I realize the draft was three days ago, but I continue to reflect on the Blackhawks as they churn and burn as the NHL’s premier franchise.
After beating the Bruins in 6 games, the Blackhawks decided to take their freshly-minted best-of-class status to the Prudential Center in New Jersey to pick players who could improve a Stanley Cup winner. The kicker of it is that the Blackhawks not only grabbed three local prospects, but they also added three additional draft picks to their haul. The picks were part of the trades of Michael Frolik and Dave Bolland. Trust me, the loss of Frolik and Bolland is not anything to lose sleep over. They can and will be replaced with players of equal or greater value.
In their pursuit of the Cup, Blackhawks stayed with the team that dominated the regular season, while everyone else shot for the moon and came up empty. The Bruins gave up their 29th overall selection to obtain Jaromir Jagr and on top of that lost Nathan Horton to UFA. The Penguins gave up everything to acquire Jarome Iginla only to get swept in the ECF. There are plenty of other examples in the Western Conference.
The Blackhawks sat back whistling Dixie and grabbed Ryan Hartman from Palatine High School because there was no cause for panic. Front running has its advantages especially when it comes to the trading deadline. See how many moves the Cardinals make over the next three weeks as compared to the Pirates and Reds.
It’s not a certainty that Ryan Hartman will ever contribute significantly to the future success of the Blackhawks, but to take a local kid after you’ve won the Cup just exudes confidence. It says, Not only are we gonna beat you but we’re going to do it with players who grew up watching us beat you. In this respect, the Blackhawks are turning into hockey’s Atlanta Braves who have been doing it for 20 years. Scout locally, draft locally and maintain a continuous connectivity with your legacy, your team and the programs in your area.
The Blackhawks grabbed Hartman with the 30th overall pick because he’s a big body who’ll be able to grind along the boards and has great hockey sense and awareness. Everyone’s favorite guy inside the glass, Pierre McGuire compared Hartman to a Brad Marchand or Andrew Shaw because he’s a skill guy with an irritable disposition that is highly sought after.
The Blackhawks would go on to take two more local prospects out of the NHL Draft on Sunday – forwards John Hayden from Chicago (74th) and Winfield’s Anthony Louis (181st), both of whom were members of the USNDT.