Thursday, June 25, 2009

HockeeNight's Forklift provides Chicago Blackhawks draft thoughts

Unlike bloggers who must hide their identity because they have "jobs" and "reputations" I've decided to go by my name. Why? Well, because I'm vain. Oh and also because simply googling "James O'Brien" won't get you anywhere near my blog ... apparently there's about a million more successful people with my name.

Still, it's rare that people get to know me beyond snarky blog posts but the guys at Hockee Night invited me over for a podcast a few months ago. We had quite a time, discussing the Blackhawks and more important issues like Big Van Vader's man boobs.

ANYWAY, we've enjoyed Hockee Night thoroughly since then. Their weekly podcasts are a great way to follow the Blackhawks without all that tedious "reading" although they do provide plenty of good stuff on that front too. Make sure to check it out.

Thanks, guys!

1. What direction do you expect Chicago to go in with this year's draft? What's your preference?

The Hawks are drafting 28th in the first round - the latest they've ever gone in the first. When you pick this late, you're not going to find any sure-fire studs - the best you can hope for is someone who has a missing component that can attain. If there's a goal scorer available, chances are he's either lazy or chickenshit. If there's a "character" player out there, he probably can't shoot the puck into the ocean off a pier. There's no easy answers. All that is certain is, at the 28th pick, there's going to be some kid sitting in a very empty players' section, and he'll look like a guy strapped into an electric chair when the Governor calls.

Can you draft to need at 28? I guess you can - the Blackhawks' organization is pretty thin at defenseman, so a decent blueliner in the pipeline wouldn't be the worst thing inthe world. The Hawks are ass-deep in forwards, both in Junior and the minors. That would indicate where GM Dale Tallon (a former defenseman himself) would like to go.

However, the most sound strategy (and the Hawks have been decent at drafting lately) would be to just have a ranking of players who might be available, and take the best one who is left at 28. Whoever it is won't be able to help the Hawks immediately anyway, and who knows what a year or two can bring, as far as injuries, trades, and free agency goes.

2. Looking back, discuss some of the highest and lowest draft moments in Blackhawks history. What are some of the "steals" and groan-inducing moments that Chicago fans will never forget?

High moments? Probably the back-to-back drafting of Jonathan Toews (#3 overall in 2006) and Patrick Kane (#1 in 2007). These two will be the backbone of the organization for (hopefully) the next decade. As far as the biggest steals, two that are fairly ancient history spring to 1980 the Hawks took a sixth-rounder (120th overall) that may very well be my favorite Hawk not named Mikita...Steve Larmer. The man is still just the balls. Three years later, they took a goalie in the 10th round (199th overall) who had a far more distinguished career elsewhere than he ever did as a Blackhawk - Dominik Hasek. As far as groan inducing? Maybe The Great Adam Bennett (6th overall in 1989) - who went 4 spots before Bobby Holik or The Great Jimmy Waite (8th overall in 1978, 7 spots before Joe Sakic), although this is a shit-or-get-off-the-pot year for the 7th overall in 2005, Jack Skille.

Overall, this shouldn't be too compelling, since Tallon doesn't figure to trade up or down.

As much fun as it is to have a top 3 pick, and wonder which wunderkind will pose in a Hawks' sweater and cap, I prefer winning hockey and going out with my wife on draft night.

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