Five Year Plan: How The 2009 NHL Draft Still Impacts The Blackhawks

As we look ahead at the 2014-15 Blackhawks, looking back to the 2009 Draft is an intriguing part of the team’s recent history – and its future.

Marcus+Kruger

The 2009 Draft was a departure from the early picks the Hawks had enjoyed the previous few years; the Hawks made the jump from chump to Western Conference Final contender in the amazing 2008-09 season.

The 2009 Draft was loaded with high-end talent. John Tavares, the number one overall pick by the Islanders, is becoming an elite superstar in the league. And he isn’t alone in approaching stardom from that summer’s draft. Tampa selected defenseman Victor Hedman at number two, and Colorado picked Matt Duchene at number three. Then-Atlanta (now Winnipeg) selected Evander Kane at number four; each of the top four overall selections have played at least 324 games in the NHL already.

Among the other players of note selected before the Hawks were on the clock were defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (6) and forwards Nazem Kadri (7), Chris Kreider (19) and Marcus Johansson (24).

This draft is also one that has been at the heart of a lot of dialogue for Blackhawks fans over the last couple years, and continues to be a focal point of discussion.

Looking back, we find an intriguing time in the Hawks’ history in the front office as well. Dale Tallon was the General Manager of the Blackhawks when the 2009 Draft took place, but he wouldn’t be there for long. Stan Bowman would be named the ninth GM in the history of Chicago’s NHL franchise on July 17, 2009 – less than one month after that summer’s draft took place June 26-27 in Montreal.

In the first round of the 2009 Draft, the Blackhawks selected defenseman Dylan Olsen with the 28th overall selection. A big, physical defenseman, many fans were excited to see how he developed. Olsen went to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for a couple years before turning pro. He got a long look at the NHL level – 28 games – during the 2011-12 season, but struggled with the speed of the game.

Last November, Olsen was part of the trade that brought Kris Versteeg back to Chicago. This isn’t the first – or last – time that Florida or Versteeg was involved in a trade involving a player from the 2009 Draft.

Olsen has a teammate in Florida who was selected in the second round of the 2009 Draft. Brandon Pirri, who many felt could have been the elusive second line center answer for the Hawks over the last couple years, was the Blackhawks pick at 59 overall. Pirri jumped into the lineup on Opening Night in 2010 when Patrick Sharp was sick, and would see action with the NHL team in each of the next three seasons. He led the AHL in points and assists during the 2012-13 season, posting 75 points in 76 games.

In total, Pirri scored six goals and added seven assists in 35 NHL games with the Blackhawks before he was traded to – you guessed it – Florida.

So the Blackhawks have traded their first two picks in the 2009 Draft to Florida in the last 12 months.

With that in mind, the 2009 NHL Draft continues to have an enormous impact on the current Chicago Blackhawks.

The Hawks’ fifth round pick in 2009 was a skinny young center from Sweden named Marcus Krüger. Only three players selected after the end of the first round that year have played in more than 200 regular season games at the NHL level thus far: Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly (33), Los Angeles’ Kyle Clifford (35) and Krüger (149).

Over the last two years, Krüger has developed in a top penalty killer and has made great improvements at the dot. It’s hard to look back at the 2009 Draft and not consider Krüger one of the better value selections in that class.

But Krüger isn’t where the story of the 2009 Draft ends for the Blackhawks.

Including the break-up of the 2010 Stanley Cup championship roster, the Hawks have now acquired three other players who were drafted in the first round of the 2009 Draft among a handful of players who were picked that summer.

