Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman is readying himself for the NHL draft this weekend. Who are the 'Hawks going to select with their first-round selection?
Chicago has the 18th-overall pick. It's anyone's guess who that player could be at this point. Will Bowman go with a power forward, a big defenseman or help in goal with his first choice?
This week, I will speculate on what might be available to the Blackhawks when their moment arrives Friday night. I will start by tossing out some forwards who might wind up with the team today. I'll look at the blue line and the crease as the week progresses.
Here are five forwards about whom we might be talking Friday night. Height and weight are as listed on The Hockey News website.
Henrik Samuelsson, RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL), 18 Years Old, 6'2", 211 Pounds
Sammuelsson, the son of longtime defenseman Ulf Samuelsson, is the same type of physical agitator as his father. He came to the Oil Kings last season by way of the Swedish Elite League. The year before, he was a part of the U.S. Development Program.
He needs work on his skating but is strong on the puck and is a force along the boards and in the corners. Samuelsson handles the stick well and is a responsible two-way player. He's not likely a 20-goal scorer but a tough power forward with a right-handed shot.
Pontus Aberg, LW, Djurgarden (SEL), 18 Years Old, 5'11", 194 Pounds
Bowman likes taking Swedish talent, and Aberg is a skilled scorer with good speed and aggressiveness. In 47 games in the SEL this past season, he had eight goals and seven assists.
Aberg is a hard-driving forward in the Tomas Holmstrom mold. He has good vision on the ice and can handle himself in his own zone. He shoots right with deceptive skill and isn't afraid to finish a check.
Thomas Wilson, RW, Plymouth Whalers (OHL), 18 Years Old, 6'4", 203 Pounds
Wilson won't be a big NHL scorer, but he is a physical forward who has good hands but needs work on skating. In 49 games with Plymouth, he racked up 141 penalty minutes and 27 points (nine goals, 18 assists).
He is a big guy who shoots right and is hard to clear from the front of the net. The possessor of a mean streak, Wilson could also be available when the 'Hawks pick in the second round.
Which forward would you like to see the 'Hawks draft in the first round?
Zemgus Girgensons, C, Dubuque Fighting Saints (USHL), 18 Years Old, 6'2", 198 Pounds
Originally from Latvia, Girgensons is planning on attending the University of Vermont. If Bowman wishes, he could let Girgensons, who shoots left, develop for a few years and sign him down the line.
The past two seasons in the USHL, he was a point-a-game player, including a 24-goal, 31-assist effort in 49 games this season. Girgensons could eventually be a skilled second-line center on both sides of the puck.
Radek Faksa, C, Kitchener Rangers (OHL). 18 Years Old, 6'3", 203 Pounds
Faksa played for the Czech Republic in the World Junior Championships and scored 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists) in 62 games with Kitchener in the 2011-12 season.
He might be a big-checking center in the NHL sooner rather than later. Faksa is good with the puck and is excellent at going to get it as well. The left-shooting Faksa has good two-way instincts and is a good bet to be selected if he is still on the board at that point.