The only other time the Chicago Blackhawks had the No. 1 pick, they landed Patrick Kane. A look back at the 2007 NHL draft.

Patrick Kane was one of the greatest Chicago Blackhawks players in franchise history.

Yet his selection with the No. 1 pick in the 2007 NHL draft was met with skepticism based on his height — a debate quashed by the young winger during his rookie season.

As the Blackhawks ponder what to do with their second first pick in this week’s NHL draft, here’s a look at how Kane’s selection affected almost two decades of hockey.

How did the Blackhawks’ 2006-07 season go?

The Blackhawks finished last in the Central Division with a 31-42-9 record. The season was plagued by injuries, disappointing free agents, a schedule that took the team on the road for 20 of its first 30 games and declining interest from fans, who averaged fewer than 14,000 per home game at the United Center. What did they have to cheer for anyway? The Hawks made it to the postseason once in the prior decade.

Rookie coach Trent Yawney — who had been drafted by the Blackhawks in 1984 and then served briefly as an assistant coach — was hired on July 7, 2005, to replace Brian Sutter. Yawney was chosen for his success in working with young players as coach of the team’s AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, but his tenure began with reports of a “rocky” relationship with senior vice president Bob Pulford and ended just 103 games later with his firing on Nov. 27, 2006.

Yawney’s replacement was longtime assistant Denis Savard. The Blackhawks struggled with blown leads under Savard — including the final game of the season, a 3-2 loss to the Dallas Stars.

“That sums up our year,” he said. “The power play did not get the job done.”

There was one reason to be optimistic — the Hawks signed 19-year-old former North Dakota star Jonathan Toews on May 16, 2007. Like Savard in 1980, Toews had been the team’s third pick in the 2006 amateur draft.

How did the Blackhawks get the top pick?

They won the lottery — the NHL draft lottery. Instead of picking fifth, as the standings dictated, they garnered the first selection for the first time in franchise history. The Hawks had just an 8.1% chance of getting the first pick. The highest the team picked previously was third (four times).

“I would imagine we’ll get a lot of phone calls. We’ll see. We might be able to use it for something else.” Hawks general manager Dale Tallon said at the time. “Despite all the travails the last couple of seasons, this is a big break for us.”

Who were the top prospects?

Unlike previous drafts that produced 2005 top pick Sidney Crosby or 2004 top pick Alexander Ovechkin, there was no consensus for the top pick in 2007. The Tribune, however, suggested this pick could set the tone for the team’s next decade.

“For a team starving for attention, ideally they would take someone who can step right into the lineup in October and join Jonathan Toews in attempting to receive the franchise’s long slide,” Tribune reporter Bob Foltman wrote in May 2007.

Some options for the Blackhawks included International Scouting Service’s top-ranked player Jakub Voracek, a Czech-born center who was then playing junior hockey for Halifax, Canadian Kyle Turris, 17, and James van Riemsdyk, then playing for the U.S. under-18 program.

Buffalo, N.Y., native Pat Kane, as the Tribune referred to him, had 62 goals and 145 points in 58 games for the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League despite being just 5-10 and 160 pounds. The 18-year-old winger was named OHL rookie of the year.

“He has terrific vision, great hands and is a great playmaker and passer for his size,” Tallon said about Kane.

What was the lead-up to the 2007 NHL draft like for the Hawks?

The Hawks interviewed Kane, Turris and van Riemsdyk several times in the weeks leading up to the June 22, 2007, draft in Columbus, Ohio.

Of the three, only Kane said publicly that he wanted to play in the NHL next season — Turris and van Riemsdyk wanted to play college hockey.

“The balance shifts because of a lot of issues,” Tallon said of determining the choice.

What happened on June 22, 2007?

The Blackhawks selected Kane with the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft. Van Riemsdyk was chosen second by the Philadelphia Flyers, making it the first time the top two selections were U.S.-born players.

“It’s unbelievable if you look at players who have gone No. 1,” Kane said. “(Vincent) Lecavalier, (Sidney) Crosby, (Alexander) Ovechkin all went No. 1, and they seem to be taking over the league.”