Leddy

  • Minnesota selected defenseman Nick Leddy with the 16th overall pick. He was acquired by Bowman during the 2009-10 season in the now-legendary Cam Barker trade.
  • St. Louis selected defenseman David Rundblad with the 17th overall pick. He was acquired from Arizona by Bowman during the 2013-14 season.
  • Carolina selected forward Philippe Paradis with the 27th overall pick. The Hawks acquired Paradis from Toronto with Viktor Stalberg in the deal that sent Versteeg to the Leafs during the summer of 2010. Chicago has since traded Paradis to Tampa for defenseman Kirill Gotovets, a seventh round pick (#183) from the 2009 Draft who signed an AHL deal with Rockford for this season.
  • Atlanta selected forward Jeremy Morin with the 45th overall pick. The Hawks acquired Morin in the blockbuster trade that sent Dustin Byfuglien to the Thrashers (now Jets) in the summer of 2010. With a new, one-way contract in-hand, Morin figures to (finally) get a good look at the NHL level this season. He’s certainly earned it.

Leddy, Rundblad and Morin figure to have a role with the 2014-15 Blackhawks, and Leddy already has a championship ring at home.

The other players selected by the Hawks that summer were:

  • Round Three (#89) – Dan Delisle
  • Round Four (#119) – Byron Froese
  • Round Six (#177) – David Pacan
  • Round Seven (#195) – Paul Phillips
  • Round Seven (#209) – David Gilbert

One of these players was also involved in a relatively significant trade that helped the Blackhawks win a championship. On Feb. 9, 2011, Pacan was a footnote on the trade sending Jack Skille and Hugh Jessiman to… you guessed it (again)… Florida. Bowman brought back Michael Frolik in that trade.

Frolik was, with Krüger, a critical part of the Hawks’ exceptional penalty killing unit during their run to the 2013 Stanley Cup. He was subsequently traded for two draft picks, one of which was used on Yale forward John Hayden; Hayden has been one of the better players at each of the last two Prospect Camps for the Hawks.

Undoubtedly this look back reads like a six degrees of separation spiderweb, but the 2009 NHL Draft continues to put a major footprint on the Blackhawks roster.

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28 Responses to Five Year Plan: How The 2009 NHL Draft Still Impacts The Blackhawks

  1. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    2009 was a wasted drafted year for the Hawks in my opinion. The Hawks moved their first two picks for a guy they traded away. Add in the fact the returns for Versteeg have been extremely poor. Personally, I think he will rebound this season but that is far from a given. I still feel both Olsen & Pirri were not handled correctly by the organization. Olsen was rushed and then given up on too soon and Pirri for whatever reason wasn’t but in a position to succeed. His early returns last season where good then he got hurt and sent down and then traded. Despite all that he finished in FLA with a decent season. Both players are NHL level talent and to move both of them for one retread is disappointing no matter how anyone slices it.

    As much as everyone LOVES Kruger. IMO he is still only a replacement level player. With the amount of talent that was in the 2009 draft the Hawks draft was less then perfect!

    Atleast Leddy has proven to be a nice addition to the club. Morin and Runbad are only question marks at this stage and the rest of the player = a bag of pucks!

  2. Skip Chinski says:

    Any way you or I look at the drafts, there are still a CRAP SHOOT. Have a good day!!!

  3. John Wangsauce says:

    Hey Skip! Do you work for Comcast??

    Seems to be a waste of money to invest in professional scouting if it’s just a crap shoot.

  4. Just a Fan says:

    SSHM

    So if we filter out the noise (fringe, yet undeveloped players, and NHL busts), as of today the Hawks have Versteeg back, Leddy, Kruger, and Morin in exchange for Frolik, Olsen, and Pirri.

    IMO, Versteeg and Frolik are a wash. Granted they have some different skills yet they comparable NHL talent. And getting three other players that fit the system for two players that didn’t fit was some stellar management by Bowman and the boys.

  5. Tab Bamford says:

    re: SSHM – a wasted year? I disagree on a number of levels…

    The one guy most fans will point to that the Hawks should have picked instead of Olsen that year is O’Reilly. But, if we go back in time five years, the Hawks had just used a 1st round pick in back-to-back years on forwards (Toews, Kane) and the system was desperately lacking for bigger defensemen. That draft class had more smaller, puck-moving defensemen than big bodies, and that’s what the Hawks needed at that point. In fact, if you look back at the last 5 years of Hawks’ drafts under Bowman, they’ve looked to add a big body defenseman in each draft. Some work out, some don’t. Olsen didn’t. It looks like Stephen Johns will.

