In three weeks on Friday, June 21st, the Chicago Blackhawks will have to make a final decision on the 3rd overall pick. There has been a lot of speculation surrounding a handful of prospects, but it could be down to just two players at this point. If the Blackhawks decide to go the defenseman route, they will certainly select Bowen Byram from the Vancouver Giants of the WHL.
The forward that seems to be the current favorite is Island Lake, Illinois native Alex Turcotte. Turcotte spent last season playing for the U.S. Development Program, where he registered 27 goals and 35 assists in just 37 games. While players like Dylan Cozens, Trevor Zegras, and Cole Caufield are still in consideration, it seems like Byram and Turcotte are the top choices at the moment.
The Case For Bowen Byram
If the Chicago Blackhawks decide to select a defenseman in the first round for the third consecutive year, there’s no doubt they will select Bowen Byram. The 6’0″, 194 lb defenseman is coming off an impressive campaign for the Vancouver Giants with 71 points (26G, 45A) in 67 games. He was also a big reason why the Giants made it to the WHL finals, where, unfortunately, they lost in seven games. Byram lead the WHL playoffs in points with eight goals and 18 assists in 22 games. Here’s a quick glimpse of what Bowen Byram can provide from the backend.
Byram’s patience with the puck and ability to create plays are a couple of reasons why he’s regarded as the top defenseman of this draft class. He is known for his confidence with the puck in tough situations and his elite skating ability.
On the defensive side, Byram is sound and has strong instincts to take away passing and shooting lanes. Overall, Bowen Byram has the potential to be a number one defenseman. The Chicago Blackhawks have a lot of defenseman prospects already, but only Henri Jokiharju seems to have the potential to be a true top defenseman. Both Adam Boqvist and Nicolas Beaudin are known more for their offensive upside rather than their defensive tendencies. If the Blackhawks feel that Bowen Byram is the best player available, then they should confidently select him 3rd overall.
The Case For Alex Turcotte
If the Blackhawks take a forward in the first round for the first time since Nick Schmaltz in 2014, then there are a lot of different ways they could go. A current top option is 18-year-old Alex Turcotte. Turcotte is an ultra-competitive center that has tremendous skill and speed. He plays a strong 200-foot game and has an unmatched compete level.
Despite his 5’11”, 185 lb frame, Turcotte wins a substantial amount of puck battles. He prides himself on his competitive nature and the fire he plays with every game. That sounds exactly like the type of player the Blackhawks need right now. Here’s a quick look at the vision and skill Turcotte possesses.
Alex Turcotte has the potential to become a top-line center one day. He has the versatility to dominate in all facets of the game. Many believe that Turcotte’s game will translate well to the NHL level because of his ability to play at such a high speed. The game is being played faster than ever in today’s NHL, and that might work in Turcotte’s favor. He loves to push the pace of the game while driving the puck toward the net. The Illinois-born center has no fear of going to the slot to create scoring opportunities. He loves to go to the dirty areas and thrives near the crease.
All in all, Turcotte is a perfect combination of skill and tenacity. If the Blackhawks decide to go the forward route at number three, it would be hard to pass on a player like Alex Turcotte.
Who is the Right Choice?
No matter which direction the Chicago Blackhawks decide to go with the 3rd overall pick, they will walk away with a potential game-changing player. Bowen Byram would be a solid addition to an already talented defenseman prospect pool. While many argue that the Blackhawks already have enough young defensemen, Byram would immediately become the team’s top prospect. It would be tough to pass up on the top defenseman of the draft, especially after watching the Blackhawks defense last season.
If the Blackhawks decide to go after a forward, then the situation becomes a lot more interesting. Alex Turcotte is a combination of skill and determination that has Blackhawks fans reminiscing of a young Jonathan Toews. He’s a center that doesn’t have any clear flaws and can play at NHL speed. While Turcotte may be the top forward option in a lot of people’s eyes, forwards like Dylan Cozens, Cole Caufield, and Trevor Zegras are certainly still in the mix. Just this afternoon the Blackhawks director of scouting, Mark Kelley, said they’ve narrowed it down to six guys.
If the Blackhawks truly have six guys still in the mix, then they should consider trading down a few picks. Adding assets to the current roster while also coming away with a top prospect would be huge. Although, this could be what the Blackhawks want everyone to think. Who knows what’s really going on in the war room between Stan Bowman and company? If the Blackhawks decide to keep the 3rd overall pick, they certainly can’t go wrong with either Bowen Byram or Alex Turcotte.
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