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Blackhawks: Behind the Scenes of a Memorable Auction

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In terms of amateur recruiting, the Chicago Blackhawks have gone from an unenviable situation to a favorable position on the draft floor in Montreal, to the chagrin of fans who mourned the starts of Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach, both swapped on Thursday.

An old proverb says that you can’t make an omelette without breaking some eggs. And the “Hawks” top management will have to walk on the bullets that broke for several years after swapping a 24-year-old voice actor with 41 goals and a promising midfielder.

These unpopular exchanges still allowed the Blackhawks to get three picks in the first round, after not having had any on the morning of the session. Like the frenzied spectators in the stands of Bell Center on kick-off night, National Recruiting Manager for Quebec and Ontario, Alex Rouleau, experienced his part of a roller coaster in 48 hours.

“It is one of my best repechage in life,” he said immediately during an interview with TVASports.ca.

His future 12-year-old son, Samuel, was by his side on stage to welcome attacking defender Kevin Korchinski with the seventh overall selection – sold by the Ottawa Senators in exchange for their new star DeBrincat – as well as forward Frank Nazar, then full-back Sam Rinzel at the 25th bracket.

Photo credit: Blackhawks National Amateur Scout Alex Rouleau and his son Samuel.

No smoke without fire

A few hours earlier, Rouleau and the recruiting team had received an order from the hotel management.

“We were told to prepare, that transactions could happen and that we could have more choices, he says. We had prepared ourselves for all possibilities. We had a good idea that the big names could leave Chicago. It was no longer a secret in the end.

“Then he started going out on social media. There is no smoke without fire “.

Rouleau, a former Val-d’Or Foreurs defender enlisted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2001, was active in recruiting DeBrincat and also Dach when the organization enlisted them in 2016 and 2019, respectively.

This is one of the thankless realities of the young talent scouting profession.

“I lived (the transactions) in a somewhat divided way, because I still participated in the recruitment of DeBrincat, then of Dach. When you see that the players you have signed are traded, you are always shocked.

“But we have been given new choices, so these are new possibilities. In Alex’s case, she’s a former second-round pick that she paid for us. It means we did a good job with him. It is the task of the DG afterwards. From there, we board the boat “.

Then, with the second selection secured by the Senators, the team took center stage Paul Ludwinski, a teammate of Shane Wright’s Kingston Frontenacs, early in the second round, which he describes as an extremely versatile candle.

“When I went to see Kingston this year, you couldn’t help but notice it,” insists Rouleau. He moves his feet well and is always in the thick of the action. Some nights, when Wright’s line was quieter, they could transfer him to the wing in one of their front lines.

Samuel Savoie: a longtime love

In the next round, the Blackhawks mimicked the Anaheim Ducks by drawing on the Gatineau Olympiques.

After Noah Warren (42nd) and Tristan Luneau (53rd), New Brunswick forward Samuel Savoie became Louis Robitaille’s third protege to receive an NHL jersey. Like his teammates, Acadian’s left winger was among the four players chosen by Olympiques at the 2020 QMJHL auction.

Blackhawks recruiting director Mike Doneghey described him as a “ball of energy” during his review of the vintage Friday afternoon. Savoie himself compares his playing style to that of Brad Marchand and Sam Bennett, who can’t hurt him in a team interview to score points.

Photo credit: Joël Lemay / QMI Agency

Rouleau says he has been spying on him for a long time, since the Outaouais region – including Ottawa – is on its way when he begins or ends his travels. He illustrates the point of him proclaiming himself “the only recruiter in the world who lives in Abitibi”.

“What you hear is what we like,” he notes. Whenever we see him play, he has the energy on the floor. He is very active and not afraid to go online. Needs to fun and wants to make a difference. These are qualities that attract us.

“Doneghey made the trip to see him play in Gatineau, as the city is conveniently located on reconnaissance trips to observe. Our superiors had come to see him play, even the great one head at a certain time. Brian Campbell (Special Operations Advisor) was present, very close to management.

There is a lot to win over to fans in the comparison game, but Scouts prefer to play it safe when asked to compare a potential client to an NHL skater.

“This is the hardest question to answer. It’s hard to compare, but if you look at the players chosen this year, it has a lot of similarities to the players at Frontenacs, he says referring to Ludwinski.

“The speed of the feet and its overall speed. It’s like a Swiss army knife. He can play many roles while bringing a spark. It will be there fun work with him, because he can give options regardless of who his coach is.

The Davidson-era plan

As in the case of Anaheim, the wind of change is blowing in the “city of the wind” and new GM Kyle Davidson has placed an order with his scouts.

It is no coincidence that they drafted 11 potential customers, including eight forwards, in the seven rounds.

“One course of action is quite clear considering our choices as a whole. The common trait is speed, she explains. Nazar is extremely fast. Ludwinski and Savoie skate with high speed.

“The common trait is easy to see. The new management wanted to focus on speed this year. “

Some experts have wondered if this drifting concession wouldn’t have to wait until vintage 2023 to hope for a higher auction. You must understand that the reconstruction is starting now.

“For all years, we have been looking for players for a year, watching them work, loving them and wanting to work with them if it’s good. in shape.

“Why wait another year, when we are in important years? Our CEO, his vision is to say “let’s cancel and start over”. This is what he did to start over as soon as possible.

Photo credit: AFP

As for Korchinski, the Blackhawks’ first pick, no decision has been made at the moment. He will report to the development camp on Monday.

“The plan is not to rush him. If the organization feels it is not ready, it will continue to learn. We give it time “.

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