  6. Sr. Brad says:

    Excellent analysis Tab on a very deep, weird draft…its a shame that things didn’t work out for the Hawks, but it wasn’t as if Talon/Bowman did a poor job…at the time I was screaming for the Hawks to take O’Reilly, but when they called Olsen, it was a very good pick…and Dylan has really improved his game and had a good finish to the season in FLA…he’s not the best, just yet, that everyone seems to see him as…Pirri was an excellent choice late in the 2nd round, and he did well here when he was given the chance…in fact, if Pirri had more speed, he would have stuck here as our #2 guy…Froese in the 4th and Gilbert in the 7th were also good picks at the time…also, what Tab didn’t mention is that the Hawks incredible success, from 2009 on, has also made it VERY HARD for ANY Hawk draft pick to have success…Kruger, Shaw and Leddy all filled very specific niches…it has really on been Brandon Saad that has just “wowed” his way into the lineup. It is so tough, Kevin Hayes has decided to walk away from the best franchise in PRO SPORTS because he doesn’t think he can see the NHL ice anytime soon.

    So for ALL Hawk draft choices, from 2009 on, it has been VERY tough. In fact it has taken incredible Jr. or AHL performances for prospects to be even given a chance…Pirri became the youngest player in AHL history to lead the league in scoring…Morin has been an AHL star and his scoring run in Rockford last season was UNPRECEDENTED …and he’s only now being given a full time chance…Klas Dahlbeck just had a perfect D season in Rockford and his status is up in the air…Adam Clendening was drafted ahead of Saad, and has been lights out in Rockford and he might have to wait another year for his chance…1st round picks McNeil and Danault are STILL another year away from being given a chance…

    Its TOUGH being a Chicago Blackhawk draft pick…it is…but the trick is, this pressure will only make them better…Stephen Johns and TT aren’t being fast tracked by the Hawks because they are “sexy” players, they have EARNED their long looks…they have become better playing being in the Hawk’s system because they had to, just to survive!

  7. Sr. Brad says:

    Sorry, Olsen was not the BUST that everyone sees him as…

  8. Sr. Brad says:

    IMO, its guaranteed that Versteeg will be back to normal this season…we just got back from a 5 day visit back “home” to Canada and we had lunch with the Versteegs…no Kris…and everyone said the same thing, that Kris simply had NO ENERGY RESERVES come playoff time…he came back to soon last year…he cut corners in his stamina development in the offseason to be ready for the regular season, and he had nothing left come playoff time. Apparently Kris has taken on a situation specific trainer this summer to get back his core strength that he simply didn’t have last season…they talked about watching Kris run out of gas from February on…his knee is fully healed, he does not have any significant inflammation or pain anymore…its just a question of his strength. And if you remember Versteeg’s play in Dec/Jan you know he hasn’t lost his “touch”… apparently Kris feels horrible that he let his team down and wants to make it up this coming season…I don’t see it as Versteeg’s “fault”, but I understand his sentiment.

  9. Mike says:

    I am a proponent of keeping Versteeg. I think he is worth another look. That said, 15 to 20 games should tell us all we need to know and I hope it works out. $2.2mm for a decent 3d line winger is a good number for the Cap. Good luck Steeger….score 20 or so and keep it out of our net.

  10. EbonyRaptor says:

    Sr. Brad – that’s encouraging to hear regarding Versteeg, although tempered somewhat because it’s his loved ones providing the optimistic reports.

    Other than the two 1st round home runs in 06 & 07, the Hawks drafting in the 1st and 2nd rounds is abysmal between 2005 and 2010, look at this:

    2005: Skille, Blunden, Bertram
    2006: Makarov, Denis-Peppin (Toews 1st round)
    2007: Sweatt, Aliu (Kane 1st round)
    2008: Beach (no 2nd round pick)
    2009: Olsen, Pirri
    2010: K.Hayes, Runsfeldt, Holl, Simpson, Johns

    From that illustrious group, only Holl, Simpson and Johns are still in the Hawks system with really only Johns having a realistic chance to be an NHLer.

