The Chicago Blackhawks definitely drafted for the future this weekend with their selections at the 2012 NHL draft in Pittsburgh. From top to bottom, the 'Hawks went with young players who may toil for several seasons before they have any hope of contributing to the organization.
Chicago selected four forwards, two defensemen and a pair of goalies. After seeing one of the most highly-touted European skaters fall to them in the first round, the 'Hawks stayed in North America on Saturday, taking four Canadians and three American players.
Here's the skinny on each of the Blackhawks' eight selections, as well as some of my thoughts.
2011-12 Team: Jokerit (Finnish Elite)
Pros: Potentially an elite scorer with great hands. Handles the puck well and passes it with a level of confidence seldom seen in a young player. Shifty skater with excellent balance. Potted 11 goals in 40 games in his country's top professional league.
Cons: Makes Marcus Kruger look like Bryan Bickell. From a size standpoint, it's hard not to see Teravainen filling out a bit, but he's never going to be a physical force. Was also drafted in the first round of the KHL draft, so he has options other than the NHL.
Thoughts: Drafting where Chicago has the last few seasons, it's difficult to obtain a player of Teravainen's ilk. Most had this kid going much higher. Like Brandon Saad last year, Bowman saw a talent fall to him and went for it.
2011-12 Team: Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)
Pros: Is a lot like current 'Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith in that he is adept at bringing the puck out of his own zone. He is a fast skater and sees the ice well. Fournier scored nine goals and 29 assists last season.
Cons: Is a lot like current 'Hawks defenseman Duncan Keith in that he is prone to making bad decisions with the puck. A shoulder injury and subsequent surgery limited him to 52 games. Need to gain more physical strength.
Thoughts: Maybe he isn't the bruising defender we seem to need right now, but Fournier, like most of the new 'Hawks, is several seasons away from being a difference maker.
2011-12 Team: Nobles and Greenough (Mass. High School)
Pros: Apparently tests well. He was near the top in most of the draft combine trials. He has good size and is tough on the forecheck. Projects to be a power forwrard type. Is getting early press because his uncle (by marriage) is former 'Hawks center Jeremy Roenick.
Cons: Could be a while before we see him sign a pro contract. He is looking to play a season of hockey either at his prep school or the USHL before enrolling at Boston College.
Thoughts: Pretty solid pick for the third round. Yet another skater who will develop out East in the college game.
2011-12 Team: Saginaw (OHL)
Pros: Played with Brandon Saad last season, scoring 25 goals and 29 assists. Looks to be a slightly bigger version of Andrew Shaw, who also went in this round in 2011.
Cons: Wasn't much of a scorer in his previous two seasons with Saginaw, so it remains to be seen if he has much offensive skill that will translate to the next levels of hockey.
Thoughts: Like Shaw, I wouldn't be surprised if Ross signed an AHL contract with Rockford and got his professional career underway this fall.
2011-12 Team: Moose Jaw (WHL)
Pros: Brown scored 31 points (seven goals, 24 assists) in his first full season in a major junior league. He has good defensive instincts and projects to have decent size and agility in a few years.
Cons: Needs time to develop into a solid two-way defenseman.
Thoughts: He should get that time by putting in a few more seasons in the rugged WHL. All it cost the 'Hawks was John Scott.
2011-12 Team: Waterloo (USHL)
Pros: Is from Bartlett, Illinois, so he's a local product. He's a smart player who handles the puck pretty well. He scored 20 goals to go with 24 assists last season.
Cons: Like Orland Park native Alex Broadhurst, drafted late last summer, Hinostroza is a diminutive center who is going to have to find a way to compete at the higher levels.
Thoughts: He's off to Nortre Dame this fall and will probably be there for three or four years.
2011-12 Team: Victoriaville (QMJHL)
Pros: Second-rated North American goalie according to Central Scouting and fell to the last round to Chicago. He's huge, moves across the crease well and has the athleticism to go with the size.
Cons: Needs a lot more time to build his game, including his ability to absorb rebounds.
Thoughts: Thought he would go in the third round, so this is a terrific find this late in the draft. Let's see if he gets a bigger share of his team's starts next season.
2011-12 Team: Sherwood Park (AJHL)
Pros: Has good size and a lot of time to develop. He'll play another season in the Alberta Junior League, then attend Ohio State. Here's a story on Tomkins by the Calgary Herald after he was invited to Hockey Canada's under-20 goalie camp earlier this month.
Cons: For their last pick, not much. He's a guy who has improved rapidly in the last year or so and will continue his development in college.
Thoughts: I know that the photo above is not of Tomkins. It is of Alec Richards, who finished the season in Toledo. Try as I might, I could not find a photo or video of Tomkins, so I figured Richards could really use the face-time. There's a photo of Tomkins in the article I linked to.