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Options for Chicago Blackhawks’ 2nd-round picks

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Chicago Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson considers this year’s NHL draft pool to be deep, “certainly through the second round.”

That’s a good thing for the Hawks, who own five picks in the first two rounds, including the Nos. 34, 54 and 62 selections in Round 2.

“There’s always players that end up surprising people and being a little bit better than you would have thought at 18 years old, and it’s our job to try and find those,” Davidson said.

Dan Marr, vice president of NHL Central Scouting, agrees.

“There’s no deficit, that’s for sure,” he said.

When asked about players who likely will be available at the top of the second round (the No. 34 pick is the second selection in Round 2), Marr listed several defensemen, including Adam Kleber of the USHL’s Lincoln Stars, EJ Emery of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, Ben Danford of the OHL’s Oshawa Generals and Colton Roberts of the WHL’s Vancouver Giants.

“Kleber, Danford and Emery, these are guys that aren’t going to be expected to put up big numbers, but they can play big minutes, shutdown guys, handle the physicality and play a bit of a shutdown role,” Marr said.

He also name-checked some forwards with “grit”: Sam O’Reilly of the OHL’s London Knights, Cole Beaudoin of the OHL’s Barrie Colts and Andrew Basha of the WHL’s Medicine Hat Tigers.

We previously looked at five potential options for the Hawks with the No. 2 pick and three other players they might target at No. 20. Here are seven more players who might be available in the second round.

1. Tanner Howe

Tanner Howe of the Regina Pats celebrates his team's first period goal against the Brandon Wheat Kings at Westoba Place on Sept. 22, 2023 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. (Jonathan Kozub/Getty)
Tanner Howe of the Regina Pats celebrates his team’s first period goal against the Brandon Wheat Kings at Westoba Place on Sept. 22, 2023 in Brandon, Manitoba, Canada. (Jonathan Kozub/Getty)

As Connor Bedard’s former linemate with the WHL’s Regina Pats, the winger has a built-in connection on the Hawks if they choose him.

“He helped Bedard just as much as Bedard helped his game,” Marr said.

Howe was invited to the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game in January in Moncton, New Brunswick. He had 28 goals for the Pats (slightly down from the previous year’s 36) and 49 assists in 68 games.

Marr said Howe is “not the biggest guy (but) he still had a very good season, even though the (Regina) team wasn’t as strong.”

Howe is listed at 5-10 — “5-9½,” Marr said — and 175 pounds, and “you can only have so many small forwards on your roster to have a competitive lineup,” he said. “The best (of those) players end up in the NHL, but he has the potential to be one of those NHL players. He’s a real talent.”

2. Cole Beaudoin

Goal scorer Cole Beaudoin, from left, Ryder Ritchie and Matthew Schaefer of Canada celebrate a power-play goal during the IIHF U18 World Championship final on May 5, 2024, in Espoo, Finland. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)
Goal scorer Cole Beaudoin, from left, Ryder Ritchie and Matthew Schaefer of Canada celebrate a power-play goal during the IIHF U18 World Championship final on May 5, 2024, in Espoo, Finland. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)

Beaudoin ranks 25th on Central Scouting’s North American skaters list. The center posted 28 goals and 34 assists in 67 OHL games with the Colts, a big leap from eight goals and 12 assists in 63 games the previous season.

“He plays like his last name is Tkachuk,” Marr said. “He’s just got that mix of … smart, good skills, just not elite.

“He’s an athlete as well. He’s 6-2, 209, he’s a solid athlete, but he can play the physical game. He can own the boards, own the corners and the front of the net. He can protect the puck, cycle the puck in the offensive zone to where he’s hard to jump, hard to get the puck off.”

In the playoffs, “you need the Cole Beaudoins in your lineup to win,” Marr said.

3. Dominik Badinka

The 6-3, 183-pound defenseman is Czech by birth and has played three seasons with 2023 Hawks third-round pick Jiri Felcman on Czechia’s international junior team.

This season Badinka joined Malmo of the Swedish league.

“I think he thought he would have a better chance to develop there, but he was in Finland the year before,” Marr said. “He obviously wants to be a hockey player because he left home, went to Finland and went to Sweden, and those are the two European countries that generate a lot of NHL players.

“His hockey sense is strong. He skates really well for his height.”

Marr said the Badinka buzz is growing.

“Going into the combine, he’s one of the higher European players with interview requests, so teams are keyed in on him,” he said.

4. Ilya Protas

The left wing for the USHL’s Des Moines Buccaneers checks in at 6-4 and 184 pounds, and his older brother, Aliaksei, has played three seasons for the Washington Capitals.

“(Early) this season, he wasn’t on our list,” Marr said. “And now on our final list, he’s at 49. So he’s well-known. I know teams are spending a lot of time finding out more about him.”

Marr added that the Belarusian has “nice moves” for a forward his size, and he has improved his strength and skating.

“He ticks a lot of boxes for a lot of clubs,” Marr said. “We have him pegged as a ‘B’ prospect, but he could be … a late bloomer.”

5. Lukas Fischer

The 6-3, 173-pound defenseman is following in the footsteps of his father, former Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jiri Fischer. Marr said the younger Fischer has “raw potential.”

With the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, “he got a lot of ice time, more ice time than he should have had at his age (17),” Marr said. “And you make mistakes, you learn from your mistakes, and he has.”

6. Cole Hutson

Carson Wetsch, left, of Canada vies with Cole Hutson of the U.S. during the IIHF U18 World Championship final on May 5, 2024, in Espoo, Finland. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)
Carson Wetsch, left, of Canada vies with Cole Hutson of the U.S. during the IIHF U18 World Championship final on May 5, 2024, in Espoo, Finland. (Jussi Nukari/Lehtikuva via AP)

The NTDP U18 defenseman also has family pedigree: He’s the younger brother of Montreal Canadiens defenseman Lane Hutson.

Marr said Cole Hutson “probably won (over) a lot of doubters near the end of the season (and) in the U18” World Championship this month in Finland. The North Barrington native was named to the tournament’s all-star team as one of the top two defenders.

Marr believes Hutson will get drafted higher than where he’s ranked (55th among North American skaters).

“He’s got a similar skating style to his brother, but they do play different games,” Marr said. “Lane has a more mature offensive game. Cole’s game is a little bit more reckless but in a good way. Not that he hurts his team, but he takes more chances.”

7. Kamil Bednarik

Like Hutson, his NTDP U18 teammate, Bednarik is another local, from Elmhurst.

Marr calls him a “Ryan O’Reilly type” in terms of his skill, character and competitiveness.

“He’s the one that goes in the corners to come up with the puck and gets the job done,” Marr said. “He just brings out a little extra physical element.”

Bednarik, a Boston University signee like Hutson and potential No. 2 pick Cole Eiserman, has a two-way game. He had two goals and four assists at the U18 worlds.

“His skill set, you don’t get to see it shine as much as the Eisermans and the (Teddy) Stigas and these guys in the program because they’ve got all the best players from across the country,” Marr said. “They all can’t be top-line forwards on the power play every game. But he’s a talented prospect.”



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