2012 NHL Draft: 10 Players Chicago Blackhawks Should Pursue in the First Round
June 22nd is right around the corner and yes, on that day the most talented young players in the game get called to a podium to dawn the colors of their new organization.
The 2012 NHL draft gives teams a chance to make moves and select the player or players that they believe can get their team to the next level.
The Chicago Blackhawks have the 18th overall pick in this June's entry draft and their will be a number of talented players still on the board.
Certainly, the 'Hawks do have immediate needs that should be addressed with trades or free agency. With the No. 18 pick, the player they select more than likely will not have a roster impact for another year or two.
Though there is little doubt that Stan Bowman has a tremendous list in front of him, here is a short list of 10 quality individuals that would be terrific additions in Chicago.
Tom Wilson: Plymouth (OHL)
Weight: 203 lbs
Tom Wilson is a banger. He will muck it up in the corners, agitate and do the little things well.
Sound like Kyle Beach? Kind of, but not really. Unlike Beach, who was deemed a very risky first-round pick in 2008, Wilson does not come with the character questions that Beach had.
Wilson was superb for the Plymouth Whalers in the postseason, netting seven goals and 13 points in 13 games. A power forward, he is already large at 6'4" and will further bulk up with age.
If the Hawks are in the position to take Wilson, adding a future winger that comes with force could ultimately compliment the Hawks offensive weapons.
Malcolm Subban: Belleville (OHL)
Weight: 188 lbs
Malcolm Subban, the kid brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban, is one of the highest rated goalies in the draft. Though not the biggest, he is very athletic and posted a solid 2.50 GAA with the Belleville Bulls this season.
There may be suitors with earlier picks, but at the same time teams may be reluctant to spend their top pick on a netminder.
With the Hawks and their fan base questioning the long term value of Corey Crawford, does Stan Bowman dare take a goalie with the first pick and if so, is Subban the guy?
Cody Ceci: Ottawa (OHL)
Weight: 207 lbs
Cody Ceci of the Ottawa 67's brings a lot of intangibles to the table. He is well built, plays physical and is very sound in his own end.
Ceci has the potential to be a solid two-way NHL defenseman and he posted 60 points in 64 regular season games for the 67's and registered a plus-21 rating.
Questions around his agility and his footwork remain, but if he can develop and work on his first two strides he will be an asset to any NHL club.
He may be around, he may go earlier, but for a team that needs to develop defensemen around Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, the 'Hawks should certainly take a flier on Ceci.
Andrei Vasilevski: Ufa (KHL)
Weight: 204 lbs
Andrei Vasilevski turned heads at the World Junior Tournament during the holidays. He was the youngest member of the Russian team and will most likely be selected in the first round.
Because of his size and lateral movement, Vasilevski could end up being a better overall prospect than Subban.
There is always the threat that the KHL will try to retain their native star, but if Bowman is fixated on taking a goalie, whether or not Subban is around, Vasilevski may be the one to lean towards.
Jacob Trouba: USNTDP
Weight: 193 lbs
This one may be way too hopeful, and the 'Hawks would need to trade up to get him. Jacob Trouba may be the best American-born prospect in the draft, and the U.S. Development Program definitely knows how to churn out talent.
Trouba is a terrific defensive defenseman who works well on the power play. He is committed to the University of Michigan for next year and will likely be there for a couple of years.There is little doubt that he will be NHL-ready when he decides to leave Ann Arbor.
Again, this one could be wishful as there is a decent chance that he will go in the Top 10, but this kid would look really nice in red and black.
If Stan moves a few parts and is able to trade up, this is the player to do it for.
Radek Faksa: Kitchener (OHL)
Weight: 202 lbs
Regardless of the fact that the 'Hawks took a center with their first pick in the 2011 draft (Mark McNeil), you can never have enough players in the middle.
Considering all of the talk of having a No. 2 center and despite the fact that this player will not jump into that role right away next season, the 'Hawks will need to consider long-term options to compliment Jonathan Toews.
Radek Faksa comes with a great package of size and skill. His hands are solid, and he will win pucks. Like many players his age, his skating is not NHL-ready, and he may need another year in Kitchener before making a splash in camp.
Still, the upside is there and Faksa is supposed to be picked somewhere in the middle of the first round. He would be a solid play.
Hampus Lindholm: Rogle (SWE)
Weight: 196 lbs
Lindholm is another defenseman that could be a decent fit for the Hawks. There is not anything flashy about his game but in most areas he is good to the core.
He can move the puck well, plays sound but not ultra aggressive in his own end and will contribute offensively.
Given the current makeup of the Hawks, going after an offensive defenseman may not be their chosen route, but Lindholm will still have time to work on being a two-way defenseman for a year or two before being called upon.
If the Hawks go after an additional "stay at home" defenseman via trade or free agency this summer, Lindholm could be a good player to eventually split up the Keith/Seabrook pair and give the Hawks more options in the top six.
Olli Määttä: London (OHL)
Weight: 202 lbs
If Bowman calls Olli Määttä's name at the podium, 'Hawks fans should be very happy with this pick.
His best attributes are his reads, gaps and winning pucks. Basically, all the things Nick Leddy did not have at his age (or still doesn't), Määttä possesses.
Määttä has improved a great deal this season for the London Knights, particularly during their Memorial Cup run. Getting comfortable in his game, Määttä registered 23 points in 17 postseason contests.
Though he was not highly rated earlier this season, do not disregard Määttä as a very serious prospect and one that could be a good fit in Chicago.
Pontus Aberg: Djurgardens (SWE)
Position: Left Wing
Weight: 194 lbs
Aberg has the talent level and, apparently, the mentality to get it done in the NHL. Though to some people he may be undersized, the rumblings on Aberg are that he can play in all areas of the ice, does not shy away from traffic, wins loose pucks and gets to the net.
His stock has recently gone up due to his pro experience with Djurgardens in Sweden, but some teams will pass because he may be a couple of years out from playing as a regular in the NHL. More than likely, he will stay in the Swedish Elite League for at least two more seasons before crossing the pond.
If the Hawks are willing to wait, they may reap benefits down the line with a solid second or third line wing.
Mikhail Grigorenko: Quebec (QMJHL)
Weight: 200 lbs
If Mikhail Grigorenko falls to the No. 18 spot in the draft he will more than likely be the most talented center remaining.
The positive with Grigorenko is he has all of the tools and the potential to be a terrific pro. His 40 goals with the Quebec Ramparts is evidence enough and his skill level will ultimately yield fantastic results in the NHL.
The knock on him? Will he turn to the KHL and stay put? Does he have the desire to go through the rigors of the NHL schedule and the travel demands?
While many scouts see his potential, teams will shy away from this high risk, high reward prospect.
Should he be around come Stan's turn, it may be worth taking a shot. Considering the upside and the "supposed" wealth of prospects the Hawks already have, a five-tool, close to NHL-ready center may be worth rolling the dice on.