Hawks aim for distant future in draft's Day 2

June, 28, 2014
Jun 28
11:49
AM CT
Powers By Scott Powers
ESPNChicago.com
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PHILADELPHIA -- The Chicago Blackhawks focused on their long-term future in the second day of the NHL draft Saturday.

The Blackhawks drafted seven players who are headed to college in the next two years and two European players.

“We didn’t have a number in mind [for college players,] but in general you have a little more time with those players,” Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman said after the draft at the Wells Fargo Center. “You have four or five years. Some of them don’t even go to college right away.

“It’s tougher when you have a two-year window to sign a guy, you’re picking later on in the draft, sometimes they don’t define themselves by that second year and then you’ve got to make a decision -- do you sign them or not? And you lose their rights after two years.

“I think for us we’ve got a pretty full pipeline right now of young players, some have graduated to the pro level, some are rounding that point where they have a year left. The guys we draft today are further away. But we like that element of the fact that just because you have a player for four years, you don’t have to leave him there all four, but you have a little more control over it and you have more time to see which guys are going to become players.”

The Blackhawks acquired the No. 83 overall pick from the Calgary Flames in exchange for forward Brandon Bollig. The Blackhawks selected right wing Matheson Iacopelli with the pick. Iacopelli had 41 goals, 23 assists and was a plus-12 in 58 games for the Muskegon Lumberjacks of the United States Hockey League last season. He is committed to play at Western Michigan in 2015.

“We got some wings we think can really skate and handle the puck and shoot and score,” Blackhawks senior director of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said. “The Iacopelli kid is intriguing for us. He’s been through a couple of drafts, but we still think he’s behind the curve. we’re excited about him. He’s going to Western Michigan. The year he had in the USHL, the numbers he put up, he’s got a pro body and a pro shot.”

The Blackhawks drafted left wing Beau Starrett with the No. 88 overall pick. Starrett had 11 goals and 36 assists in 48 games for the South Shore Kings of the United States Premier Hockey League last season. He is committed to play at Cornell in 2015.

“Just so proud and honored,” Starrett said at the draft on Saturday. “It’s an exciting week for me and my family. It means a lot to be drafted by Chicago.

“I’m a highly-skilled power forward. I like to use my size to my advantage. I work well in transition. I play a 200-foot game. I’m also responsible in the defensive zone too.

The Blackhawks selected left wing Fredrik Olofsson with the No. 98 overall pick. Olofsson had four goals, 11 assists and was a minus-2 in 24 games last season for the Chicago Steel of the USHL. He is committed to Colorado College for next year. His brother Gustav Olofsson is a Minnesota Wild prospect.

The Blackhawks selected defenseman Luc Snuggerud with the No. 141 overall pick. Snuggerud, who is nicknamed Snuggy, played at Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota. Current Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy also played at Eden Prairie. Snuggerud is committed to play at Nebraska-Omaha next year.

“I’m familiar with [Leddy,] Snuggerud said at the draft. “It’s pretty cool seeing that he’s excelled with Chicago. Hopefully in a couple years I’ll be playing for them too.

“I’m an offensive defenseman, strong skater, hard working, competitive, can see plays and can jump up in the rush and stuff like that."

The Blackhawks drafted defenseman Andreas Soderberg at No. 148 overall. Soderberg had one goal and five assists in 36 games for Skelleftea Jr. in Sweden last season.

The Blackhawks selected forward Dylan Sikura at No. 178 overall. He had 17 goals and 47 assists in 41 games for the Aurora Tigers of the Ontario Junior Hockey League. He is committed to play at Northeastern next year.

The Blackhawks took goaltender Ivan Nalimov at No. 179. Nalimov had a 2.84 goals-against average and .894 save percentage for SKA-1946 St. Petersburg in Russia this past season.

“There’s a lot we like about him,” Kelley said. “He’s a big goaltender. He’s very athletic. We think he really wants to come to North America. He needs technique. He’s 20, played with the World Junior team with the Russians, so he does have experience. We love the upside, and with goaltenders, it’s a lot with maturity, where they are.”

With their final pick, the Blackhawks drafted Jack Ramsey at No. 208. He had nine goals and 16 assists in 57 games for Penticton Vees in the British Columbia Hockey League last season. He is committed to play at Minnesota in 2015.

The Blackhawks drafted center Nick Schmaltz at No. 20 overall on the first day of the draft. Blackhawks moved up to acquire Schmaltz. They traded their No. 27 and 62 overall picks to the San Jose Sharks for the No. 20 and 179 picks.

"We’re very happy," Kelley said. "Look at it as a whole, on the depth chart we filled a lot of things, but Schmaltz to start things off last night was huge for us. We look at his skill set to be right around the top of the draft."
Scott Powers is a general reporter for ESPNChicago.com. He is an award-winning journalist and has been reporting on preps, colleges and pros for publications throughout the Midwest since 1997.

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