As with everything, how you judge last night’s first round is whether or not you take the Blackhawks at their word. And that’s not really something we do around here.
As Fifth Feather pointed out on Twitter, the Hawks for the past two years have come out and said their performance is unacceptable and that changes will be made and safe is death and all that. Except…there haven’t really been changes. A couple trades, which sure, fine, that counts but those had cap considerations to them as well.
So if the Hawks were truly hellbent on change and shaking things up and lunging desperately for one more run, you probably don’t take the biggest project available at #8. In reality, you don’t use that #8 at all and you try and find a trade for something that helps now. Let’s be clear, there was on player the Hawks could have taken, once Zadina didn’t quite slip to them, that would have made this team in the upcoming season. But there were players that might have helped in ’19-’20.
Adam Boqvist is not that.
That doesn’t mean Boqvist won’t turn out to be the best d-man in this draft, besides from Dahlin. He very well may be. The skating is other worldly as is the other creativity. It’s heartening to see the Hawks not bewitched by size and just deciding to take the most skill they can find, and bodes well for how they will play in the coming years. If Boqvist can flower and Jokiharju and Mitchell are what they’ve promised, that’s a pretty mobile and dynamic blue line you’re going to be rocking in three years.
Still, Wahlstrom was there and would have helped sooner. Dobson might have as well, though we’ve been over what d-men out of the Q turn out to be. Ty Smith would have been a reach but given how the picks ahead of them went maybe they could have traded down and gotten an extra pick? Who knows?
While the theme was that the Hawks concentrated on defense, when talking about a draft where no one is going to help in the next season and after the first round probably not the next two, it’s a better plan to just draft the best available. If the Hawks felt that Boqvist and then Nicolas Beaudin were the best players there, fine. If they think they’re drafting for a need, and they’re looking three years down the road, what does that mean for this year? In three years Keith will be toast, Toews will be close, and Seabrook very well might look like Senator Kelly post mutation. Sure, you have to start planning for that, but you also better have a plan for how you’re going to maximize the interim. Otherwise, are you telling your “core” that the rest of their careers in Chicago aren’t going to be for much?
I also got a kick of Joel Quenneville being interviewed about Boqvist, because there’s a good chance he’ll never coach him. But we’ll have that talk another day.
So we’re past the draft, and the Hawks plan for this year still hasn’t presented itself. There’s time, as the negotiation window begins Sunday. But that’s basically only Tavares or JVR. The clock is ticking louder.