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Chicago Blackhawks 2024 Draft: 50 Names to Know

Mario Tirabassi Avatar
May 3, 2024

It’s officially NHL Draft season! With the NHL season ending for the Chicago Blackhawks, the offseason begins with the build-up to the NHL Draft Lottery on May 7 and then the NHL Draft happening in Las Vegas on June 28 and 29.

Unlike this time last year, where the Blackhawks were desperate for a player like Connor Bedard in their organization and the “tank” was on for the generational talent, Chicago was built to try a bit harder to win games this season and the idea of “tanking” wasn’t as on the table as it previously was. But injuries and dismissals changed the complexion of the roster and the Blackhawks found themselves in the running for being the worst team in the NHL once again. The Blackhawks didn’t have the amount of players to move at the NHL trade deadline this past season, so going the fire sale route and trying to compete with the San Jose Sharks for the top odds in the NHL Draft Lottery were just out of reach.

Chicago finished 2022-23 with the third-best odds at winning the lottery and they did it. They finished the 2023-24 season with the second-best odds at winning the lottery (13.5%) and have a legitimate shot at becoming the first time to win back-to-back NHL Draft lotteries since the Florida Panthers in 2002 and 2003 and the first team to do it under the new format that doesn’t allow a team to win the lottery more than twice in a five-year span.

But as you’ll know if you’ve been paying attention to the rebuilding plan under GM Kyle Davidson, the blueprint is more than just the top pick that the Blackhawks have in a given draft. It comes down to what they’ll do with the other picks that could make or break the long-term plan. Last year, the Blackhawks walked away from the 2023 NHL Draft with 11 picks overall, seven in the first three rounds. Again this year, the Blackhawks have seven picks in the first three rounds with two coming in the first round, three coming in the second round, and two more coming in the third round, with another fifth round pick and sixth round pick also in the fold.

With just over two months until the Blackhawks make their first selection in the 2024 NHL Draft and add their latest crop (WHAT A CROP) of draft picks to an already bustling prospect system, here are 50 draft prospects to know who project to be within Chicago’s reach with their first seven draft picks.

Prospect projections based on composite rankings and information from:
NHL Central Scouting
Elite Prospects
Future Considerations
The Athletic – Scott Wheeler and Max Bultman
Dobber Prospects
Daily Faceoff

The names being listed are not listed in any particular order.

First Round

For the second year in-a-row, we will be sweating the NHL Draft Lottery as the Blackhawks finished the season 31st overall and have the second-best odds to land the top pick in the 2024 Draft. After moving up from third to first to select Connor Bedard last year, the anxiety about landing that first pick is a little less, but still it would be an accelerant to the rebuilding process to land another first-overall caliber player and add him to the organization.

Already having Bedard makes the result of the lottery a little easier to stomach, no matter where they land. By finishing second-to-last in the league, the Blackhawks are guaranteed to pick no later than fourth overall. With the depth of the talent at the top of the 2024 Draft Class, picking anywhere between first and fourth will land the Blackhawks a player that will make significant, near-immediate impacts on the club.

Macklin Celebrini – Center, Boston University (NCAA)
(6’0, 190lb / Shot: L / 38 GP – 32G, 32A, 64Pts)

  • A true No. 1 center option with comparisons to Jonathan Toews that certainly make Blackhawks fans salivate over the idea of winning back-to-back NHL Draft Lotteries and drafting their 1-2 punch down the middle of their lineup for the next 15+years. While the gap between Celebrini and the rest of the draft class isn’t as wide as it was for Bedard and the 2023 class, Celebrini is hands-down the top of the crop and a plug-and-play forward that would fit right in to the 2024 Chicago lineup. That is, if he decides to turn pro right away.

Watch Highlights

“He’s a power-center. He’s got good speed. He’s got great hands. He’s got the heavy great shot. He’s physical. He’s good defensively and can chase guys back on the back-check and strip them and turn it back in transition the other way. I don’t know if he’s ever going to be a ‘superstar,’ like a guy who is going to regularly push 100+ points. But I think he’s going to be a sure-fire, No. 1 center that a team can put him there and expect him to play that role within a year or two.” – Cam Robinson, Elite Prospects

Boston University forward Macklin Celebrini (71) skates with the puck during the Boston University-Notre Dame NCAA hockey game on Saturday, October 21, 2023, at Compton Family Ice Arena in South Bend, Indiana. John Mersits / USA TODAY NETWORK

Artyom Levshunov – Defenseman, Michigan State (NCAA)
(6’2, 210lb / Shot: R / 38 GP – 9G, 26A, 35Pts)

  • Big, rangy, and a force at both ends of the ice, the Blackhawks could select their future No. 1 defenseman if they are to not win the top-overall selection in the draft. Levshunov has the size and the tools that could make a potential pairing between him and Alex Vlasic in the next few years a dream pairing on the Blackhawks’ blue-line.

Watch Highlights

“Levshunov’s profile checks a lot of the boxes that teams are looking for in a high-end defenseman. He’s a righty with an extremely imposing and physically mature build already. He’s a smooth skater with plus-level four-way mobility. Though he was a little green defensively when he arrived in the USHL, he has made fast progress and has really figured it out over the last two years. His ceiling defensively is sky-high with the right development…He already possessed all of the tools he needed to become a stud, and he just keeps getting better and better. The decision-making is a little raw, but he’s very much still learning it, and the raw tools are incredibly appealing. With continued fine-tuning, I believe there’s first-pairing upside there. I was very high on him coming into this season, and he still exceeded my expectations. The Spartans have won his 22-23 minutes a game handily most nights. He’s a force.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Ivan Demidov – Right Wing, SKA-1946 St. Petersburg (MHL)
(5’11, 180lb / Shot: L / 30 GP – 23G, 37A, 60Pts)

  • If it’s not the No. 1 pick and the Blackhawks feel they are comfortable at the top of their defensive prospect pool, Demidov is the next best option at forward behind Celebrini and he has closed that gap with his play to end his season in Russia by scoring 11 goals and 28 points in 17 MHL playoff games. Sure, he has a two-year contract to play out in the KHL, but most top prospects take two-to-three years before hitting the NHL anyway, so it’s essentially a wash on the timeline.

