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Validation for Blackhawks Draft Strategy? Look at Roope Hintz

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Go back and look at the previous five Stanley Cups and outside of the 2019 St. Louis Blues, it’s hockey IQ, scoring, and speed that captured the Cup. The Blues, while obvoiusly talented, were heavier and a little more gritty rather than pretty.

To each their own.

But as the final four of teams duke it out in the Conference Finals, that equation of speed plus skill with a heaping helping of hockey IQ has factored into the winning strategy.

The examples are everywhere and for how Kyle Davidson and the Blackhawks have drafted during his two plus years on the job, there’s some hope in what he’s doing.

A look at a few players snagged by opposing teams that have made some loud noise in the 2024 NHL Playoffs.

A Look at Roope Hintz

Hintz was selected in the second round by the Dallas Stars, acquired by general manager Jim Nill from his old boss Ken Holland back in 2015. Holland received Erik Cole and a pick–which ended up helping Detroit keep its then playoff streak alive, but hurt in the long run as Cole would be shelved due to injury.

Nill, meanwhile, took Hintz with the 49th overall pick. A look back at how he was graded out at the time as highly intelligent with the wheels to show for it. Elite Prospects, back in 2014, specifically pointed out his intelligence, and ability to create space without being overly physical. Beyond that, he was lauded for his ability to outskate opponents. TSN’s Craig Button pegged Hintz as his 58th best prospect at the time, comparing him to Lars Eller. A look at Button’s colleague, and draft guru Bob McKenzie’s final rankings reveals what we all know about the draft: there’s an awful lot of luck involved in selecting beyond the first round. CHN looked at those odds last week.

So Hintz was an absolute hit for the Stars, a guy who they selected based on their draft strategy and one who has flourished in the system. It’s one win after another. Hintz developed into a star for Dallas and in Game 3 of the Western Finals, played an integral role in the victory.

How does it relate to the Blackhawks? Simple–stick with the strategy.

Hintz Shows Blackhawks Are Following a Wise Blueprint

Look at Davidson’s work so far. It’s been an absolute target of high hockey IQ, speed, and skill.

Rinse and repeat. That isn’t to say they don’t need the physical guys, the muckers and grinders who protect and thrown down when needed. They too, can score the big goals–albeit at a lower clip.

But those are usually the role players–ones acquired later once the heavy foundational building has been completed. So finding those value pieces, like Hintz, is paramount to future success.

Dallas, too, had its successes in the draft and were able to take foundational players. The Blackhawks have one in Connor Bedard and likely another on the way. Frank Nazar and Kevin Korchinski seemingly factor in there, too.

But they need the likes of a Gavin Hayes, Nick Lardis, Martin Misiak, or Ethan Del Mastro to hit big. They already landed a big one in Alex Vlasic, whose high hockey IQ has shone against some of the league’s best.

The NHL Playoffs have shown what works and what doesn’t. Success encourages copycats. If anything, Roope Hintz shows the strategy works.

And from the looks of it, the Blackhawks may have a number of decent prospects who could hit in a similar fashion.

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