D)
Where is he now? Sarnia Sting
Contract: Entry-Level Deal signed through 2026

Del Mastro is shaping up to be a middle round gem and when profiled by CHN, has intangibles that will are highly sought after starting with his strong leadership skills. He had a great season playing over a point-per-game and is another defensive prospect trending up in what is a crowded pipeline.

108th overall pick (4th round) – Victor Stjernborg (C)
Where is he now? SHL
Contract: Unsigned

Stjernborg made the jump to the Swedish Hockey League and will be there for another season to hone his game more. Described as a strong two-way forward, Stjernborg is another in a pipeline full of centers.

172nd overall pick (6th round) – Ilya Safonov (C)
Where is he now? KHL
Contract: Signed to Ak Bars through 2025

Noticing a trend yet? Safonov blew off the doors in the KHL and had 19 goals and 37 points in one of the strongest leagues overseas. He reminds of Pavel Datsyuk–who was also a sixth round pick. He’s under contract in the KHL until the conclusion of the 2024-25 season. Should he have another great year as the now-captain of Ak Bars, the Blackhawks will need to find a way to woo him to Chicago.

204th overall pick (7th round) – Connor Kelley (D)
Where is he now? Providence College
Contract: Unsigned

Teammates with Harding, Kelley transferred in and had six points in his junior season.

216th overall pick (7th round) – Jalen Luypen (C)
Where is he now? Rockford
Contract: Entry Level Deal Signed Through 2025

Rounding out arguably Bowman’s most productive draft, Luypen is with Rockford and signed through 2025. He played in three playoff games for Rockford without registering a point.

2021 Draft By The Numbers and Final Thoughts

  • How many draft picks are either in Rockford or Chicago? 2
  • Draft by position: Centers – 4; Defensemen 4

In his final draft, Bowman and his front office did quite well in terms of finding talent that would stick and develop. Again, 2021 was wonky in the fact that it was still post-Covid with not as much playing time as usual. Chicago’s center and defensemen are pretty full in the pipeline. This draft contributed to it with an even split of four apiece.

The fun part will be seeing which of the players make their way to Chicago and become a part of what could be a contender again with Connor Bedard headed to the Blackhawks.


Previous Rebuild Report Draft Pick Series: 2015 Draft – Swing and a Miss | 2016 Draft – Delightfully Drafting DeBrincat |   2017 Draft – Trading to only Trade It Away Later | 2018 Draft – Boqvist Goes Eighth | 2019 Draft – Dach Instead of Defense | 2020 Draft – Mid Round Surprises