Here is the complete 2019 draft class of the Chicago Blackhawks:
What do we make of these six selections?
They’re big kids.
As we wrote after Friday night’s selection of Dach, Chicago’s first round pick instantly becomes the top forward prospect in the organization. There’s a good chance he’s on the NHL roster to start the season and could stick there for the 2019-20 season if he plays well and the Hawks make room for him (cough… Anisimov… cough).
Everyone complaining that the Blackhawks didn’t address the future of the blue line in the first round should be thrilled with the selection of Vlasic in the second. He’s committed to Boston University for the coming year, where he would join Blackhawks prospect Jake Wise. If you paid attention to the hype leading into the 2019 draft and the names that were called, the USNTDP stole the show. Vlasic was a big part of the team; he uses his 6-6 body well. He’s a good skater who has a big shot and takes away space effectively. Given the number of puck-moving defensemen coming along in the Hawks’ system, Vlasic could prove to be the perfect compliment.
The fourth round pick of Teplý appears to be terrific value. From DobberProspects.com:
“Teplý could be described as poor man’s Patrik Laine – he’s a big goal-scoring winger with a right-handed shot, has a great selection of shots, has an amazing release, is capable of making plays, his skating looks a bit clumsy, he isn’t consistent from game to game, and his defensive game isn’t very good – but Teplý’s tools aren’t quite as high-end as Laine’s, so I’m not putting him in the same tier. But there are definitely similarities between the two, and those are hard to ignore. Teplý has spent this entire season at the pro level in his home country Czech Republic. He’s split the season between the top level and the second-highest level. His results there have been good but not great. Teplý has also represented the Czechs at different age levels internationally, and he’s expected to be their top player at the upcoming U18 Worlds. Teplý is likely a second-round pick at this point but a strong finish to his season could potentially push him towards a late first round selection.” – Jokke Nevalainen
Here’s what DobberProspects.com had to say about Saarela:
“Saarela started this season in Jr. A SM-liiga which is the top junior level in Finland. While there, he put up seven goals and 15 points in 21 games. After that time, he’s been mostly playing at the top level in Liiga where he’s put up two goals and 10 points in 23 games. Saarela’s production in Liiga is very impressive but he’s also received great usage which has allowed him to produce points alongside talented players. Saarela comes from a true hockey family as his father Pasi was a long-time pro player and a local legend with Lukko which is probably partly why Antti has received such a great opportunity there as well. And Antti’s older brother Aleksi was drafted by the Rangers and is currently playing in Carolina’s system. The younger Saarela has also played 11 games with Finland’s U18 team and scored six points there. He’s expected to play an important role for Finland at the U18 Worlds.
Saarela has played center in junior but has been used purely as a winger at the pro level. His game is better suited for the wing, so I would expect him to stay there. He’s not big (5-11, 176) but he plays a fearless style of game and isn’t afraid to get his nose dirty. Saarela is a great skater who can create offensive opportunities because of his speed but his acceleration and agility are also great. His puck-skills are very good which makes him very dangerous in one-on-one situations. He also has a good shot. His playmaking skills are decent but he’s more of a complementary player than someone who drives the offense. He plays a reliable defensive game as well. Besides skating, his tools don’t appear to be high-end which is why he projects to become a complementary third-line winger. Saarela is likely going to be drafted in the third round of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft.” – Jokke Nevalainen (March 2019)
Basse is a tall goaltender who will head to Colorado College this year. Moberg saw action as a forward and defenseman last year and has decent size.
There is a lot to like about what the Blackhawks did on Friday and Saturday night. Their top two picks appear to be relatively safe bets on physically big players with high hockey IQs and a lot of ability to create plays for teammates. If there’s one lottery ticket from Saturday it would be Teply, who could be a name to watch in the near future.