With the 2014 NHL Draft upcoming next week, the Chicago Blackhawks have eight selections (none in the second round). With their first round selection currently slotted for 27th overall, here are five players the Hawks might be targeting.
Ryan MacInnis, C, Kitchener (OHL) (photo)
MacInnis is a big center who would be a familiar name for coach Joel Quenneville; during Quenneville’s time as head coach in St. Louis, Ryan’s father – Al – was a centerpiece of the Blues’ defense. Ryan is ranked 34th by The Hockey News, 37th by TSN’s Craig Button and was Central Scouting’s 20th ranked North American skater (improving from 33 in their mid-term rankings). He finished with 16 goals and 21 assists in 66 games with Kitchener last season.
“He’s a responsible two-way center with a very good hockey IQ; he sees the ice and anticipates very well to generate scoring chances,” director of NHL Central Scouting Dan Marr told NHL.com. “He’s a good playmaker but just needs to work on his shot and shoot more often.”
Nick Schmaltz, C, Green Bay (USHL)
Ranked 30th by The Hockey News, who said “University of North Dakota commit may be the most skilled player in draft, but needs a linemate to lead him.” The Hawks have enjoyed great success with one North Dakota player (Jonathan Toews) and drafted North Dakota center Luke Johnson in the fifth round last year; last season’s North Dakota roster also featured defenseman Nick Mattson, a 2010 Chicago pick. Schmaltz is ranked 24th overall by Craig Button and 19th by Central Scouting (just ahead of MacInnis).
His brother, Jordan, was drafted by St. Louis in the first round in 2012, and is currently at North Dakota. He was named the 2013 World Junior A Challenge Most Valuable Player, and his 12 points (in four games) broke the previous scoring record of 11 shared by Kyle Turris in 2006 and Mike Connolly in 2007. Schmaltz would be another college-bound player selected early by Bowman, and it’s worth noting that his NHL.com bio indicates that he “patterns his game after his hockey idol, Patrick Kane.”
Adrian Kempe, F, Modo (Sweden)
Kempe is one of the younger players in the draft, and would be another player Stan Bowman adds from Sweden. Craig Button ranked Kempe 10th overall, and Central Scouting rated him the #6 European skater. He comes from the same home town as Peter Forsberg, Markus Naslund, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, and Victor Hedman, and has some size on the wing. The Hockey News rated him 25th, saying: “speedy and fearless, Kempe plays a physical game and can also help out with the offensive side of the game.”
Kempe scored five goals in five games for Sweden at the 2013 World U-17 Challenge last year, winning gold. For Modo, Kempe was an assistant captain on the Under 20 team before joining their senior team that featured former NHL players Kyle Cumisky, Jeff Tambellini and Sami Pahlsson. He posted five goals and six assists in 45 games with the senior club.
Rowland McKeown, D, Kingstron (OHL)
Described by The Hockey News as a “smooth-skating blueliner can contribute at both ends of the ice and has excellent character.” (THN ranked McKeown 21st overall.) He works out with former NHL star Gary Roberts, who also tutors Steven Stamkos, Jeff Skinner and James Neal. Craig Button ranked him 51st and Central Scouting rated him 27th among North American skaters. He finished last season with 11 goals and 32 assists in 62 games in the OHL.
Of note, McKeown was the captain of the Toronto Marlboros Minor Midget AAA team in 2011-12 that featured Sam Bennett (the top-ranked North American skater), Joshua Ho-Sang (22nd-ranked North American skater) and one of next year’s prized prospects, Connor McDavid (draft eligible in 2015).
Brayden Point, C, Moose Jaw (WHL)
Point had a huge season for Moose Jaw (36 goals, 55 assists in 72 games) and his rankings are all over the map: Craig Button has him 17th, Central Scouting has him 31st among North American skaters and The Hockey News put him 75th overall.
ESPN’s Corey Pronman has the Hawks selecting Point, saying: “What Chicago looks for early in the draft during the Stan Bowman era is clear as day: Skilled forwards. Point has uncertainty within the industry in terms of what level of prospect he is. But in terms of the high-skill, high-hockey IQ players Chicago targets, he fits the mold.”