Hawks like Seabrook's Character, Leadership

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Byline: Tim Sassone Daily Herald Sports Writer

Moments after Lethbridge defenseman Brent Seabrook was drafted 14th overall in the first round by the Blackhawks on Saturday, he was already anxious to meet coach Brian Sutter.

"I'm looking forward to meeting him and letting him yell at me a couple times," Seabrook joked.

Seabrook no doubt can take it. His character and leadership abilities were key reasons why the Hawks surprised some draft experts and selected the 6-foot-3, 220-pound defenseman as high as they did.

The team captain at Lethbridge as well as with Canada's under-18 national club, the 18-year-old Seabrook was rated the sixth-highest defenseman in the draft and the 25th-ranked North American skater by the NHL's Central Scouting Bureau.

But Hawks general manager Mike Smith and his scouts had Seabrook rated the fourth-best defenseman available and went for him after the first three blue liners on their list - Ryan Suter, Braydon Coburn and Dion Phaneuf - were taken at 7-8-9 by Nashville, Atlanta and Calgary, respectively.

"We were hoping to get one of the top four defensemen in the draft," Smith said. "He's a good, solid defensive defenseman. We're trying to rebuild our defense here so he's the type of player we need.

"Every team he has been on, he has been part of the leadership group. I see three outstanding qualities: his size, his leadership and his defensive play."

Smith had hoped to trade his first-round pick on the draft floor for a veteran defenseman but pulled back on that plan to select Seabrook.

"We had two offers on the table and we were waiting to see who was there at our pick," Smith said. "There was a pretty good chance that if Seabrook wasn't there we would have traded the pick. We were debating if we should take one of those offers or keep our pick, and because Seabrook was still there we kept our pick."

The Hawks chose Seabrook even though forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Zach Parise were still available. Getzlaf was the fifth-ranked North American skater and Parise the ninth. Parise wound up going 17th to New Jersey and Getzlaf 19th to Anaheim.

Smith said there were no discussions at the table of taking either forward. …