Blackhawks select Skille seventh overall

Incoming University of Wisconsin freshman win becomes sixth first-round choice in school history

Jack Skille, an incoming freshman for the University of Wisconsin hockey team, was selected by the Chicago Blackhawks with the seventh overall pick in the NHL Entry Draft Saturday.

Skille, a 6-foot-1, 200-pound winger, tallied 37 points (15 goals and 22 assists) in 42 games for the U.S. National Team Development Program U-18 squad in the 2004-05 season.

Skille is the sixth UW player ever taken in the first round of the NHL Draft. The highest was Dany Heatley, the second overall choice of the Atlanta Thrashers in 2000. Skille tied fellow Madison, Wis., native Ryan Suter as the second-highest Badger selection in history. Suter was taken seventh overall in 2003 by the Nashville Predators.

The Chicago Blackhawks have taken a liking to UW players in recent years. Former Badger Rene Bourque is considered one of Chicago's top prospects and the Blackhawks own the draft rights to current Badger forwards Adam Burish, Jake Dowell and Matt Ford.

In addition to Heatley, Suter and Skille, three other Badgers have been taken in the first round: Mike Blaisdell, 11th overall to the Detroit Red Wings in 1980; Pat Flatley, 21st to the New York Islanders in '82; and Dave Tanabe, 16th to the Carolina Hurricanes in '99.

Skille became part of history Saturday as one of eight American-born players drafted in the first round. The mark broke the record of seven set in 2003 and in 1986.

Another future Badger was selected Saturday: 6-2, 195-pound winger Zach Bearson, a UW commitment for the 2006-07 season. The Florida Panthers chose Bearson in the seventh round, with the 224th overall selection. In 51 games with the United States Hockey League's Waterloo Black Hawks last year, Bearson had 36 points (18 goals and 18 assists).

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