Chicago Blackhawks: Vasili Podkolzin a strong option at No. 3

(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images) /

The Chicago Blackhawks are in a nice spot at third overall and it is important that they make the right selection with that pick.

The Chicago Blackhawks are going to make the third overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft. It was incredibly lucky to be picking third after winning the third spot in the lottery after finishing as the 12th worst team in the NHL. You don’t see that high of a jump in the lottery very often, so the Blackhawks need to take full advantage.

There is an intriguing option for them at third overall. That would be Russian right wing Vasili Podkolzin. He is ranked at number three on a lot of people’s draft boards, but there is a risk with taking him. He plays for SKA St. Petersburg of the Kontinental Hockey League, and that alone is a risk of him deciding not to leave home to come over and play in the NHL. The KHL and SKA specifically pay its players handsomely and it can be hard to convince guys to leave to play in the NHL.

If this wasn’t an issue and just based on talent and impact he would almost certainly go third overall. He is a very good player and could end up being the third best player to come out of the draft behind Jack Hughes and Kaapo Kakko. It would be a travesty for him to be drafted in the top five and never come over to North America, but it is possible.

His skill might see him drafted that high, however. He has represented Russia in the World Juniors and in the u-18 World Championships and put up good numbers. He can play against men and there is a possibility that if he wanted to play in the NHL in 2019-20 he could make a roster. It isn’t absolutely guaranteed but the incentive to get him in the NHL might be something a team is willing to risk.

As far as his potential spot in the Blackhawks lineup, he would be great in a second line right wing spot. The top line featuring Jonathan Toews at center and Patrick Kane at right wing might have their left wing auditions in training camp. Podkolzin might fit in really nicely on the second line right wing with Dylan Strome in the middle and Alex DeBrincat on the left.

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If the Blackhawks are convinced in pre-draft conversation that he will make the transition over to North America, then they might really consider him at three. He can become a top-six forward for them and with the right linemates, he would really be able to produce.