Everything Else

The FFUD #3 Pick Preview rolls on with a guy who has the same name as an injured Phillies prospect, in a coincidence both weird and possibly accurate.

Physical Stats

Height: 6′ 3″; Weight: 183; Shot: Right

On-Ice Stats (2018-19)

League: WHL; Team: Lethbridge Hurricanes; Position: Center

34 G; 50 A; 84 P

Why the Hawks Should Take Him

Cozens can skate. That’s his number one quality, and on this Hawks team that ability shouldn’t be underestimated. We love Dylan Strome around these parts, but skating is definitely not his strong suit. And Toews won’t be getting any faster either. Cozens is most naturally a center, and if  you squint, you could see him as a 3C, ostensibly on an energy line with Kubalik or Sikura or any of the other bottom-six rabble. He can get control of the puck and move it through the neutral zone, and at 6’3″ he’s big enough to win puck battles down low, and then he can use his speed to get up the ice and make a zone entry. Which shouldn’t be that hard but you know what we’re dealing with here.

By all accounts, Cozens is a solid two-way player with a decent shot, and even though he’s tall he’s not a slobbering oaf (yet at least). His offensive capabilities have been noted since he was 16, when he scored eight points in 12 games, the second-most for a WHL player at that age behind Brayden Point. He finished this season tied for 10th in points, and his total of 84 was a 30-point jump from his previous season. So he’s got offensive potential.

Why the Hawks Shouldn’t Pick Him

Speed is important, don’t get me wrong, but unfortunately Cozens isn’t all that skilled. Yes his numbers are good, but we’re talking about his 16-year-old season? That’s discomforting in its Pierre McGuire-ness. I at least would want his current season to be enough that we don’t have to talk about him basically as a god damn Bantam. And at this point, he’s pretty much a bottom-six guy. Granted, Cozens would be a hell of a lot cheaper than Artem Anisimov, the costliest 4C there ever was, but is it really worth using the third pick on a third-liner? He may be a top-six player one day but that will depend on a lot of improvement.

I guess you could argue that there’s nothing inherently wrong with the Hawks taking another forward, since the depth they have could either 1) end up being filled with shit, or 2) lead to a roulette wheel of forwards and we don’t know who will work well together yet so why not have a whole bunch of them. But if he can’t make it as a center on the depth chart, it’s tough to imagine Cozens on a line with Toews or Strome, since that would leave Top Cat and Garbage Dick to move to their off side (not happening) or Cozens himself would have to move (not proven that could work).

And, with all of that being the case it would be incredibly frustrating to see the third pick come to that, rather than Byram, when we all know damn well it’s the blue line we have to worry about. Seriously, talking about a potential NHL center when there’s a quality defenseman available is annoying in itself, so thanks for that, Hawks.

Verdict

Dylan Cozens wouldn’t hurt the lineup, but he may not help it much either. He could be packaged as part of a deal, since there is no shortage of young forwards for the Hawks to be dealing, but it’s hard to see that as a worthwhile use of a #3 pick. Unless that deal can magically bring Dougie Hamilton, then fine. Even in a worst-case scenario he won’t really do any harm and could potentially be a decent center. So that’s…something? And maybe we’d have another guy to use the Dave Chappelle Dylan gif for.

Everything Else

Welcome to the FFUD #3 Pick Preview. Each day, we’ll look at one prospect the Hawks might have a chance at with the #3 pick and walk you through the ins and outs, the what-have-yous, the strands going through ol’ Duder’s head. We’ve narrowed it down to five guys, and much like the restaurant chain, you’ll likely walk in thinking, “This was a good idea,” and walk out grabbing or clenching some part yourself that you shouldn’t have to. Today is Alex Turcotte.

Physical Stats

Height: 5’11”; Weight: 185 lbs.; Shot: Left

On-Ice Stats (2018-19)

League: USHL/USDP; Team: USNTP Juniors/USNTP U18; Position: Center

53 GP, 39 G, 57 A, 36 PIM (Combined)

Why The Hawks Should Take Him

You rarely come across a player with the combination of offensive skill and defensive prowess at the center position that Turcotte brings. The last time the Hawks were in this position with a #3 pick, they found themselves one Jonathan Toews, and I’d venture a hot take and say that pick worked out. Turcotte has drawn comparisons to Toews, and some even have fentured to say that he may have a tad more offensive ability than Toews did at the time of his draft.