Just hours before making the selection, Tallon cleared some payroll and picked up two young players by trading the team’s captain and often-injured veteran defenseman Adrian Aucoin to the Calgary Flames.

Tallon and the Hawks front office hoped that Kane’s selection — “a historic pick,” as he called it — would become the future of the franchise sooner rather than later.

“We’re going to be a young team so he will get every opportunity to play,” Tallon said after choosing Kane. “We’ll put him with good players and see what happens.”

What did Kane say when he was introduced in Chicago?

Wearing a red Blackhawks sweater with No. 88 — for the year he was born — at the United Center for the first time, Kane told reporters at his introductory news conference that his goal was to work hard during prospects camp to make the team and show why he was the No. 1 pick.

“There’s obviously some pressure,” he said. “I thrive under pressure. When the game’s on the line, I love to be out there. With the pressure here, hopefully I can evolve into a better player.”

Yet his tone was optimistic.

“I’m looking forward to our Cup runs in the future,” Kane said.

How much was Kane’s first contract worth?

Kane signed a three-year, $11 million contract with an $875,000 annual salary-cap hit on July 25, 2007.

“We’re excited about his future and our future,” Tallon said. “We want him to help us get back on top.”

How did Kane’s first season go?

Kane appeared in his first NHL game on Oct. 4, 2007, in a 1-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild.

Two days later, he scored his first NHL goal in a shootout against future Hall of Fame goaltender Dominik Hasek — who Kane grew up watching when he was on the Sabres — to rally past the Detroit Red Wings 4-3. He also registered his first NHL point in a secondary assist on a second-period goal by Tuomo Ruutu.

Fittingly, he also scored the Hawks’ last goal of the 2007-08 season against Hasek on April 6, 2008, in Detroit — while wearing the “A” for alternate captain on his jersey for the first time.

In all, Kane scored 21 goals and had 51 assists and picked up an NHL-rookie-leading 72 points during his first season. He and Toews — who had 24 goals and 30 assists — distinguished themselves as cornerstones for the future of a team that finished with 88 points, just three back of the Western Conference playoffs.

Kane said one accomplishment was “playing 82 games to kind of prove the critics wrong that I’m not too small for the league.”

He was awarded the Calder Trophy on June 12, 2008, becoming the eighth Blackhawk to be honored as the league’s rookie of the year and the first since goaltender Ed Belfour in 1991.

How long did Kane stay with the Blackhawks?

Chicago watched Kane grow from a cocky 19-year-old to a weathered 34-year-old veteran — with plenty of personal and professional highs and lows in between.

He was scratched from a game on Feb. 25, 2023, in San Jose, Calif., and flew back to Chicago, fueling trade rumors. Three days later, Kane was traded to the New York Rangers. The Hawks acquired a 2023 conditional second-round draft pick and more.

“This has been an emotional time for me and my family, but I feel this decision puts me in the best spot to immediately win another Stanley Cup,” Kane said in a statement through the Hawks. “This isn’t about me leaving the Blackhawks, but this is an opportunity for me — the Blackhawks did everything they could to put me in a great position and I will forever be grateful.

Though the Hawks haven’t made the playoffs since the 2019-20 season, the departure of Kane — and Toews in April 2023 — symbolically ended the 2010s Stanley Cup era.

The Hawks finished 26-49-7, third from last in the league.

What are his notable accolades?

During his almost 16-year tenure with the Blackhawks, Kane won three Stanley Cups. Kane’s 1,225 points, 1,161 games and 67 game-winning goals rank second, third and fourth in franchise history, respectively.

Other recognitions include:

  • Olympic appearances in 2010 (silver) and 2014

  • 2013 Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP)

  • 2015-16 Hart Trophy (regular-season MVP), the first U.S.-born player to win it

  • 2015-16 Art Ross Trophy (points leader)

  • Nine All-Star games

Kane’s legend with the Blackhawks includes his famous “phantom goal,” the sharp-angle shot that sneaked under Philadelphia Flyers goalie Michael Leighton’s legs and into the side of the net to secure a 4-3 overtime win in Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final, clinching the first of three Hawks championships in a six-year span.

An panel named it the “Goal of the Decade.”

Sources: Tribune archives and reporting; NHL