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“A tantalizing prospect with skill and creativity in his game, Demidov is currently scoring at a rate of more than two points per game, surpassing Nikita Kucherov and Matvei Michkov by a significant margin at the same age. After being injured earlier this season, he’s been on an absolute tear and has been held off the score sheet in just one game so far since coming back. He only seems to be getting better. Demidov is a confident puck carrier who can find multiple ways around defenses and is dangerous shooting from anywhere. Despite not having the biggest frame, he’s sturdy and is hard to knock off the puck. There’s some power in his game and a willingness to take pucks inside for better scoring opportunities. The offensive instincts and competitiveness on or off the puck make him a tough player to play against.” – Chris Peters, Flo Hockey

Anton Silayev – Defenseman, Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo (KHL)
(6’7″, 215lb / Shot: L / 63 GP – 3G, 8A, 11 Pts)

  • The name of the game in the NHL when it comes to a blue-line core group is length. The Blackhawks have been building that in their defensive prospect pool with defensemen like Alex Vlasic, Nolan Allan, Kevin Korchinski, Ethan Del Mastro, and Sam Rinzel in the past few years. Adding the size and raw tools of a player like Silayev continues that trend of getting more range defensively and another lock-down style player into the organization.

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“I truly believe Silayev is the best actual defender of the top three, but the other two (Artyom Levshunov and Sam Dickinson) just offer more that gets me – and many scouts – excited. The 6-foot-7 blueliner averaged just under 20 minutes a night while blocking shots, landing hits and showing off great skating for his size. There aren’t a whole lot of big defenders that can skate as well as Silayev does and the upside can’t be ignored.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Cayden Lindstrom – Center, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
(6’3″, 210lb / Shot: L / 32 GP – 27G, 19A, 46Pts)

  • If you wanted to build a No. 1 center in a lab, you’d come away with Cayden Lindstrom. Size, skating, skill, scoring. He has it all. An unfortunate injury cut his WHL season short and he came back to Medicine Hat in time for the WHL Playoffs, but that too was cut short of expectations. Still, in the sample-size of a year that he had, he made his mark enough to believe in the skillset he possesses.

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“He has all the tools you want in a center and a high-end forward. The size, the speed, he can dangle, he can shoot, and he can make passes. He’s very inside-driven and physical too…He’s figuring-out the creativity part of his game and he’s a giant scoring threat near the net or from distance. There’s not much missing in his toolkit. His ‘hockey sense’ maybe is not ‘elite,’ but it’s still high-end anyway, so with that package, the game is going to be easier for him anyway.” – David St-Louis, Elite Prospects

Zayne Parekh – Defenseman, Saginaw Spirit (OHL)
(6’0″, 180lb / Shot: R / 66 GP – 33G, 63A, 96Pts)

  • Offense from the blue-line is never a bad thing. Putting up 30+ goals in the OHL, as a defenseman, is damn impressive and Parekh has continued that into the OHL postseason with (at the time of this writing) 10 points in 10 games. Much like Korchinksi coming out of the 2022 NHL Draft, Parekh will take time to develop his defensive game, but the offensive upside is staggering.

Watch Highlights

“Among the top five scorers in the OHL from the back end, Parekh has surpassed 20 goals in each of his two seasons with Saginaw. He is an expert in reading and jumping into plays to make himself a dangerous option in the offensive zone. He can extend plays at the offensive blue-line with good hands and footwork. His instincts with the puck on his stick are at an especially high level. While Parekh’s defensive game has a ways to go to be trusted at the next level, his puck game is going to be a weapon. As defensemen continue to evolve in how they play the game, Parekh’s ability to score and to make plays is going to help the team that selects him win games. He likely would not command major minutes at the next level, but he projects as a top-four blueliner with elite power play potential.” – Chris Peters, Flo Hockey

Berkly Catton – Center, Spokane Chiefs (WHL)
(5’11”, 170lb / Shot: L / 68 GP – 64G, 52A, 116Pts)

  • Catton finished fourth in the WHL in scoring this season but was the only player in the top-five that wasn’t already drafted. While his size down the middle is not entirely ideal, especially for a Blackhawks prospect pool at the position that lacks the high-end skill players who have “desired NHL size,” one cannot ignore the production and scoring ability that he showed this season while helping carry the load on his WHL club.

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“Catton, like the rest of Spokane, had a quiet playoff exit, losing in four straight games to Prince George. Catton failed to score and had just four assists, but it can’t be understated just how good he was down the stretch. Over his last 15 games – regular season and playoffs – Catton had 11 goals and 27 points to help him finish with 116 on the season. No NHL Draft prospect outscored him this year at any level, with his 54 goals trailing just Anthony Romani out of the OHL. Catton is expected to join Canada for a second stab at the U-18 World Championship, where he’ll be counted on as a leader just like he was when he went on an absolute tear at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup last spring. I’m a huge fan.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Sam Dickinson – Defenseman, London Knights (OHL)
(6’3″, 205lb / Shot: L / 68 GP – 18G, 52A, 70Pts)

  • Dickinson reminds me a lot of another London Knights defenseman that was drafted a half-dozen years ago that had similar measurables, a similar play-style, and similarly was said to be a “safe” pick since he was already so far down his development path by his draft year: Evan Bouchard. The maturity in Dickinson’s game is ideal for a player who would likely be one season away from jumping to the professional game. He’s well-rounded and has that “desirable NHL size.” While it may seem like a “reach” if the Blackhawks were to pick him with any of potential picks 2, 3, or 4, Dickinson feels like the easier call among almost every defenseman to say he will make it at the NHL level.

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“Dickinson is a very complete, projectable top-four defenceman who has size, high-end skating and a developing offensive game that has really rounded into form this season. Last year, he stepped right onto the Knights blue line at 16 (rare) and played bigger minutes by year’s end than some drafted guys (rarer) on a deep blue line, including in key situations in the playoffs. This season, he has played a leading role in all facets of the game on another strong London team…He plays firm and with confidence in who he is and what makes his game so successful. He defends at a very high level for his age both man-to-man, down low and positionally in his own zone. He has skill and poise with the puck and has started to make better and more consistent reads under pressure. He’s not the most dynamic player with the puck, but he has all of the physical tools you look for, he can really shoot it, he comfortably moves it, he has a high floor, and he could have a very high ceiling (at both ends) with continued development along the path he’s on.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Zeev Buium – Defenseman, University of Denver (NCAA)
(6’0″, 180lb / Shot: L / 42 GP – 11G, 39A, 50Pts)

  • Dynamic offense from the blue-line is something the Blackhawks could use in their prospect pool. Another player to add to the top of the defenseman group like Korchinski and Rinzel. They have sizable, more defensively-minded guys in the system already and adding Buium could be adding another complimentary piece to those more “stay-at-home” style defensemen.

