Over the last few years, we’ve taken a few days to look back five years at the drafts of Chicago’s major pro sports teams. The first two years of the series felt pretty good; in 2006 the Hawks selected Jonathan Toews, and in 2007 they chose Patrick Kane. Unfortunately, last year’s look back saw Kyle Beach as the Hawks’ top pick in the 2008 Draft.
As we look back five years this summer, we find an intriguing time in the Hawks’ history. Dale Tallon was the General Manager of the Blackhawks still when the 2009 Draft took place, but he wouldn’t be there for long. Stan Bowman would be named the ninth GM in the history of Chicago’s NHL franchise on July 17, 2009 – less than one month after that summer’s draft (June 26-27 in Montreal).
There was a great deal of high-end talent in the 2009 Draft. John Tavares, the number one overall pick by the Islanders, is becoming an elite superstar in the league. And he isn’t alone from that summer’s draft. Tampa selected Victor Hedman at number two, and Colorado picked Matt Duchene at number three. Then-Atlanta selected Evander Kane at number four, and each of the top four overall selections have played at least 324 games in the NHL already.
Also selected before the Hawks were on the clock were defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson (6) and forwards Nazem Kadri (7), Chris Kreider (19) and Marcus Johansson (24).
The 2009 Draft was a departure from the early picks the Hawks had enjoyed the previous few years; the Hawks made the jump from chump to Western Conference Final contender in the amazing 2008-09 season. This draft is also one that has been at the heart of a lot of dialogue for Blackhawks fans over the last couple years, and continues to be a focal point of discussion.
In the first round of the 2009 Draft, the Blackhawks selected defenseman Dylan Olsen with the 28th overall selection. A big, physical defenseman, many fans were excited to see how he developed. Olsen went to the University of Minnesota-Duluth for a couple years before turning pro. He got a long look at the NHL level – 28 games – during the 2011-12 season, but struggled with the speed of the game.
Last November, Olsen was part of the trade that brought Kris Versteeg back to Chicago. This isn’t the first – or last – time that Florida or Versteeg was involved in a trade involving a player from the 2009 Draft.
Olsen has a teammate in Florida who was selected in the second round of the 2009 Draft. Brandon Pirri, who many felt could have been the elusive second line center answer for the Hawks over the last couple years, was the Blackhawks pick at 59 overall. Pirri jumped into the lineup on Opening Night in 2010 when Patrick Sharp was sick, and would see action with the NHL team in each of the next three seasons. He led the AHL in points and assists during the 2012-13 season, posting 75 points in 76 games.
In total, Pirri scored six goals and added seven assists in 35 NHL games with the Blackhawks before he was traded to – you guessed it – Florida.
So the Blackhawks have traded their first two picks in the 2009 Draft to Florida in the last 12 months.
With that in mind, the 2009 NHL Draft continues to have an enormous impact on the current Chicago Blackhawks.
The Hawks’ fifth round pick in 2009 was a skinny young center from Sweden named Marcus Krüger. Only three players selected after the end of the first round that year have played in more than 200 regular season games at the NHL level thus far: Colorado’s Ryan O’Reilly (33), Los Angeles’ Kyle Clifford (35) and Krüger (149).
Over the last two years, Krüger has developed in a top penalty killer and has made great improvements at the dot. It’s hard to look back at the 2009 Draft and not consider Krüger one of the better value selections in that class.
But Krüger isn’t where the story of the 2009 Draft ends for the Blackhawks.
Including the break-up of the 2010 Stanley Cup championship roster, the Hawks have now acquired three other players who were drafted in the first round of the 2009 Draft among a handful of players who were picked that summer.
- Minnesota selected defenseman Nick Leddy with the 16th overall pick. He was acquired by Bowman during the 2009-10 season in the now-legendary Cam Barker trade.
- St. Louis selected defenseman David Rundblad with the 17th overall pick. He was acquired from Arizona by Bowman during the 2013-14 season.
- Carolina selected forward Philippe Paradis with the 27th overall pick. The Hawks acquired Paradis from Toronto with Viktor Stalberg in the deal that sent Versteeg to the Leafs during the summer of 2010. Chicago has since traded Paradis to Tampa for defenseman Kirill Gotovets, a seventh round pick (#183) from the 2009 Draft who will skate in either Indianapolis or Rockford this season.
- Atlanta selected forward Jeremy Morin with the 45th overall pick. The Hawks acquired Morin in the blockbuster trade that sent Dustin Byfuglien to the Thrashers (now Jets) in the summer of 2010. With a new, one-way contract in-hand, Morin figures to (finally) get a good look at the NHL level this season. He’s certainly earned it.
Leddy, Rundblad and Morin figure to have a role with the 2014-15 Blackhawks, and Leddy already has a championship ring at home.
The other players selected by the Hawks that summer were:
- Round Three (#89) – Dan Delisle
- Round Four (#119) – Byron Froese
- Round Six (#177) – David Pacan
- Round Seven (#195) – Paul Phillips
- Round Seven (#209) – David Gilbert
One of these players was also involved in a relatively significant trade that helped the Blackhawks win a championship. On Feb. 9, 2011, Pacan was a footnote on the trade sending Jack Skille and Hugh Jessiman to… you guessed it (again)… Florida. Bowman brought back Michael Frolik in that trade.
Frolik was, with Krüger, a critical part of the Hawks’ exceptional penalty killing unit during their run to the 2013 Stanley Cup. He was subsequently traded for two draft picks, one of which was used on Yale forward John Hayden; Hayden has been one of the better players at each of the last two Prospect Camps for the Hawks.
Undoubtedly this look back reads like a six degrees of separation spiderweb, but the 2009 NHL Draft continues to put a major footprint on the Blackhawks roster.