Turcotte’s ceiling is probably that of a 1C, although there are legitimate questions about A) his ability to reach that ceiling and B) how high he ranks on the list of 1C’s if/when he’s there. While the comparisons to Toews are certainly nice, I am of the belief that if NHL scouts really thought he had that kind of ceiling, he’d be the #2 pick in the draft. With all due respect to Kaapo Kakko, if it’s me I am taking the future 1C over the future top line winger.

Turcotte’s scoring ability seems to project well to the NHL, as some models (like this one) think he could be among the top producers at the NHL level among players in this draft. However those projection models are hardly 100% accurate, so of course take that with a grain of salt. That being said, at his ceiling Turcotte could be a franchise-anchoring center, and the Hawks don’t have anyone really close to that in the system right now. I love Dylan Strome and think there’s still a shot he can be a #1, but he’s more likely a long-term high-level 2C, which is perfectly fine. Turcotte’s timeline to the NHL and being that anchor of a team seems likely to align well with Toews eventual descent from greatness, but that also could be considered a negative as we will see now.

Along with it all, Turcotte is a local guy, which is certain to be a marketing home run and keep the giardiniera soaked idiots on their couches pleased.

Why The Hawks Shouldn’t Take Him

Let’s just rip off the band-aid here: the Hawks shouldn’t take him because he’s not Bowen Byram. More generally, he isn’t a defenseman, and while the 1C-ceiling type prospect is lacking in this organization, the Hawks don’t necessarily need to find one right away. Toews is coming off a strong “bounce-back” year in which the bad-luck bug finally left him alone. And while I did just say Strome is probably not a future-1C, we’re still only three years and 106 NHL games removed from NHL scouts thinking he was one, and he was nearly a point-per-game player after coming to the Hawks, and he’s still only 22, which all adds up to mean that he probably should get a bit more time to show if that ceiling is still there.

On top of that, Turcotte is not ready to play at the NHL level next year, and while that doesn’t necessarily have to be a priority with your #3 pick, it would certainly be nice to add someone who can contribute right away and has a high-level ceiling you lack in the system. You don’t get an opportunity like that in the draft if you’re not in the top-3, and the Hawks weren’t supposed to be here, so they have to maximize the return here.

On top of all of that, the Hawks picking a center when they so clearly need to address the blue line both now and in the future would signal a major lack of of what I call Knowing Just What The Fuck We Are Doing Here. We’ve talked about the embarrassment of riches the Hawks think they have on the blue line due to the NHL players (a term applied very loosely to most of the guys on the main roster) and prospects they have, but they lack major upside on anyone, unless you’re higher on Adam Boqvist than most, which I admittedly might be. But adding someone like Byram to the organization would actually put you in a position of strength, especially when you’d then have two of the better right-shooting blue line prospects in the game to potentially flip in the future for, say, a player who might have a ceiling as a 1C.

On top of that, Turcotte is a local guy, which certainly has the Hawks pitching a tent but has never proven to work out for them (Hinostroza, Hartman, Hayden, etc. WHY DID THEY ALL START WITH H?!?!). Not that being from Illinois means he is not the player people think he is, but if that ends up actually playing into his decision we have yet another red flag on this organization’s evaluative standards.

Also, you might end up handing Colorado a future pairing of Byram and Cale Makar, which would be grounds for firing on the stage immediately.

Verdict

Picking Turcotte would be fine, and I won’t necessarily be mad about it. But it has potential to be a major fuck up, would present a clear lack of understanding on the front office’s part of how to get back into contention, and I would definitely be disappointed.

Just pick Byram.

Everything Else

Welcome to the FFUD #3 Pick Preview. Each day, we’ll look at one prospect the Hawks might have a chance at with the #3 pick and walk you through the ins and outs, the what-have-yous, the strands going through ol’ Duder’s head. We’ve narrowed it down to five guys, and much like the restaurant chain, you’ll likely walk in thinking, “This was a good idea,” and walk out grabbing or clenching some part yourself that you shouldn’t have to. Today is Bowen Byram.

