23 June, 2012
A very Bowman draft for the Blackhawks
Malcom Subban went to the Bruins, who don't really need him.
The Blackhawks- who really, really did- instead chose a seventeen year-old left wing from Finland, Teuvo Teravainen, who was expected to go much higher in the draft and who has been compared to Patrick Kane (but hopefully with more maturity). Teravainen can also play center, a crying need for the Hawks.
Not a bad choice at all. I can really understand grabbing a talent like Teravainen who somehow was still available even at the risk of losing Subban. I wouldn't have done it, but that doesn't mean there's not an upside.
Chicago also selected defenseman Dillon Fornier in the second round. Another decent pick, but only decent. And the goalie the Hawks finally selected- in the seventh round- was Matt Tompkins, who was rated tenth among North American goalies in the draft and whose numbers are not particularly encouraging. Another merely decemt prospect without much upside, a commodity with which the Hawks' system is well-stocked.
Meanwhile, we're still stuck with Corey Crawford between the pipes, and no relief in sight.
All in all, Bowman- the clueless wonder who think that the Hawks, at best a middle-of-the-pack playoff team, only need "a few tweaks" to win another Stanley Cup- did better than I feared, though not nearly as well as I'd hoped. I guess we'll have to look to free agency and trades to provide those "tweaks," which will need to include decent goaltending, greatly improved team toughness (including an ability to dominate the shooting lanes the Hawks lost when they lost Dustin Byfuglien), at least one more strong defenseman (and preferably two), another solid center, and vastly improved special teams.
Maybe this draft will provide a few of those answers- a few years down the line. And don't get me wrong; Teravainen and Fornier, at least, were decent picks. But this is an organization notorious for having unbelievable depth in throughly mediocre hockey players, while lacking stars anywhere but on the parent club. The Hawks' two top picks may well prove to be anything but mediocre, but somehow I have my doubts about Tompkins as the goalie of the future.
And I still have grave doubts as to Stan Bowman's fitness as general manager. He has a long way to go to prove to me that he hasn't been possessed by the spirit of Bob Pulford.
ADDENDUM: Here is another take on what to expect from Teravainen. However disgruntled I am by Bowman's failure to address the Hawks' netminding woes, it should be said that adding a Claude Giroux or a Martin St. Louis to the team isn't a bad days work all by itself.
Or even another Patrick Kane.
ADDENDUM II: Oops, I missed one- and it's a major mistake.
The Hawks drafted two goalies in the seventh round. The other one is Brandon Whitney- the number two rated North American goalie, right behind Subban.
That changes things a bit. I'm not sure I want to criticize Bowman to much for passing on Subban and coming up with both Teravainen and Whitney, even though the drop in talent from Subban to Whitney is rather steep, if the scouting reports are right.
This could turn out to be a decent draft for the Hawks after all. But one thing remains certain: Bowman is on the bubble.
If he doesn't make some major moves to correct the Hawks' glaring weaknesses- weaknesses he thus far as declined to acknowledge- over the off season, and we get bounced from the playoffs in the first round for the third straight year, he has to go.
There is no excuse possible for not addressing problems as plain as the four feathers on the Chief's head.