Watch Highlights

“A dynamic, offensive defenseman putting up historic numbers as a draft-eligible freshman at Denver, Buium has been on the rise throughout the season. Buium has high-end hands, good feet and can make a lot of plays in the offensive zone. While he lacks physical strength to keep opposing forwards at bay, he’s competitive and has a good stick. Buium is a play-driver from the back end, allowing his teammates to find spaces for him to distribute the puck to. He can extend plays and filters a lot of pucks toward the net front. Defensively, there are still some questions, but Buium has shown a commitment to defend and to compete in his own zone, and he’s able to get pucks out of trouble in a hurry with his feet or with a good pass. At times his puck decisions need to be better and he is not immune to the big turnover. That said, he has the puck so much that you live with the mistake because more times he’s going to make a positive play.” – Chris Peters, Flo Hockey

Apr 11, 2024; Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA; Denver defenseman Zeev Buium (28) carries the puck in the semifinals of the 2024 Frozen Four college ice hockey tournament during the first period against Boston U at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports

Cole Eiserman – Left Wing, U.S. National Team Development Program
(6’0″, 200lb / Shot: L / 77 GP – 80G, 39A, 119Pts)

  • Connor Bedard needs someone who can finish plays alongside him. The Blackhawks need someone who is going to shoot the puck, have the killer goal-scoring instinct, and has the ability to score goals in a multitude of ways. Cole Eiserman can do all those things. He has the potential to be a 40+, maybe even a 50-goal scorer in the NHL if he reaches is offensive ceiling. But, can he do anything else besides score goals?

Watch Highlights

“You’ve heard it all by now. There isn’t a prospect with a better shot in the draft, and will go down as one of the best goal-scorers in USA Hockey National Team Development history – a group that has had Cole Caufield, Auston Matthews, Jack Eichel, Matt Tkachuk and Patrick Kane among others. Defensively, Eiserman can be invisible, though. Eiserman is a better physical threat and a skater than I think most people give him credit for. Defensively, he needs work, but he’s got first-line winger written all over him. Underestimate him at your peril.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

For the second year in-a-row, the Blackhawks will have two draft picks in the first round thanks to the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Brandon Hagel trade back in the Spring of 2022. Almost exactly like last year’s second first-round pick from the Lightning, which ended up being Oliver Moore at 19th overall, the Blackhawks will have the 20th pick in this year’s first round thanks to the Florida Panthers eliminating the Lightning in the first-round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Similarly to the first pick the Blackhawks make in the first round, they are in a position where they will be best suited to pick the best player they have available on their internal draft board, rather than making any picks based on filling a need. Chicago is just not quite there yet where they don’t have any holes in their organizational depth chart. So whether it’s a scoring winger, two-way center, dight-shot defenseman, so on and so forth, the Blackhawks are likely looking at taking whoever will help them anywhere within the organization and fits the long-term plans.

Liam Greentree – Right Wing, Windsor Spitfires (OHL)
(6’3″, 210lb / Shot: L / 64 GP – 36G, 54A, 90Pts)

  • Something the Blackhawks are missing in their prospect system is a true, top-six power forward. Enter Liam Greentree. He has NHL desirable size that you cannot teach and a work-rate that you envy in players at his age and size. Kyle Davidson has stressed that being able to skate at the NHL level is a key factor for draft prospects and he hasn’t been shy about getting players that fit that mold. Greentree isn’t the strongest skater, but he game is not made or broken by his straight-line speed.

Watch Highlights

“The skating obviously is a bit of a problem, but he’s not going to require having any sort of speed advantage in the NHL. Guys get near him, that’s what he wants. You can catch up to him, he’s trying to do that. Then he hooks the puck through you, relocates and gets it back and snipes one. This guy has the best highlight reel in the draft. Every play, every point that he gets is insane…He’s a ‘Matt Boldy’ through and through.” – Mitchell Brown, Elite Prospects

Liam Greentree (66) of the Windsor Spitfires (Photo Courtesy: Charles Warburton/Mississauga Steelheads)

Michael Brandsegg-Nygård – Right Wing, Mora IK (SHL)
(6’1″, 200lb / Shot: R / 41 GP – 8G, 10A, 18Pts)

  • A high-level power forward, again, is something that the Blackhawks would benefit from having in their prospect system. Brandsegg-Nygård is a power forward coming up in the Norwegian hockey renaissance. He made a big impact during the World Junior Championships and played primarily in the professional ranks in Sweden (SHL) against Men as a draft-eligible player. While he might not be one of the top first-round prospects in the class, he might be one of the two or three NHL-ready players in the class based on his style of play and advanced skills as a work-ethic based player.

Watch Highlights

“He’s a multifaceted shooter who can score from the top of the circles with his wrister but also gets down to one knee and really powers through a good one-touch shot — skills that have helped him excel on both the flank and the bumper on the power play across domestic and international levels. He’s not a dynamic individual play creator but he’s got pro size, he works extremely hard and engages himself in the play, he plays well off of his linemates, and he’s got good all-around skill. He also plays the game with a physical tilt even against pros, constantly engaging in battles and keeping his effort level ramped up. He’s got a commitment to staying on pucks and finishing his checks, and uses a long stick to protect pucks well out wide to his body. He’s got good straight-line skating. He looks like a projectable middle-six driver to me, and potentially a solid top-sixer as the third guy on a more talented line with the right progress.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Andrew Basha – Left Wing, Medicine Hat Tigers (WHL)
(5’11”, 185lb / Shot: L / 63 GP – 30G, 55A, 85Pts)

  • If the Blackhawks want to continue their recent draft trend of finding forwards who can do a little bit of everything and be versatile in their future lineups, Basha is that type of player. He’s someone who can thrive in a scoring role and play a game more predicated to being a third-line Swiss Army knife. Hardly any downside to him, but not necessarily anything elite about him either.

Watch Highlights

“Basha had a tremendous year with Medicine Hat, picking up the slack while Cayden Lindstrom was injured. He finished the regular season with 30 goals and 85 points in 63 games, building upon a season that saw him post one of the best goal totals of any Draft-1 players in the CHL last year. He’s not going to blow you away in the NHL with his skill, but he brings good energy and is strong defensively. Between his 5-on-5 play, his experience on the power play and the playmaking he brings to the table, Basha could be a solid top-six contributor for an NHL team one day.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Carter Yakemchuk – Defenseman, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
(6’3″, 190lb / Shot: R / 66 GP – 30G, 41A, 71Pts)

  • I look at Yakemchuk as a Kevin Korchinski with more snarl to his game. Where Korchinski was more of a distributor in his Junior career offensively, Yakemchuk can find scoring lanes and attacks more than Chicago’s 2022 seventh-overall pick. Maybe having Korchinski and a Sam Rinzel already in the system makes the Blackhawks turn away from another offensively-minded defenseman in this selection range, but if not, Yakemchuk is the best option to likely be available.

