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We are less than three weeks away from the 2023 NHL Draft. This has shaped-up to be one of the deepest, front-loaded draft classes in a long time and could rival that of previous draft classes like 2003 or in 2015. At the top of the draft are the Chicago Blackhawks with the first overall selection and they will undoubtedly be taking the top-overall prospect for the past three years in this draft class, Connor Bedard. But that’s not the end-all, be-all for the Blackhawks in this year’s draft. The club has six picks in the first two rounds and nine picks in the first 100 selections, so as we approach draft week in Nashville, we’re taking a look at the players we on the CHGO Blackhawks crew think would fit the needs of the Blackhawks in their rebuilding efforts.
Today we look at Brandon Wheat Kings Captain Nate Danielson.
Nate Danielson Measurables
“Danielson checks every box you want in an NHL forward. He skates like an NHL player, he has great stick skills, he can set up and finish plays, he has good size and he wins battles. The pure stats this season don’t blow you away, but his teammates were lacking in quality. From a pure pro projection and in thinking about what he could be, he has all the tools and has shown a history of scoring when with better players. If he hits, you could get a star.” – Corey Pronman, The Athletic
“Danielson feels like a ‘safe’ pick. I’m not sure he’s more than a 45-50 point guy in the NHL, but he’s consistent and valuable enough at both ends of the ice that he’ll have a solid, young career. You won’t find a ton of 18-year-old captains, either.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff
“Danielson’s a pro-sized, hardworking pivot who can skate and excels in driving through the middle of the ice, pushing tempo and playing with energy. He plays a well-rounded two-way game, is a proficient penalty killer, wants to make a difference in all areas when he’s on the ice and blends good overall skill with his effort. While his game doesn’t have the dynamism of the other kids in this loaded WHL class, most scouts like the projectability of Danielson to the pro game.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
Why Nate Danielson would fit with the Blackhawks
The size, the skating, the compete level, the playmaking ability, it’s all there for a player like Danielson to eventually translate to not only a regular NHL player, but a solid contributor. As Corey Pronman mentioned above, when he listed Danielson as being the No. 6 player in the 2023 Draft Class when it comes to highest NHL potential, Danielson checks every box that you want in a prototypical NHL centerman. There’s not much to not like about what he brings to the table down the middle of the ice.
The Chicago Blackhawks need a forward, specifically a centerman, who fits the profile of Nate Danielson. Big, physical, skilled in the hands, and can skate at an NHL-caliber. When you look at the prospect depth at the center position already in Chicago’s system, there is plenty of future skill and playmakers in the bunch with Frank Nazar, Lukas Reichel, and presumably Connor Bedard. But the Blackhawks lack that desirable size and two-way prowess that Danielson brings. There’s a chance, if the Blackhawks end up selecting Danielson, he could eventually find himself as a high-contributing third-line center, or even a second-line center in Chicago with special teams responsibilities when the team is competitive again. He jumped on my radar late in the game when it came to looking at draft prospects that would/could fit the Blackhawks’ needs, but he has rocketed up my personal favorites list in the 2023 Draft Class.
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