PHILADELPHIA — The Blackhawks weren’t looking to fill immediate needs in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft; they have enough prospects waiting in the wings that can do that.
This weekend, they were looking for talent to cultivate, talent to develop. And they seemed to find it.
The Blackhawks drafted nine players, a mix of centers, wings, defensemen and goaltenders, as they wrapped up their 2014 draft on Saturday afternoon. It was a good haul for the Blackhawks, who were especially happy to get center Nick Schmaltz with their first-round pick on Friday night. But from Schmaltz to Jack Ramsey, the team’s seventh-round selection, it was a good weekend for the Blackhawks.
[MORE: Blackhawks deal Brandon Bollig to Flames for third-round pick]
“We had a lot of picks and added to that, so we walked away with a nice mixture, guys at every position,” general manager Stan Bowman said. “What we wanted to do was address needs across the board: wingers, defensemen, centers, goalie. We’re happy with the breadth of players.”
Mark Kelley, the team’s director of scouting, echoed those sentiments.
“We’re very happy,” he said. “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.”
Highlighting Saturday’s selections were left wing Beau Starrett of South Shore, who was taken 88th overall; and defenseman Luc Snuggerud out of Omaha, who was selected with the 141st overall pick. Both will be heading to college — Starrett heads to Cornell while Snuggerud goes to Nebraska-Omaha.
Starrett said he’s not putting himself on a timeline to make the NHL.
[RELATED: Salary cap could force Blackhawks to part ways with players]
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint, for someone like me,” he said. “I’ve got to work hard (at college), get bigger, faster and stronger to get to the next level. I’ll cross that (NHL) bridge when we get there.”
Snuggerud is a graduate of Eden Prairie High School, which Blackhawks defenseman Nick Leddy also attended — Snuggerud said he’s friends with Leddy’s younger brother. Snuggerud, whose uncle Dave played for the 1988 U.S. Olympic hockey team and also in the NHL, said he also hopes to develop his game in college.
“I need to gain strength for sure, learn how to play defensive hockey against older, stronger players,” he said. “I want to get a couple of good years under my belt.”
No. 20: Nick Schmaltz, C, Green Bay (USHL)
No. 83: Matheson Iacopelli, RW, Muskegon (USHL)
No. 88: Beau Starrett, LW, South Shore (USPHL)
No. 98: Frederik Olofsson, LW, Chicago (USHL)
No. 141: Luc Snuggerud, D, Omaha (USHL)
No. 148: Andreas Soderberg, D, Skelleftea Jr. (SWE)
No. 178: Dylan Sikura, C, Aurora (OJHL)
No. 179: Ivan Nalimov, G, St. Petersburg 2 (RUS)
No. 208: Jack Ramsey, RW, Penticton (BCHL)