Watch Highlights

“One of the highest-scoring and most penalized draft-eligible WHL defensemen in recent WHL history, Yakemchuk broke the 25-goal plateau and sailed past 100 penalty minutes with the Hitmen this year. That’s a year after he scored 19 goals on a middle-of-the-pack team and was the only 2024 draft-eligible to make one of the WHL’s All-Star teams when he was named a Central Division Second All-Star last season, which was important considering he was only a couple of weeks away from being eligible for the 2023 draft…Led by his instincts, plenty of confidence and legit skill for a D his size, he has generated a lot from the back end for a Hitmen team that has generated little. While his game in the WHL does come with some give and take, he’s got pro size, a pro shot and an attack mentality that is complemented by good instincts on when to eagerly jump off the line or into the rush and when to hold it or outlet it. He also protects the puck really well for a defenseman, which allows him to make the most of his decisions to involve himself in the play around the offensive zone, holding pucks past and away from reaching defenders and occasionally dazzling one-on-one.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Michael Hage – Center, Chicago Steel (USHL)
(6’1″, 190lb / Shot: R / 54 GP – 33G, 42A, 75Pts)

  • Another player who can be that middle-six or second-line option that can do a bit of everything. While not the biggest guy, he has that edge to his game where he can take and give a more physical-style of hockey while still being a productive player who plays with high-end pace. Hage is committed to Michigan starting in 2025-26.

Watch Highlights

“A powerful skater with a nose for the net, Hage can make plays off the rush and does a nice job of getting to the interior to create offense. His speed allows him to drive to the outside, but he always works to get pucks to the middle and battle to get to the higher-danger areas of the ice. After losing almost all of last season to injury, Hage’s development seemingly did not suffer. He’s become a stronger player who is difficult to slow down. He has a good stick, doesn’t shy away from the physical game and then has the hand skills to finish off what he starts. Hage has a quick release, with the ability to shoot in stride and make plays without breaking speed. Though he likes to play the game at a faster pace, he’s able to slow things down and find better options. His hockey sense and pace both look like strong NHL traits.” – Chris Peters, Flo Hockey

Igor Chernyshov – Left Wing, Dynamo Moskva (KHL)
(6’2″, 195lb / Shot: R / KHL: 34 GP – 3G, 1A, 4Pts MHL: 22 GP – 13G, 15A, 28Pts)

  • The size and skill combination at the forward position is tantalizing for the Blackhawks in this second first-round pick range. For a KHL prospect to play half of the season in the top Russian league as a professional against men in their draft year is an accomplishment. His numbers at the next level down in the MHL give you a lot to like about Chernyshov and make the roll of the dice worth it at this range.

Watch Highlights

“At 6-foot-2 and 192 pounds, Chernyshov has good size and isn’t afraid to use it. He played more than half the season in the KHL but was also a stout offensive threat in the MHL thanks to his slick stickhandling. For the most part, I like how he has matured this year. He doesn’t make as many poor decisions with and without the puck as he did last year. Chernyshov does a great job of working his tail off without the puck, something that’ll excite NHL coaches.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Adam Jiříček – Defenseman, HC Plzeň (Czechia)
(6’3″, 180lb / Shot: R / 19 GP – 0G, 1A, 1Pts)

  • He checks the boxes of being a stabilizing defenseman with desirable NHL size and is a right-shot defenseman. Injuries hampered his draft year, but there’s still a lot of raw skill to like in Jiříček to make him a favorable first-round pick.

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“At the beginning of the year, I thought he had a chance to become the best defenseman in this draft. The physicality, the engagement, the motor, the flashes of skill are still there in his game. He didn’t show them as much in the early part of the year. I think a team will select him in the first round and there’s a lot of upside there.” – David St-Louis, Elite Prospects

Second Round

There’s going to be some interesting selections between the 20th pick and the 34th pick for the Blackhawks as the first round closes and the second round opens. Depending on how the board shapes itself, there could be a handful of prior first-round projections available to Chicago when Round Two begins. You may see some movement with these range of picks if the Blackhawks feel strongly that they can move back to get their desired players, or if they want to be aggressive and move up into the first round again. But early-second round picks are valuable still. This is the range where players like Alex DeBrincat, Alex Vlasic, and Dave Bolland can be found.

E.J. Emery – Defenseman, U.S. National Team Development Program
(6’3″, 185lb / Shot: R / 84 GP – 19A, 19Pts)

  • Another right-shot, stabilizing defenseman with the desirable NHL size. The Blackhawks have been making it clear the length on the blue-line is important to them in their last four draft classes and Emery could add to that depth on the back-end. He’s committed to the University of North Dakota next season.

Watch Highlights

“Though Emery has had a tougher season to read based on results, the tools and upside he seems to possess are tantalizing. Emery has a 6-foot-3 frame that he’s still growing into, but moves effortlessly and has some power to him. Defensively, he’s tough to get around and can make good, physical stops thanks to solid gap control and angling ability. Offensively is where his projection is tougher to make. You can see some elements of hand skills and the ability to move pucks up ice, but his numbers have been poor in terms of production. Committed to the University of North Dakota, Emery is one of those players you take in this range and stay patient. He’s growing into his game and the immense athletic tools he has.” – Chris Peters, Flo Hockey

Tanner Howe – Center/Left Wing, Regina Pats (WHL)
(5’11”, 180lb / Shot: L / 68 GP – 28G, 49A, 77Pts)

  • Former teammate of Connor Bedard with the Regina Pats, Howe is a player who can play across the lineup, but is more likely suited for that third-line range as a guy who can battle defensively while also looking to contribute offensively at the NHL level. But in those types of players, for the Blackhawks, they have also been higher-end skaters, which Howe is not. Maybe a good word from Bedard in the scouting process influences the organization, but unlikely.

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“I don’t know what to think here anymore. Howe can clearly produce, with and without Connor Bedard, his most common linemate over the first two years of his junior career. Howe was a high-end scorer again this year, but his skating and smaller frame don’t help. Despite that, Howe battles for pucks and has the energy that can make him more valuable if he isn’t cast into a scoring role.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Luke Misa – Center, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
(5’10”, 165lb / Shot: L / 66 GP – 26G, 55A, 81Pts)

  • A heady player that uses his high-end speed and hands to his advantage to create offense. I like Misa a lot, but my only concern would be if he could continue to find that nerve for playing between the dots at the professional level.

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“He wins races and can create with his feet, regularly beating his man wide and getting a step on defenders for partial breaks. He’s not the biggest kid, and the knocks on him in his first two years in the league were that he needed to use his speed to get to the middle third of the ice more and play with a more competitive edge, but he has made noticeable progress on both fronts this year to score more and become more of a play-driver at both ends. He sees the ice well and processes the game quickly even at speed, which can sometimes be a problem for faster skaters. I like the way he jumps into gaps and creates quick looks. He’s starting to play into the guts and find his way out more, making better choices about when to go wide and when to drive into teams, push them back and make the kick-out play. And when he’s feeling it, he has the puck a lot and passes it well to the weak side of coverage.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Jesse Pulkkinen – Defenseman, JYP (Liiga)
(6’6″, 215lb / Shot: L / 29 GP – 2G, 6A, 8Pts | JYP U20 18 GP – 11G, 17A, 28Pts)

  • That size on the back-end is hard to argue against for this Blackhawks team. Pulkkinen is also a year older and thus could be a year closer to being ready to play professionally in North America after already getting substantial time playing pro minutes in Finland. His dominance amongst his peers is a good sign that he is ready for the next step in front him.

