With the 31st pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Level Draft, the Chicago Blackhawks have selected Nolan Allan from the Prince Albert Raiders of the Western Hockey League (WHL)
About Nolan Allan
As a big, gifted defenseman, there’s a lot to love about what Nolan Allan brings to the ice each night. While his offensive upside may not be the best in the draft, as he posted two points in 16 games in the WHL this season, his size and strength makes him a very appealing prospect.
Allan is a responsible defenseman in his own zone, as he doesn’t overextend to make a play. While his offensive instincts may be middling, every franchise needs a responsible player on their blue line who can lay down big hits and help to shut down opponents’ top lines.
THW Prospect Profile Excerpt
“Nolan Allan has flown under the radar for most of this season. His quickness, physicality, and defensive instincts make him an outstanding two-way defenseman. After a delay in the WHL’s 2020-21 season was announced (due to the COVID-19 pandemic), Allan found himself on the La Ronge Ice Wolves of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL), where he scored five points in five games before returning to the Prince Albert Raiders in March.
“Allan was coming off a moderate rookie season when he put up eight points in 58 games and was a plus-16. He made an impact as a rookie on the Raiders and found himself on the International stage playing for Team Canada Red at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
“The Raiders started their season in March for a short but sweet 25-game schedule. Allan played 16 games and recorded two points; his offensive abilities are mildly raw, which is why his point totals aren’t high. Instead, he is exceptionally reliable in his own end, often making big hits and choking out plays. All in all, his consistent game earned him a roster spot on Team Canada for the Under-18 World Hockey Championships in Frisco and Plano, Texas, this season.
“Throughout the tournament, Allan delivered bone-crushing hits and made solid defensive plays to shut down the opposition. During the gold medal game against Russia, Allan made the hit of the year when he ran over Russia’s captain, Nikita Chibrikov, sending him flying into the Canadian bench. Hits like that are momentum changers and Canada answered. He helped Canada defeat Russia 5-3 to capture the Gold for the first time since 2013, and his stock skyrocketed after that.”
How This Effects the Blackhawks’ Plans
In reality, Allan won’t have an immediate effect on the Blackhawks. He will be a long-term project who will take years to develop a full NHL-caliber toolkit and likely will never become an offensive force on the blue line.
However, this doesn’t mean that he won’t have a bright future in the NHL. It’s difficult to teach defensive instincts, after all, and with that already a strong part of his game, that’s a great foundation to build upon. So, while it won’t be easy, if Chicago takes their time and develops Allan’s toolkit, they could have a top-four defenseman in their prospect pool.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.