Over the past week, we have been looking back five years at how the major sports teams in Chicago drafted in 2007. So far we have examined the 2007 Draft of the Chicago Cubs, the 2007 Draft of the Chicago Bears, the 2007 Draft of the Chicago Bulls, and the 2007 Chicago White Sox. Now, let's finish the series by looking back at the 2007 Draft for the Chicago Blackhawks.
This was a special year for the Blackhawks. Never before had Chicago, an Original Six franchise, selected first overall, but finally the time had come for the bottomed-out Blackhawks to step to the podium before everyone else. And then-GM Dale Tallon made it count.
Round One - Pick One: Patrick Kane, RW
Do I really need to continue explaining how the Hawks got it right? Kane was considered one of two likely players to go with the first overall selection, the other being James vanRiemsdyk (drafted by, and now playing for the Philadelphia Flyers). Kane has established a number of benchmarks in Hawks' team history for scoring, and has represented the organization in multiple All-Star Games and the 2010 Winter Olympics.
In what was a pretty soft first round, Kane has been the exception. Logan Couture of San Jose and Kevin Shattenkirk in St. Louis are turning into really good young players, but both is a couple years behind Kane.
Round Two - Pick 38: Billy Sweatt, F
Round Two - Pick 56: Akim Aliu, F
Again, this wasn't an outstanding draft class, but the Hawks probably could have done better with these two selections. In fact, both players were involved in the post-Cup sell-off that took place in the summer of 2010. Sweatt never signed with the organization, and his draft rights were ultimately traded to Toronto with Kris Versteeg. Aliu was part of the blockbuster trade involving Dustin Byfulien and the Atlanta Thrashers. Both players have moved on to another organization since.
Three players selected in the four players from that second round could have been Blackhawks, and may have been a better selection than Sweatt or Aliu.
Pick 42: Eric Tangradi, F - Anaheim Ducks
Pick 43: PK Subban, D - Montreal Canadiens
Pick 55: TJ Galiardi, F - Colorado Avalanche
Pick 61: Wayne Simmonds, F - Los Angeles Kings
Two of these players have been moved (Tangradi to Pittsburgh, Simmonds to Philadelphia) and probably the most accomplished of the four is Simmonds. But each has proved to be a solid NHL player, and could have made an impact in Chicago by now.
Round Three - Pick 69: Maxim Tanguay, F
Round Three - Pick 86: Josh Unice, G
Haven't heard of either of these guys? You aren't alone. But the entire third round in 2007 was a flop. Forward Nick Palmieri and defenseman Yannick Weber have seen little action in the NHL, but the rest of the third round was bad. However, the Blackhawks did not have a fourth round selection in 2007, and there were some decent players that were selected in that round.
Pick 95: Alex Martinez, D - Los Angeles Kings
Pick 110: Justin Falk, D - Minnesota Wild
Pick 116: Keith Aulie, D - Calgary Flames
Falk has been decent in Minnesota this season, and Martinez has been good for the Kings for over a year. Aulie was part of the trade that sent Dion Phaneuf to Toronto, and is well liked by the Leafs.
Round Five - Pick 126: Joe Lavin, D
Lavin played at Notre Dame for a couple years before signing with the Hawks and beginning his pro career in Rockford this season. He's a good-looking defenseman in an organization that happens to have a lot of good-looking defenseman. It's hard to tell if he'll get to the NHL with the Blackhawks organization.
But the Blackhawks along with 28 other organizations, now look back at the 2007 Draft and the best player not-named-Patrick Kane didn't come off the board until 129th overall selection.
Pick 129: Jamie Benn, F - Dallas Stars
Benn is one of the best young players in the NHL, and represented Dallas in the All-Star Game this year. It's hard to toss Tallon under the bus for missing on this one when 128 names were called before Benn, but this kid is a home run and the kind of fifth round pick that gets a general manager a little job security for a few years. If the 2007 Draft was done all over again today, Benn would probably be the second player picked.
Round Six - Pick 156: Richard Greenop, F
If you read this name and assumed I was referring to the author of "Proud To Be An American," it's ok; that was Lee Greenwood. Richard Greenop will be best remembered for... something other than hockey. But he was drafted by the Blackhawks, so he's got that going for him... which is nice.
Here are a couple guys the Hawks could/should have selected in the sixth round:
Pick 168: Carl Hagelin, F - New York Rangers
Pick 171: Dustin Jeffrey, F - Pittsburgh Penguins
Both of these guys are just coming into their own in the NHL this season, but Hagelin was the fastest skater at the All-Star Skills competition. And, most importantly, neither has been confused for a folk singer.
The Blackhawks didn't have a pick in the seventh round, but there was one player that fell all the way to the final round that, like Benn, has a lot of teams wondering "what if?"
Pick 194: Carl Gunnarson, D - Toronto Maple Leafs
Gunnarson's name has actually surfaced in a few trade rumors involving the Blackhawks lately. He's a solid defenseman who is averaging over 22 minutes per game this year, and has blocked over 100 shots again this year.
As we look back at the 2007 NHL Draft, there weren't many home runs. Certainly everyone would love to get another chance at Benn or Gunnarson, but Blackhawks fans shouldn't have any complaints about what the organization has received from Kane in the last few years.