The Blackhawks have the 8th overall draft pick, inside the top ten for the first time in over ten years thanks to their subpar finish last season, and while they likely won’t be getting an immediate impact game changer like Rasmus Dahlin, there are a number of promising defenders slated to hit the top ten in this years NHL Draft well.
Chicago Blackhawks Draft Options
Quinn Hughes – USA – Defense
Weight: 177 lbs.
The Blackhawks got a good look at Quinn Hughes when he played alongside Patrick Kane and a few of his Blackhawks battery mates in the 2018 IIHF World Cup last month, and they would no doubt love to have him. He is an elite defensive talent with an array of offensive talents and exceptional instincts defensively.
Hughes is a game changer who can effectively limit time and space and control play in all three zones. While he is currently playing college hockey, he will likely find his way onto an NHL roster sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately, it is unlikely he will be available in the eighth slot as the Detroit Red Wings will likely jump at the chance to snatch up the University of Michigan Sophmore with their sixth pick.
Evan Bouchard – Canada – Defense
Height: 6′ 2″
Weight: 192 lbs.
Evan Bouchard is another intriguing option, though he is also reasonably close to being NHL ready and that will likely mean we see him go earlier than the number eight pick.
Bouchard is a fluid skater who can impact the pace of play and has shown a willingness to get involved in all situations. Bouchard has demonstrated strong passing skills, excellent decision-making ability and is defensively active in terms of getting in passing lanes and being positionally sound. This is a trait that will undoubtedly be recognized by Joel Quenneville as he has a penchant for booking one-way tickets to the press box for blueliners that find themselves out of position too often.
If Bouchard is available, the Blackhawks will undoubtedly consider him carefully as the blueline is definitely one of the areas that has been on the back burner for a bit too long.
Adam Boqvist – Sweden – Defense
Height: 5′ 11″
Weight: 170 lbs.
Adam Boqvist is a Swedish defender who is on the small side, but he is very mobile and quite agile. In addition to his skating ability, Boqvist also quite active and can create turnovers and reads plays well. He is especially effective in the neutral zone, which is an area that has been a bit concerning for the Blackhawks in recent years.
More importantly, Boqvist may still be available in the eighth slot because he may be a bit behind some of the other defensemen in this draft is that he is still a work in progress in his own end. For that reason, he may need a little seasoning, but he has the potential to be an Erik Karlsson type of defenseman and should be worth the wait.
Boqvist plays offensively more like a forward with incredible vision, high-end puckhandling skills, and great positional awareness which will put him on a lot of teams radar.
Noah Dobson – Canada – Defense
Weight 180 lbs.
Noah Dobson could also be hanging around late in the top ten and has the size already at 6’3″, though he could afford to bulk up his frame. For a big defender, he has a remarkably fluid stride and can get up the ice with surprising speed.
He does not have the high-end offensive skills of Boqvist, the speed of Hughes, however, Dobson has excellent awareness in all three zones and is rarely caught out of position defensively. Dobson needs to work on his speed, but right out of the gates he should be a reliable defenseman who can eat up a lot of minutes. He also has good hands and a strong shot that makes him worth a good hard look if he is still lingering around the eighth pick.
Oliver Wahlstrom – USA – Forward
Height: 6′ 1″
Weight: 207 lbs.
As much as the Blackhawks need defense, they have a couple of young D getting ready to break through (most notably Henri Jokiharju). So, they very well could (and should) take a shot at Oliver Wahlstrom if he is available.
Wahlstrom is currently committed to Boston College, but it is more than likely short-term parking because whichever team winds up with him they will likely begin circling like sharks in short order.
Wahlstrom is a big forward at 6’1″, and he possesses high-end shooting ability and speed, two things the Blackhawks would be thrilled to have. In addition, he has good vision, creativity and has been referred to as uncontainable offensively. If you love players like Kane, Artemi Panarin and DeBrincat, then Wahlstrom is sure to be a favorite among the Blackhawks faithful should he find his way to Chicago. The one thing he has on them is size which makes him even more intriguing for this Blackhawks team.
Like many highly skilled offensive forwards, he is not known for his defensive prowess, but he’s not a total liability either. Whatever shortcomings he may have Wahlstrom can make up for it with his top-end skill, exceptional hockey IQ, and his ability to create offensive opportunities for himself and his linemates.
Wahlstrom could go earlier, and in any other year he would almost certainly would, but with this year’s glut of top defensive players may lure teams in that direction and he might just be waiting for Stan Bowman to call his name.
The Blackhawks also have the 27th pick, but I believe that pick will be in play as the Blackhawks look to bring in a top pairing defenseman to shore up that need immediately. While the expectation is that the Blackhawks will be looking at the abundance of defensemen available this year, I strongly believe that they will take Wahlstrom with the eighth pick as it seems unlikely they will land a plug and play blueliner who can make a difference right away.
That move will come in the form of a trade that could involve Artem Anisimov, Connor Murphy, or perhaps Jan Rutta. The late first round pick could also be used as a sweetener. However, as we have seen in years past, anything can (and often does) happen on Draft day, so buckle up.