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“The top overage player in the draft this year, Pulkkinen played around 18 minutes a night with JYP, which isn’t always easy for a 19-year-old. Against U-20 kids, he played more than 25 minutes most nights, including a whopping 31:29 on March 17. Nothing tops his 38:09 in Mestis play back in November, though. Pulkkinen can handle significant pressure well and has the offensive and physical chops to battle older, stronger competition. Don’t be surprised if a team reaches for him late in the first.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Marek Vanacker – Left Wing, Brantford Bulldogs (OHL)
(6’0″, 160lb / Shot: L / 68 GP – 36G, 46A, 82Pts)

  • A creative offensive force that the Blackhawks would have been able to have eyes on alongside Brantford teammate and 2023 Chicago draft pick Nick Lardis, Vanacker is a player who thrives with pace in his game. There’s questions about his all-around game, but if he were to be matched down the road on a line with more defensively-proficient forwards on an NHL line, you could live with the defensive deficiency because the production would be there.

“I really like his combination of open-ice skills, being able to create a lane for his shot or for his passing. He likes to shift the defense and play with defensive gaps a lot. He’s not the most physically robust guy, but he’s very good at drawing players to him and then cutting back, which creates the route for him to escape and cut to the net. A little bit of a weird skater, but I think it’s probably NHL-projectable. The defense is a massive problem, but I don’t think it’s going to continue to be as bad. I think he’s the kind of guy who will leverage his speed and work-rate within the defensive zone within a year or two.” – Mitchell Brown, Elite Prospects

Cole Hutson – Defenseman, U.S. National Team Development Program
(5’10”, 160lb / Shot: L / 66 GP – 16G, 39A, 55Pts)

  • Cole Hutson is a slightly bigger version of his older brother Lane. The North Barrington-native just set the USNTDP all-time scoring record by a defenseman this season with over 112 career points across all competitions. He doesn’t have the desirable size for NHL standards on the blue-line, but his offensive skills allow you to look past that.

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“A skilled blueliner who competes off the puck and can make a lot of smart plays with it on his stick, Cole Hutson is cut from largely the same cloth as older brother and Montreal prospect Lane. Cole checks in at 5-foot-10, which is bigger than his brother was in his draft year, but Cole has a few other elements that differ. He is about to become the NTDP’s all-time leading scorer among defensemen, which is a major feat considering who has come through there. Hutson is an aggressive player with dogged competitiveness. Despite lacking size for a defenseman, he still defends at a good level and can make a ton of plays in all three zones.” – Chris Peters, Flo Hockey

Feb 7, 2024; Plymouth, MI, USA; USA s Cole Hutson (23) skates up ice with the puck against Finland during the third period of the 2024 U18 s Five Nations Tournament at USA Hockey Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Henry Mews – Defenseman, Ottawa 67’s (OHL)
(6’0″, 185lb / Shot: R / 65 GP – 15G, 46A, 61Pts)

  • Mews started his draft year as a defenseman that was looking like a mid-first round prospect but has slid down the draft rankings as the season wore on. He has all the tools to be a successful defenseman at the NHL level, but some worry about how quickly he processes and plays the game. Playing slow as a defenseman means you have to make up for it with your mind and your positioning. We’ll see how teams view him as the first round comes to a conclusion and if he sneaks into the first 32 picks.

“I like him a lot more than (Cole) Hutson. He’s a bit of a low-pace guy, but if he can pick that pace up, he can be an incredible creator. He has all the mechanics for defense down, too, it’s just a matter of closing earlier and being more aggressive. He’s one of those guys who every facet of his game is just a little bit too slow to project to the NHL, but all the tools are there.” – Mitchell Brown, Elite Prospects

The second of the three picks in the second round of the draft again presents the Blackhawks with an abundance of opportunities to either move up or down, or use the pick to find a more longer-term project player who could pan-out to be low-risk/high-reward. In an ideal world, of course. This is also a range where players who possess something the Blackhawks need up-front and something you can’t teach, size, reside.

Aron Kiviharju – Defenseman, HIFK (Liiga)
(5’10”, 165lb / Shot: L / 7 GP – 1G, 1A, 2Pts)

  • Injuries have plagued Kiviharju’s draft year. He was previously a first-round talent on pretty much every draft board, but with his lack of playing time this season, he has fallen down draft boards but still has the raw tools to be a difference-maker on the back-end.

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“He’s definitely most noticeable breaking the puck out of his own zone, where his little carries and outlets make a big difference. He shows deception across the line though as well, although there are times when I’d like to see him look to attack and take charge himself in the offensive zone a little more. It can look like he’s always trying to set up the next heady little play instead of just commanding it. When he does really attack, he usually accomplishes what he’s looking to as well because he’s hyper aware out there of the way the play develops. Cerebral is the perfect word.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Adam Kleber – Defenseman, Lincoln Stars (USHL)
(6’5″, 205lb / Shot: R / 56 GP – 5G, 21A, 26Pts)

  • Big, physical, right-shot defenseman. That combination is going to take you places in hockey. Kleber has those measurables working for him and his game is continuing to evolve as he prepares for next season at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

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“A 6-foot-5, right-shot defenseman that’s just coming into his own, Kleber has some serious potential. While his numbers are not particularly impressive offensively, he has shown some significant improvement year-over-year in his puck play. His shot has become more effective and he moves pucks much more accurately than he had in the previous season. Big defensemen are at a premium in the NHL, especially ones with solid mobility and a willingness to be physical. Kleber checks a lot of boxes and the offense is starting to come a bit more.” – Chris Peters, Flo Hockey

Dean Letourneau – Center, St. Andrew’s College (U18 AAA)
(6’7″, 210lb / Shot: R / 73 GP – 78G, 82A, 158Pts)

  • Letourneau is one of the more fascinating players in this draft class for me personally. Just looking at the production and your lizard brain just goes wild. Then you see that he would be better suited to play tight end in football rather than being a hockey player and your mind begins to wander about just how dominant he could be at the next levels. If the Blackhawks want a net-front force, but a long-term project pick here, Letourneau sure seems to fit that bill perfectly. He’s committed to Boston College for the 2025-26 season.