    MERCY!

    Let’s hope that 5 years from now were not similarly lamenting the 2011-2014 draft classes.

  11. Tab Bamford says:

    Response to EbonyRaptor’s draft list: An effective franchise needs to get 1-2 NHL regulars per draft to sustain success.

    2005: Niklas Hjalmarsson – 4th round
    2006: Toews
    2007: Kane
    2008: Ben Smith – 6th round
    2009: Marcus Kruger (see above)
    2010: Johns, Joakim Nordstrom – 3rd rnd
    2011: Saad & Shaw are already in the NHL. Clendening, Dahlbeck, Paliotta, Danault, McNeill are coming
    2012: right now, Teravainen & Hinostroza look like the guys who will make an impact at some point
    2013 & 2014 – TBD

    Also of note, the Hawks’ 2nd round pick in 2008 was traded for Havlat. At that time, worth the pick.

    Have the Hawks hit home runs in the first round every year? Maybe not. But they’ve found one of two guys every year who has become an NHL regular.

  12. Frolik Navidad says:

    SSHM- that’s a little harsh. Not every draft is as stacked as the 2011 draft class from the Hawks’ perspective. Hayden might not be from the 2009 draft class but he was indirectly a part of it like Tab said and he has a good size/skill combination that hopefully develops into a NHL game. One player can make a draft class, like you said about Toews and Kane. Hayden is not on that level but don’t discount his possible contributions.

    Sr. Brad and Mike- I agree on Versteeg. He should be fully healed now and if not, he can be traded after a good 20 game evaluation. I hope it doesn’t come to this as I have always loved Versteeg as a Hawk.

    ER-although the Hawks have struck out in some drafts ( Beach over Eberle, Erik Karlsson) they have been dynamite in the later rounds. Players like Kruger,Hjalmarsson, Shaw, Smith, among otherss are already staples while others are knocking on the door.

  13. Frolik Navidad says:

    Yeah. What Tab said, I posted a little too late

  14. Just a Fan says:

    Sr. Brad. Agreed, Olsen was not a bust. He just did not fit what the Hawks needed at that specific time. And with the prospect depth developing he was expendable to get Versteeg back.

  15. EbonyRaptor says:

    Tab – I agree the Hawks have done well in later rounds. My post focused on the 1st and 2nd rounds where, with the exception of the can’t miss players selected at the #1 and #3 overall positions, the Hawks 1st and 2nd round picks were terrible.

  16. noonan96 says:

    I agree ER-it just shows that other than those top few picks-in some drafts 2, in others top 5, you take you roll the dice, hope the scouts did their work and often the lower rounds come through-
    The Storm kid-Fabri looks really good-I think the Blues may have done well with the 21st overall pick. Of course he was playing with C. McDavid but he shone on his own as well with Canada Jrs.

  17. Sr. Brad says:

    Your post is very valid ER…I think it was one reason Tallon was demoted…the good news, is that we got through it, and as Tab said the 2nd rounder for Havlat was a big move…it also led to the signing of Hossa…Bowman has turned things around in a big way…and as for 2010, you can’t fault SB for taking Hayes when the kid walks away from us because our organization is “too stacked”…

    Mike, I agree…20 games is more than enough time for Steeger to “prove” himself…and he needs to…the other thing I forgot to mention is that his family is aware that his hockey career is hanging in the balance right now…he MUST have a big year in CHI for his career to continue in any meaningful way.

    Tab, as I have said, the 2011 draft has a chance to become one of the best ever Hawk’s drafts, behind perhaps only 1980 (Savard, Larmer, Troy Murray, Ludzig)

  18. Mike57 says:

    Great report Tab, love reading this stuff.

    Sr. Brad – thanks for the Versteeg insight. It would be awesome if Steeger could bring his A game next year. The possibilities are endless for 4 lines that can all play and create some tough matchups for even the top teams.

