I’ll start with the 2003 draft as my honourable mention choice. In the 1st round the Blackhawks selected Brent Seabrook while Corey Crawford was nabbed in round two. Both players continue to be key contributors on a Chicago team that will be aiming for its 4th Stanley Cup title since 2010. While no longer with the team, the Hawks picked Dustin Byfuglien in the 8th round.
The best draft in team history is 1980. In the 1st round (3rd overall) Chicago selected Hall of Famer Denis Savard who was one of the most dynamic and offensively creative players during the era of high flying offense of the 1980’s. In the 3rd round, Troy Murray was drafted. Murray was a solid and I think underrated player throughout his career. A perennial contender for the Selke Award as the NHL’s best defensive forward he enjoyed an outstanding 1985-86 season with 99 points. Steve Larmer who would patrol the wing alongside Savard was selected in the 6th round. He was an extremely durable player who excelled at both ends of the ice and won the Calder Trophy as top rookie and a Stanley Cup with the Rangers. Jerome Dupont, Steve Ludzik, Carey Wilson and Dan Frawley were other notable players picked by the Blackhawks in the 1980 draft.
Instead of selecting one specific draft year as the worst in team history, I decided to focus on the years from 1992 to 2000 in which the Blackhawks failed miserably to draft any players of significance.
During this stretch which covered 9 entry drafts, Chicago drafted 27 players in the following rounds…
*total of 10 first round picks including 2 top 10 selections
*12 second round picks
*5 third round picks
Of those players the most noteworthy were Ethan Moreau and Dan Cleary. Needless to say, the core of championship teams are not going to be constructed under such dire drafting.
With the next pick…
The first round of the 1979 draft saw the selection of future hall of famers Michel Goulet and Mike Gartner along with several players who would enjoy productive careers such as Rob Ramage, Mike Foligno, Rick Vaive, Craig Hartsburg, Laurie Boschman, Tom McCarthy, Paul Reinhart, Brian Propp, Brad McCrimmon, Duane Sutter and Kevin Lowe.
With the 7th overall pick, Chicago took defenseman Keith Brown a steady if unspectacular player. Brown nonetheless was a dependable player who would enjoy a 16 year career. However, with the very next selection the Bruins drafted Ray Bourque.
Late Round Bargain:
With the 179th overall pick, Darryl Sutter was selected in the 11th round of the 1978 draft. Sutter has carved out an impressive coaching resume which includes a finals appearance with Calgary and two Stanley Cup titles with the Kings. But before embarking on his coaching career, Sutter enjoyed an 8 year playing career all with the Blackhawks where he served as team captain and registered 20+ goals on 5 occasions.
As discussed earlier the selection of Steve Larmer by the Blackhawks in the 6th round of the 1980 draft qualifies as the best shrewd pick in team history.