“I’m a big fan of Letourneau, even if he fell in my rankings. The 6-foot-7 forward moves so well for his size, and he has a net-front presence teams will die for. His numbers have been tremendous, scoring at more than a goal-per-game pace and lifting St. Andrew’s up more often than not. Letourneau can dominate puck possession with his frame, and he has quick hands, too. The next Tage Thompson? We’ll see.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Dean Letourneau at St. Andrew’s College. (Photo Courtesy: Paul Mosey / St. Andrew’s College)

Kamil Bednarik – Center, U.S. National Team Development Program
(6’0″, 185lb / Shot: L / 84 GP – 36G, 57A, 93Pts)

  • Badnarik is another player who figures to be a versatile lineup guy who can do a bit of everything good, but nothing great. His production this season was up there with the bests in the USNTDP, but he rarely drove his linemates. He’s headed to Boston University next season.

“Badnarik’s an interesting one because he’s played with their (USNTDP) top-top guys, and he’s played with other guys, he does well with them but he doesn’t do great with them. I think he’s just not a high-end guy, but he does get the job done. He’s just not a big time scorer. He’s hard to figure.” – Russ Cohen, Elite Prospects

Adam Jecho – Right Wing, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
(6’5″, 200lb / Shot: R / 53 GP – 23G, 24A, 57Pts)

  • The size of Jecho gets you excited and the Blackhawks lack the kind of players who are that big and can be productive at the professional level. He’s a longer project though and his skating might never be at the level where the Blackhawks hold their standards.

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“A big man with the ability to produce always catches attention and Jecho will be no different. The 6-foot-5 winger is a little over a point per game in the WHL and has enough puck skills to believe there could be some more offense in there. That said, he has a heavier stride and the lack of foot speed could become a problem as it does not seem he processes the game at a pro level, not yet at least.” – Chris Peters, Flo Hockey

Ben Danford – Defenseman, Oshawa Generals (OHL)
(6’0″, 175lb / Shot: R / 64 GP – 1G, 32A, 33Pts)

  • Being reliable as a defenseman will take you places at the higher levels of hockey. But that only goes so far and your skills with the puck and off it as a defenseman need to help you stand out. Danford is steady, but does that alone garner a second-round investment?

“For a defenseman with Danford’s offensive abilities, it’s crazy he had just one goal during the regular season with Oshawa. But he’s a guy his teammates like to rely on because he’s rarely caught making a mistake distributing the puck. I’ve seen Danford play both sides on the blueline this year but I think he’s got something going on the left side – it fits his shot better.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Ryerson Leenders – Goalie, Mississauga Steelheads (OHL)
(6’1″, 180lb / Catches: L / 46GP – 24-17-4, .909 Save%, 3.12 GAA)

  • Regarded by a number of scouts and draft analysts as the top goaltending prospect in the draft class, Leenders could add to a young group in the Blackhawks system that already has Drew Commesso and Adam Gajan. There’s nothing wrong with getting depth at a position like goaltender where every player’s development path and timeline is different.

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“I still think Leenders is the best goaltender in the draft class, even if things didn’t end on the right foot against Sudbury. He proved countless times this year that he was capable of stealing games and had the best save percentage of any draft-eligible OHL goaltender this year at .909. Keep in mind that defensive play can be quite wonky at this age. He rarely got out-goalie’d in tight matchups, something scouts appreciate.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Late into the second round, the Blackhawks again have flexibility with what they can do. There’s still a good amount of talent within this range and the Blackhawks are still in a position to be patient with a lot of their prospects. Late-second round players are where you can find important depth across the board and part of the long-term plans from GM Kyle Davidson include being able to re-open that window of Stanley Cup contention and then keep it open with a continuous stream of young talent cycling through the organization. This range usually lends itself to players who are still three or four years away from professional hockey at the highest levels.

Lukas Fischer – Defenseman, Sarina Sting (OHL)
(6’3″, 180lb / Shot: L / 68 GP – 6G, 28A, 34Pts)

  • If you can be physical and reliable as a defenseman, you’re going to have a place at the professional levels. Fischer likes to be physical and can move his feet and the puck well enough to project to one day play in the NHL.

“He has that hard defensive game. He can engage. He can punish opponents and he has these occasional puck-moving flashes like using the net to create separation from the forecheck or his stretch-passing ability. The tools are interesting. He has the size, the skating, the physicality, and he’s one of the youngest players in the draft. There are some questions about hockey sense but there are enough flashes that he could create some plays at the NHL level and really become this No. 5 insulator/shut-down defenseman who can somewhat move the puck still.” – David St-Louis, Elite Prospects

Matvei Gridin – Right Wing, Muskegon Lumberjacks (USHL)
(6’1″, 185lb / Shot: L / 60 GP – 38G, 45A, 83Pts)

  • There’s going to be an interesting conversation around Gridin, no matter where he is picked. The production in his draft year in the USHL was undeniable. There’s not many holes to his game and he has that above-average size to help. He’s headed to the University of Michigan next year.

“Gridin, a Russian import to the USHL who is committed to play at Michigan next fall, got off to one of the hottest starts in North American junior hockey and has continued to produce, to the point he’s going to lead the USHL in scoring. That’s pretty uncommon for a draft-aged player and is usually reserved for first-round locks. I don’t quite have him there but he’s in the conversation for me and may be a late first-rounder.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Matvei Gridin of the Muskegon Lumberjacks (Photo Courtesy: Roy K. Miller, USHL/ Muskegon Lumberjacks)

Tomas Lavoie – Defenseman, Cape Breton Eagles (QMJHL)
(6’4″, 200lb / Shot: R / 65 GP – 3G, 21A, 24Pts)

  • Another on this list of stabilizing, big, right-shot defensemen, Lavoie has had a lot of eyes on him over the past two seasons in the QMJHL and hasn’t disappointed. He doesn’t have the raw offensive skills to make him a first-round prospect, but he does enough well across the board where he’ll likely one day find his way into a regular role in the NHL.

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Lavoie is in his second season in the QMJHL with Cape Breton and was the 1st overall selection in the 2022 QMJHL Draft. A big 6’4 right-handed defenseman who skates well and plays a strong two-way game. Plays a fairly conservative style but is effective in offensive situations. Lavoie has good structure defensively with good feet and mobility making him tough to play against. His puck game continues to mature and he plays with confidence and poise. He makes the good first-pass and activates smartly when offensive opportunities arise. Lavoie plays a smart game at the offensive blue line and gets shots through to the net. He processes the game effectively and displays elements that will transfer well to the NHL. Matt Tidcombe, CHL Hockey

Will Zellers – Forward, Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep (U.S. High School)
(5’11”, 170lb / Shot: L / 48 GP – 48G, 47A, 95Pts)

  • It feels like the only reason that Zellers might be available in this second-round range is because he’s coming out of the prep level. But, to his credit on that idea, he’s coming from a prep juggernaut that has produced countless NHL talents in Shattuck St. Mary’s. He played this season at a goal-per-game and two-point-per-game pace and no one falls backwards into that kind of production. He’s headed to the University of North Dakota next year.