Physical Stats

Height: 6’00”; Weight: 194 lbs.; Shot: Left

On-Ice Stats (2018-19)

League: WHL; Team: Vancouver Giants; Position: Defense

26 G, 45 A, 71 P, 80 PIM

Why the Hawks Should Take Him

Bowen Byram is the best player likely to be available to the Hawks at #3. Just about every scouting outfit has him as the #3 best prospect. Though we have a tenuous-at-best relationship with scouting reports around here (“DeBrincat will top out at 20 goals,” dear reader), this is what we’re working with.

Byram is fast and an outstanding skater. The Hawks have precisely zero of those on their blue line. According to Corey Pronman, he’s one of the best skaters available, full stop. In case you weren’t watching me evacuate my bowels all over every wall that I could about it last year, the Hawks need better skaters out of the backend.

Keith isn’t it anymore, no matter how much anyone wants to wail for it to be 2013 again. Murphy’s never really been that guy. Gustafsson can be recklessly creative but he’s the kind of fast you see when the slowest horse wins because all the other ones fell down. Forsling sucks. Seabrook blows. Maatta is blue line Anisimov. The rest of the flotsam have names that sound like their skill levels. This blue line is hot garbage, and unless the Hawks find real contributors, they are going to suck out loud again.

With Byram, the Hawks can have their cake and eat it, too. They don’t need to decide between best and need, because the best player available is the one they need. Unlike the current crop of defensive prospects the Hawks have in Harju, Boqvist, Beaudin et al., Byram projects to be ready on both ends of the ice immediately.

His 71 points in the WHL were third among all WHL D-men. His 26 goals led all D-men by far. He played on the PK, and his PIM numbers show he’s no shrinking violet, so he’s got appeal to both nerds and the hardest giardiniera farters in town. And he was only seven-fucking-teen!

You probably won’t ever get anything like that from Harju. There aren’t grumblings about his defense like there are with Boqvist and Beaudin. Though you never want to pin your hopes on an 18-year-old D-man, Byram is about as ready as you can be.

The Hawks should take Byram because their defense is a shambles. Maatta is a $4 million prayer who’s had more bad seasons than good. On a team comprised of two second-pairing guys (Murphy, Keith), a ton of 6s and 7s, and a bunch of kids who might not actually know how to play defense, Byram would immediately stand out. He’d also give the Brain Trust breathing room to trade someone like Boqvist or Harju as part of a package for a real D-man.

This shouldn’t be hard. The Hawks need better, faster, NHL-ready D-men. Byram is that. Pick him.

Why the Hawks Shouldn’t Pick Byram

More than anything, the Hawks shouldn’t pick Byram for Byram’s sake. As the years have gone by, it’s become clearer that good defense is born-on-third-Bowman’s clitoris: He can never find it, always looks in the wrong spot, and the things he does when he thinks he’s found it cause more agony than ecstasy. But man, oh man is he going to brag about even getting in the area code.

Re-signing Jan Rutta. Trading Rutta for Koekkoek, then re-signing Koekkoek. Not (yet) capitalizing on the Myth of Erik Gustafsson. Bragging that Brandon Motherfucking Manning was just about to enter his prime. And that was all just last year! You look at just some of these moves and wonder whether Bowman even remembers how the Hawks won all those Cups. It wasn’t with bloated and middling-at-best D-men. Yet, that’s his refuge of late.

The last successful D-man that they’ve brought up through their system was Hjalmarsson. The last successful D-man they even fostered was Nick Leddy. Is this a fate we want for a rising star like Byram?

More seriously, you can maybe make the case that the Hawks have a logjam at defense and that Byram might not have room to fit. Disabuse yourself of that notion, because it’s horseshit. The “logjam” is Seabrook; Forsling; Koekkoek; Dahlstrom; a fading Keith; and a bunch of defensive maybes in Boqvist, Beaudin, and Harju. Byram could walk into camp and break that logjam up in one or two sessions. But you watch Stan & Co. make that argument when they draft someone other than Byram and continue trotting out this Eric the Clown blue line next year.

Verdict

Unless the Hawks made the Maatta move as a table-setter for someone like Dougie, it’ll be a huge disappointment if they don’t take Byram. He’s a gifted skater with proven offensive skills who is good at worst at playing defense. This Core isn’t getting younger, and if the Hawks want to squeeze one more Cup run out of it, they need fast D-men who can push play and hold their own in their own end. Byram is that guy right now, and he’d be the only one with those credentials on the Hawks for Game #1 if they take him.

Pinning your hopes on an 18-year-old D-man. Just slap us sideways and call us the Sabres.