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Hawks have options in upcoming NHL draft
By Tim Sassone | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 6/18/2008 12:07 AM

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Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon arrived in Ottawa on Tuesday ready for anything.

The Hawks own the 11th pick in the first round of Friday's draft, but there are no guarantees they will keep it. Tallon said he has "talked casually" about making a trade to either move up or down in the first round.

"This draft doesn't have a star after No. 1, but 2 through 20 are pretty close," Tallon said. "If we keep the pick, we're still going to get a top player. It's a really good, deep draft."

Sarnia center Steve Stamkos is the slam-dunk No. 1 pick and will go to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Anything can happen after that, although Guelph defenseman Drew Doughty ranks a solid second among scouts, and the Los Angeles Kings have the second pick.

According to Tallon, he and his staff have identified four forwards and four defensemen who could be available with the 11th pick.

Tallon denied he is looking to fill a particular need, but it's likely the Hawks would prefer a defenseman since most of the organization's top prospects are forwards.

Among the defensemen clearly on the Hawks' radar are Kelowna's Luke Schenn and Tyler Myers, Regina's Colten Teubert, Oshawa's Michael Del Zotto and Brandon's Colby Robak.

Teubert is considered a defensive defenseman with a mean streak, which the Hawks like. Myers, at 6-feet-7, is an interesting prospect and has scouts who love him and those who believe he is a huge risk.

It's entirely possible that the player who interests the Hawks most is Everett center Kyle Beach, who could be one of the biggest stories of the first round.

Beach is 6-3, 203 pounds and had 27 goals, 33 assists and 222 penalty minutes in 60 Western Hockey League games last season.

Beach has anger issues, according to some scouting services, which is why he is ranked 13th by the International Scouting Service even though some scouts believe he might be the biggest talent in the draft.

"He has as much skill as anybody, and he's as tough as nails," one scout told The Hockey News. "He can snap sometimes, and that can be a good thing and a bad thing."

Beach has been compared to New York Rangers bad boy Sean Avery, who has developed into one of the NHL's most effective players.

Tallon smiled when asked about Beach, which usually is a good sign that a player interests him.

"He's a little different and he's volatile and he's got a temper and (ticks) people off," Tallon said. "That's not a bad thing to have."

The Hawks certainly aren't afraid to gamble on a draft pick, having taken winger Akim Aliu in the second round last June when many teams shied away from him because of issues off the ice.

"Now we're getting into a better position where we can be a little choosier and not take the safe pick," Tallon said. "We do have some assets, and we can take some risks now. If it's a piece we don't feel we have in the puzzle, we might jump up and do something.

"We've had to take the safe, solid picks the last four or five years to rebuild and make sure we didn't make any mistakes, but now were getting deep enough with prospects in our minor-league system that we can take a risk on somebody if he can really help us."