“A North Dakota commit who is expected to jump right from Shattuck into the NCAA, Zellers does a wonderful job playing pucks into space and skating into them. He has legit touch and skill on the puck, and has scored some beautiful goals this season. I like his approach to offense and the way he uses the puck to create advantages for himself or his linemates. He can make the quick play or the long one, and makes good decisions about when to pace up or slow it down and hold it. He’s got great hands and a quick, adjustable release. There’s some clear talent there; the question is whether it’ll translate.” – Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

Sam O’Reilly – Forward, London Knights (OHL)
(6’1″, 175lb / Shot: R / 68 GP – 20G, 36A, 56Pts)

  • The tools are there for O’Reilly to be a productive player at the next level, but he’ll need time to put them all together to have a long future in the NHL.

“O’Reilly has been one of the biggest movers in the draft rankings due to his play as a smart, two-way center. O’Reilly was playing Jr. B with the London Nationals last year, but it didn’t take him long to get acquainted to the speed and tenacity of the OHL. He put up better numbers than Easton Cowan did last year and just below Denver Barkey, so that’s a good sign. O’Reilly is toolsy, which is important for a player his age.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Justin Poirier – Right Wing, Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
(5’8″, 180lb / Shot: R / 68 GP – 51G, 31A, 82Pts)

  • Outside of Cole Eiserman, there’s a case to be made that Poirier is the best pure-goal scorer in the draft class. While his size is not “desirable,” he doesn’t play like he’s 5’8″. Having that tenacity will help put him over in this second-round range.

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“His shot is one of the best in the draft. He scores in a bunch of ways. Around the net, he’s very physical and mean for his size. His play-making is slightly improving, like he’s very focused on shooting and that’s probably because he wanted to reach the 50-goal plateau, but I expect his game will be more well-rounded in the next years and he’s one of the youngest players in the draft.” – David St-Louis, Elite Prospects

Will Skahan – Defenseman, U.S. National Team Development Program
(6’4″, 215lb / Shot: L / 80 GP – 8G, 10A, 18Pts)

  • He has the size, he’s stable, and he can move his feet and the puck at a high-level for his frame. Skahan doesn’t have the offensive tools that jump off the page, but he’s got the ability to be sound defensively at the professional levels. He’s heading to Boston College next year.

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“He was better earlier in the season, there’s no question about that. But the thing you should take into account is that his Dad is a strength coach, he does have good coaching. Pretty good speed for his size, he definitely punishes guys, he likes doing that. He’s just had an up-an-down year…He can move the puck in transition, too, he’s got a pro-level pass. He’s got the size, the strength. The skating is projectable. I think he’s going to be one of these guys who will go much sooner than the 60’s and ends up being a nice No. 5 on a team.” – Russ Cohen and Cam Robinson, Elite Prospects

Third Round

Much like the turnaround of the first to second round, the quick turnaround from the second to third rounds gives the Blackhawks the ability to move up to be aggressive for “their guy” or down and continue to stockpile draft capital if they feel they can still get the kind of player they want and add to their future draft plans.

Carter George – Goalie, Owen Sound Attack (OHL)
(6’0″, 160lb / Catches: L / 56 GP – 23-21-6, .907 Save%, 3.30 GAA)

  • He might not be a hulking goalie, but that’s not the be-all, end-all between the pipes. Much like Leenders earlier in this list, there’s nothing wrong with trying to add another higher-end goaltender to the Blackhawks’ pool when the development timelines of goalies usually take much longer than any skater position does.

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“George’s game is built around just keeping things steady and relaxed in the crease. At 6-foot-1, George is also on the smaller side, but he’s as confident as they come in this year’s class. Let in a bad goal? He’s going to rob you on your next chance. Nothing seems to bother him, and he also sees through traffic well for a smaller keeper. From a skill perspective, he’s clean, but can scouts look past the smaller frame?” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Carson Wetsch – Forward, Calgary Hitmen (WHL)
(6’2′, 185lb / Shot: R / 67 GP – 25G, 25A, 50Pts)

  • Above-average size and a high-compete level give Wetsch an edge in this third-round range. If the Blackhawks could find a player who is willing to get to the net and play hard minutes in this area of the draft, that’s a victory.

“Wetsch plays the game the same way every night. Pressures opponents up ice as F1 on the forecheck and finishes his checks. Battles in the trenches. Goes to the net hunting tips and rebounds. Secondary offense at the NHL level on projection. Potential middle of the lineup match-up forward who can grind down opponents. Skating and skill are sound. As is his hockey sense.” – CapFriendly

Calgary Hitmen right wing Carson Wetsch is intercepted by Spokane Chiefs centre Berkly Catton during the third period at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Friday, January 12, 2024. (Photo Courtesy: Brent Calver/Postmedia)

Gabriel Frasca – Center, Kingston Frontenacs (OHL)
(6’0″, 170lb / Shot: L / 44 GP – 15G, 17A, 32 Pts)

  • The Blackhawks would have had a good opportunity to see Frasca this year with his Kingston teammate being 2022 Chicago draft pick Paul Ludwinski. Injuries hindered his season, but the production was solid in the time he was on the ice and has a game predicated on speed. Sounds familiar.

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“Gabriel is a heady player. He excelled as an OHL rookie because of his intelligence level and vision. He’s also probably the best skater of the brothers and as such, is likely to be the best NHL prospect. I know he has his fans in the NHL scouting community. But, I want to see the progression this year before I slot him above others.” – Brock Otton, OHL Prospects

Ondrej Kos – Left Wing, Ilves U20/KOOVEE (U20 SM-sarja/Mestis)
(6’1″, 150lb / Shot: L / 14 GP – 3G, 2A, 5Pts)

  • We’ve heard about players who are “identity players” and how the Blackhawks needed more players who were willing to accept their roles on the team. While that was an NHL problem for Chicago this season, they don’t want it to be constantly coming up year-after-year as their prospects move up into the NHL. Kos comes off as a player who already knows the kind of role he’ll need to play to make it to the NHL one day. I like guys like that.

