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Draft Picks Can Help the Blackhawks Without Ever Being Used

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Knowing that a slate of trades will likely be on its way for the draft, why shouldn’t the Chicago Blackhawks be looking to move up instead of waiting at 19 for the right guy to fall?

Hence the key phrase-the right guy to fall. 

Blackhawks’ fans patience has been buoyed by Connor Bedard being the first overall pick. With a generational player segueing the rebuild from a longer one to a shorter one, it’s certainly a chance to see if lightning can indeed strike twice.

Not only could they trade up, but maybe trading out to find another younger player who needs a change of scenery.

Blackhawks Can Afford to Take Calculated Risks

That patience needs to be something that is calculated risk instead of going down the Buffalo Sabres road of “well it’ll hit at some point.” The Blackhawks pipeline is already full of some very good prospects, some that may even pop beyond their initial ceilings.

Ilya Safonov is one such example. What about Gavin Hayes, too? The further down the draft board the lower the odds of that draft pick hitting. There is a whole series on this. Though the 19th pick is nothing to sneeze at and many a top end prospect has been taken there or later, the odds continue to decrease.

As written earlier in the week, the clock on general manager Kyle Davidson’s timeline starts to tick as soon as Bedard pulls the Blackhawks sweater over his head.  Whether it’s fair or not, it’s been a long time since Chicago had a winning hockey team. Toss out the 2020 Bubble Playoff series, and it hasn’t been since the 2015 Stanley Cup run that the Blackhawks have advanced in the playoffs.

Bedard being drafted only ratchets up some of the pressure. He solves some problems, but it certainly brings up that timeline. One interesting comparable could be Auston Matthews when he was drafted by Toronto.

Matthews walked into a more similar situation that Bedard is, but already had Mitch Marner and William Nylander in the fold. With Matthews added to the lineup, the Maple Leafs made the playoffs in 2016-17, much faster than anticipated. Nylander was drafted in 2014 and Marner in 2015. Both were major contributors to Toronto’s quicker turnaround.

Though the Blackhawks have Lukas Reichel who could develop into a significant piece of the puzzle, they’re still a few younger players short.

Trade Up or Trade Out?

Chicago certainly doesn’t want to back into a blunder. Hence, the challenge that faces Davidson. But there are a number of options that could fall into the top 15 because of an already crowded pool of prospects. A brief glance of previous drafts doesn’t see a lot of movement up unless there’s a bigger name involved going the other way.

Ottawa learned that the hard way last season–at the hands of the Blackhawks. Montreal shed its pick for Kirby Dach. Again, the Blackhawks.

But those pieces are not there and now with a treasure trove of picks in the second round, it’s the likeliest chance to bundle and move up. The difference between 15th and 19th could might be a short enough gap. The other part of it, too, as seen in the past, were taking on bad contracts from teams looking to free up space.

That could start at 14, where the Penguins could, too, weaponize their cap space. But they’re also looking to give Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin a shot at one more Stanley Cup.

It would also only be a five-spot jump. It could also snag a player who could help faster. Kevin Korchinski could be ready sooner. Maybe even a few others will arrive faster than anticipated.

But there’s one other thought, too. They can go another avenue in finding players who need a change of scenery. For every pick that needs to be draft and develop, there’s a Tage Thompson waiting to break out elsewhere.

But using the draft capital for more than just taking another player could also help move things along.

At the end of the day, it’s guesswork no matter the route they take.

But sometimes those picks can pay off without ever using it to select a prospect.

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