    Absolutely can not wait for hockey season to start.

  19. Craig nigrelli says:

    Great read !! Good info as well sr. Brad.

    A couple of points. I went back and read the hockey news future watch after the hawks drafted Olsen. The late Tim Sassone noted that the hawks believed that they had legitimate nhlers with Olsen and Shawn lalonde.

    And here’s a bit of an anecdote : when Dylan olsen played for Canada at the world juniors in buffalo, a buddy of mine was in a luxury box and Scotty bowman was there. He called me on his cell and told me bowman was in the box and to feed him a question to make conversation. I told him to ask him what he thinks of Dylan Olsen from Canada. So my buddy asked him (Scotty is known to engage the average joe who asks hockey questions. I have bumped into him a few times in my my native buffalo and he always is very talkative to anybody who wants to discuss hockey). Scotty looked at him and replied. “not much, too slow”.

    Obviously the comment doesn’t mean much now, but at the time I thought hmmm Scotty doesn’t like the hawks 1st round pick, doesn’t bode well for Olsen. Less than a week later Olsen was gone from deluth and playing for Rockford.

  20. Craig nigrelli says:

    Back to tab’s original column. I think he nailed it. A team has to get at least one maybe two NHL players out of each draft, especially since as ken holland put it, this is now a “draft and development league”. Heck as much as Beach was a bust, the Hawks got a really good NHL player in Ben smith in 2008.

    And if you look at 2011. That draft is looking spectacular in terms of quantity of nhlers. Perhaps on par with 2004 when barker, bolland bickell and Brouwer came along.

    One final thought. For all the jokes and cracks stan bowman takes for drafting Swedish defensemen, the pattern appears to be set : take guys who ooze talent in the 1st round, then take the swedes in the middle rounds because they seem to emerge into really good players such as Nik hjalmarsson and the above mentioned Kruger.

    For draft and development geeks like me it’s really a lot of fun to follow.

  21. Sr. Brad says:

    MIke, that is the key with Versteeg….we have so much depth and talent right now that Kruger and Smith are “stuck” on the 4th line…if Steeger has a big come back year, that’s insane depth and we haven’t even discussed TT, Nordstrom, RasMOOSEn, or the rest…

  22. morrison says:

    Sr Brad,
    thanks for the update/info on Steeger. Sounds good.

  23. Mike57 says:

    Am I over excited about the Moose and his chances to make the big club this season? Those of you that got to the camp seem to say all the things I believed were true about the big guy. What is the feeling about him being NHL ready? If we do have to move a player or 2 for cap space, is the Moose capable of replacing Kruger? or any other forwards?

  24. Sr. Brad says:

    He’s NHL ready, the question is do we have space for him?

  25. Iceman says:

    How about an overview on hawks’ free agent signings since 2009?

  26. wall says:

    Mike57- I believe RasMOOSEn is ready too!!!

    But- w/ Hawks tight cap space for this year and next- the Hawks might “Slow-Play” Moose (kind of like how they did Morin)- for future Cap savings…

  27. Mike57 says:

    Does anybody else feel like I do that it might be time to move Sharp. Cap space will be gained and I know there are a group of people that love Sharpie but what I see is a shooter with a scoring touch – kinda describes what Morin should become. Putting Morin with Toews and Hossa gives him players that definitely lead by example. And I am not saying Morin will score at the rate Sharp has but I think he would do well. Plus if it opens a spot for a guy like Rasmussen that might match up against some of the big centers we will face in LA, Anaheim, and St.Louis might make up for what we lose in moving Sharp.
    I think you have to move guys while you can still get max value if you have possible replacements. Obviously we have replacements on defense and need to create an opening for someone to step into. It looks like we are going into the season with a veteran team that can win it all but I wonder if long term that is the best way to maintain a top team.

  28. Sr. Brad says:

    Mike, I think a year too soon…I think the Hawks should go hard after another Cup this season with Richards signed…one more year for Patrick…

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