The first time Chicago Hockey Now looked exclusively at left wings the Chicago Blackhawks could take. Now, we’ll open it up a bit to include both sides that flank the centerman.
This time, though, we’ll look at some of the forwards who if they slip into the early teens could provide some value. Though the top ten is tougher to break into via trade, maybe a few later picks with the 19th would be enough to move up and snag a talented winger. Stranger things have happened at the Draft, and sometimes there are surprising slides.
Here’s a look at some of these forwards that might be available and on the wing. It might take a prayer or two for them to be available at a spot where Chicago could make a deal to afford the move up. But the Blackhawks would certainly benefit if it indeed happens.
RW Matthew Wood – University of Connecticut
Montreal Hockey Now Mock Draft: 11th overall to Vancouver
TSN’s Craig Button recently ranked Wood as the eleventh best prospect in the Draft, something that holds weight as both he and colleague Bob McKenzie are often the most plugged in. If this holds up, he likely won’t be there. Wood’s appeal starts with his size at 6’4 and how that size doesn’t hinder his ability to make plays on the puck as more of a playmaker. The bigger frame doesn’t hinder his release or quick shot–and he’s a threat any time he has the puck in the offensive zone.
LW Eduard Sale – Brno
Montreal Hockey Now Mock Draft: 22nd overall to Philadelphia
Sale has been an odd case in mock drafts as he’s been ranked as high as seventh and as low as 32nd. But there’s no denying the talent he has, no matter where he’s taken. The vision he has on the ice is next level and he leads plenty of rushes and is going to be pass-first on most of them. His touch passes are on right on the tape, and he puts his teammates in great spots to cash in. Critiques from most analysts centered around his compete level being consistent, and that could be what keeps Chicago from taking him at 19 or trading up at all for him. But the raw skill that is there is impressive.
RW Ryan Leonard – US Developmental Program
Montreal Hockey Now Mock Draft: 5th overall to Montreal
It’s next to impossible he’s going to be available at 19. But Leonard’s range in most mock drafts have him going from 6th – 13th and he’s a candidate that should Chicago trade up into the higher teens, he could be the target. Leonard is a coach’s dream–a player that would remind Blackhawks fans of Andrew Shaw–perhaps even more dangerous offensively. He’ll get his nose dirty, while displaying high end skill that can cash in quicker than opponents. And his speed is something to behold. Watching him on the international stage against the world’s best–and often times blowing past them on the ice–will make any team thrilled to add him to its prospect pool.
He’s another the Blackhawks should watch closely should he inexplicably slide out of the top ten. It’d be worth the call to determine the cost.
LW – Zach Benson – Winnipeg ICE
Montreal Hockey Now Mock Draft: 8th to Washington
Benson has been on average a top-ten pick with nearly every analyst except for Button, who placed him 14th in terms of ranking. Hence, he’s another candidate for Chicago to trade up for should he fall that far. It’s doubtful he does. An offensively gifted speedster who scored at will with Winnipeg with 98 points (36-62) in 60 games. Add in the 17 points (7-10) in 15 postseason games and Benson is a multidimensional playmaking threat. Benson’s ICE team lost to the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL Final but they had a heck of a time containing him. He had both Winnipeg goals in Game 2, and finished the five game series with five points (3-2).
It’s likelier he’s snapped up even before where the Hockey Now Mock Draft had him, but if he’s one to fall out of the top 10, the Blackhawks would be smart doing some due diligence and finding out the cost to move up.