“Kos is a tall, lean forward who plays with consistent compete and energy. In time he will add more weight and strength to his frame, which should lead to more impact in all three zones – especially in the offensive zone around the net. Solid pace. Reliable hockey sense. Potential depth NHL player in time. The kind of prospect who isn’t likely to produce a ton of offense but can check and kill penalties. – CapFriendly

Alexander Zetterberg – Center, Örebro HK J20 (J20 Nationell)
(5’8″, 160lb / Shot: R / 45 GP – 21G, 37A, 58Pts)

  • Not that Zetterberg family. Alexander has the tools to produce amongst his peers, but it comes down to how his game would translate and evolve as he matures and plays more against competition that will push him physically.

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“Zetterberg has stood out as one of the Swedish U18’s best players for the last three seasons and as a top performer on his Örebro club. He showcases sharp two-way play, above-average puck skills, and excellent hockey sense. Despite lacking the size and speed to win puck battles, his intelligent play and dangerous one-timer compensate effectively. His playoff performance highlighted his engagement away from the puck and massive playmaking potential. The challenge for Zetterberg remains: Can he improve his physical strength to elevate his game to the next level?” – Seth Ditchfield, Dobber Prospects

Harrison Brunicke – Defenseman, Kamloops Blazers (WHL)
(6’3″, 185lb / Shot: R / 49 GP – 10G, 11A, 21Pts)

  • Size, offensive capabilities, right-shot defenseman. Yeah, there will be a place for Brunicke at the next levels of hockey. If the Blackhawks plan to bolster their forwards group with their early picks, he would make a good mid-round addition on the right side of the blue-line.

“Brunicke could become the second South African-born player drafted in the first round. While I have him farther down, I do know there’s been some interest from teams looking for a big, right-handed defenseman who can play a bunch of different roles. He’s quite smart with the puck, and I feel like his offensive abilities are better than his numbers suggest. With a 6-foot-3 frame, projectable traits and some budding offensive potential, there’s a lot to like here. – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Much like in the past two third rounds under GM Kyle Davidson, the Blackhawks could find those important depth players or players who fit the organization stylistically for what Davidson and head coach Luke Richardson want to accomplish. Think of Samuel Savoie and Gavin Hayes.

Brodie Ziemer – Forward, U.S. National Team Development Program
(5’11”, 195lb / Shot: R / 84 GP – 32G, 52A, 84Pts)

  • The Blackhawks could add another higher-end skilled forward to their prospect pool who can project as a top-nine offensive option in Ziemer. Being a point-per-game player at the USNTDP is a good signal of more to come for a player moving to the next level. Ziemer is headed to the University of Minnesota next season and will join Blackhawks prospects Oliver Moore and Sam Rinzel.

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“A highly-skilled playmaker who can make defenders miss and find his best options, Ziemer has a lot of interesting tools that should only be enhanced as he gets stronger. A point-per-game player at the NTDP this season, he is overshadowed a bit by bigger names, but every game you watch him, he makes something happen.” – Chris Peters, Flo Hockey

Feb 7, 2024; Plymouth, MI, USA; USA s Brodie Ziemer (2) poke checks the puck from Finland’s Aatos Koivu (12) during the third period of the 2024 U18 s Five Nations Tournament at USA Hockey Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Reginek-USA TODAY Sports

Colton Roberts – Defenseman, Vancouver Giants (WHL)
(6’4″, 195lb / Shot: R / 62 GP – 7G, 20A, 27Pts)

  • Big, right-shot, project defenseman. Far be it from the Blackhawks to take a chance on someone like that.

“Big, smooth-skating defenseman that likes to try to create from behind his own net on breakouts. Improved his rush defense this season significantly, although there it still is a lot of work to do. His tools are projectable (in the NHL).” – Mitchell Brown, Elite Prospects

Simon Zether – Center, Rögle BK (SHL)
(6’3″, 185lb / Shot: R / 42 GP – 0G, 4A, 4Pts)

  • Size down the middle is something the Blackhawks lack in their prospect pool. While it would be nice to be able to add a player at the center position that has the kind of size Zether has and higher-end skill, there’s nothing wrong with taking a chance on an 18-year-old who played primarily as a pro against men in the SHL all season and seeing if those offensive skills can develop further.

“Zether caught my eye as a late 2005-born player last year, especially internationally. He’s got significant SHL experience, and he didn’t lack confidence against the tougher competition. Zether stands at 6-foot-2 and seems to play bigger than his size. He’s a good play-reader, moves the puck well and is great in small-area situations. A few scouts think he’s better than his numbers suggest and that he could become a great pickup.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Lucas Van Vliet – Left Wing, U.S. National Team Development Program
(6’1″, 180lb / Shot: L / 68 GP – 17G, 13A, 30Pts)

  • As is always the case with the USNTDP, there’s going to be skilled players that get buried in the lineup by more elite-level players both offensively and defensively. It feels like Van Vliet is a victim of that abundance of talent in the program. He has the tools to be a competitive bottom-six forward. Van Vliet is headed to Michigan State next year.

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“Primarily used in a depth role for Team USA. Capable of moving up in the lineup and being deployed in a variety of roles. Moves well. Sneaky offense. Competes. Middle-six NHL upside, likely leaning third-line. Recognizes his responsibility in all three zones. Has to be watched closely to be fully appreciated.” – CapFriendly

Clarke Caswell – Forward, Swift Current Broncos (WHL)
(5’11”, 175lb / Shot: L / 68 GP – 26G, 51A, 77Pts)

  • Producing at more than a point-per-game pace in your draft year in the WHL is a good jumping-off point for Caswell. There’s a lot to like in his offensive toolkit that could make him successful at the next levels, but his skating is what might hold him back from being higher than a mid-to-early third-round pick.

“Caswell had a quiet first half but finished the year by registering a point in all but one game after mid-February. He really started to come alive in the postseason, showing a level of energy and tenacity that you love to see from someone trying to prove themselves. It’s hard to get a good read on what his future’s like – he’s not big, needs to improve his skating and could up his defensive game, but with the puck, there’s a lot to like.” – Steven Ellis, Daily Faceoff

Tarin Smith – Defenseman, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
(6’1″, 175lb / Shot: L / 67 GP – 8G, 36A, 44Pts)

  • We preach a lot that a shot on goal is never a bad thing, even coming from the blue-line. You can create screens, tips, rebounds, it’s all workable. Smith seems to be that kind of thinker offensively as a defenseman. If the Blackhawks want to add a more two-way proficient defenseman with above-average size and a good hockey head on his shoulders, taking a look at Smith in this third-round range would make a lot of sense.

“Smith is an offensive-defenseman who is dynamic with the puck and creates off the rush using his feet and creative puck-handling to slip through defenders in highlight-reel fashion. He’s an intelligent passer but loves to take a volume of shots from the point. His defensive game is solid, though he’s prone to gaffes. Smith can work his way into an NHL lineup as long as he remains committed to defense, works on his lateral movement, and continues find offense as a weak-side activator.” – Luke Sweeney, Dobber Prospects

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