First a quick recap / notes of their actual picks:
1. C Connor Bedard - 5'10 / 185 - This has been known for almost 7 weeks now so the praise, excitement and details of his game have been well discussed up to this point. It's now time to get to work and get to know his team.
19. C Oliver Moore - 5'11 / 194 - One of the steals of the draft (there were many), Moore fell right into the Blackhawks lap whom apparently tried "multiple" times to trade up for him. All worked out and the Blackhawks got my #8 rated player all the way at #19. The future Gopher is a speedster, but his game has all the details and off ice intangibles you look for in a top 2 center.
35. G Adam Gajan - 6'3 / 181 - The Slovak over ager broke through with a great showing in 4 games in the WJC (20) posting a 2.40 GAA and a .936 Save %. His year split between the USHL / NAHL was also solid, but make no mistake he made an impression for team Slovakia that made Kyle Davidson take notice. Look, goalies are fickle and who knows which one in the class will end up with the best career. I found it difficult that Michael Hrabal (who went right after Gajan) wasn't the first goalie picked (he was the best prospect to me), however we likely won't know for 7-8 years from now on this selection. For me though it was about passing on Ethan Gauthier here that is the head scratcher. Gajan was my #73 player.
44. RW Roman Kantserov - 5'9 / 176 - The diminutive Russian winger is uber talented with the puck and makes quick difficult in tight moves look easy. This is a pick I can't complain too much on except for the fact that Lukas Dragicevic was still on the board and would have been my pick. Kantserov put up a point per game in a mostly defensive MHL so there is a lot of upside here. If I had to guess this could be a long wait as Kantserov will likely play another year in the MHL rank before moving up to the KHL and then hopefully get to the Icehogs and eventually the Blackhawks. Kantserov was my #67 player.
*Pick #51 was sent to the Philadelphia Flyers for a 2024 2nd round pick. I had previously mentioned this was a possibility for the Blackhawks to try and limit their ELC allocation per year..
55. RW Martin Misiak - 6'2 / 201 - Another RW here, but quite the different selection in terms of size. I've always liked Misiak and he was actually my #54 rated player, so spot on here with the pick. Adding to the Slovak pipeline here, there is a ton to like here as he is a strong player that can play on the outside or at the net. Misiak shows good 2 way play and is a reliable winger already in the USHL. Overall there is a lot to like here.
67. LW Nick Lardis - 5'11 / 168 - My 43rd rated player at #67? Yes please. I was hoping for him at #44 actually, so to get him this late is huge. Lardis is one of the youngest players in this class and is still just 17. This was all about the trade to Hamilton for Lardis. He went from high pick for Peterborough to somewhat of a disappointment to scoring 46 points in just 33 games for Hamilton. Lardis projects as a smooth skating, quick reaction winger that has a deceptive shot. His edge work East-West also shows some skill that should translate to the next level.
93. C Jiri Felcman - 6'4 / 198 - Here is where the swings started to come in for the Blackhawks. Despite some really good names still on the board Chicago picked Felcman whom I believed was going to be a late 6-7th round pick. The tall Czechia forward is playing for Langnau in the U20-Elit league and has 31 points in 40 games this past season. His Czechia International matchups were also nothing of note. This is a pure swing at the fences and likely one that will place his contract overseas and not on the Hawks books for quite some time.
99. C Alex Pharand - 6'3 / 201 - Another player I had much later in the draft. I was thinking late 5th at best for the Sudbury native. Here is size again with projections on being a hard to play against checking winger at the next level. This could be a pick with board battles and a high floor in mind to help out Rockford in the years to come.
131. LW Marcel Marcel - 6'4 / 243 - We can almost ice an entire Slovakia vs. Czechia game now as the Hawks nab the Czechia winger. Obviously, he has a name that stands out (that is an actual movie) but it's really his size that is the true standout here. Marcel will turn 20 on Halloween and came over to the QMJHL this season with Gatineau. The Blackhawks likely watched him as the Olymiques have Hawks prospect Samuel Savoie on it. Marcel produced this season with 32 points in 52 games, but again it's about his size and how he uses it here that is likely why the pick was made.
167. RW Milton Oscarson - 6'6 / 216 - The last two picks now definitely have a theme. The towering Swede is now a double over ager having turned 20 over 4 months ago now. With another year left on his Orebro contract in the SHL this is another european pick that I'm sure the Hawks look at as a player they push to a further out year in terms of their max contracts. 72 games in the SHL at age 20 is nothing to look down upon, however the upside here is extremely limiited in terms of offensive production (4 points in those games). This, like Marcel, is about a player using his size to his advantage.
195. LD Janne Peltonen - 6'3 / 174 - The tall Fin is all set to play his first season in Liiga with Karpat and that has to be the projection here for the Hawks. Just having turned 18 with an upcoming Liiga career in which Chicago can again stash some European talent for years and not on their books yet. One thing we know on him is that he is a really good skater as Mikko Luoma vouched for him as Mike Doneghey admitted, "I've never seen him play". That's some trust in your scouts!
I believe the Blackhawks did well with their first 6 picks and their last 5 picks I believe were all about European development / swings on translating traits. I think when we look back on this draft we will see Bedard and Moore as the cornerstones of the class, but Kantserov, Misiak, and Lardis should all have ample opportunities to carve out middle 6 roles in the NHL.
I am a little disappointed some of my favorite prospects were bypassed (many times) by the Hawks. I firmly disagree with taking Gajan as high as they did with Ethan Gauthier (a clear 1st round talent) sitting there. I also think passing on Lukas Dragicevic as many times as they did will come back on us (and the rest of the league).
A few players that went later than they should have I believe have NHL futures: Noel Nordh (3rd Rd. AZ), Koehn Ziemmer (3rd - LAK), Drew Fortescue (3rd - NYR), Jaden Lipinski (4th - CGY), Alex Ciernik (4th - PHI), Matthew Mania (5th - LAK), Jeremy Hanzel (6th - COL), and Connor Levis (7th - WPG).
Draft Losers based on my Big Board / Organizational fit (won't know for 5-8 years)
Some of my teams that had drafts that made me question their draft boards: Anaheim (let the Fantilli train run-ith through them) , Arizona (Russia in the Desert), Minnesota (got lucky with Hiedt, but reached in the 1st), Montreal (really not a good draft), Ottawa (couldn't deal DeBrincat and couldn't move up to help the club), Toronto (I like Cowan, but that's a round reach), Vancouver (I think Willander went 10 spots too high and they didn't add much afterwards). Ouch, just noticed I have 4 of the 7 Canadian teams on this list.
Draft Winners based on my Big Board / Organizational fit (won't know for 5-8 years)
Some teams (other than the Blackhawks) that I think made tremendous selections: Buffalo (big time draft), Calgary (really solid first 4 picks), Columbus, Los Angeles (pulling Dvorak, Ziemmer, and Mania out with late picks), Nashville (maybe no stars, but a slew of solid high floor picks), Philadelphia (maybe the winners? Michkov, Bonk, Bjarnason, Barkey, Knuble, and Ciernik all look like NHLers), Seattle (their 3 picks in the 2nd all have 1st round talent), Vegas (without many picks, they could hit on Edstrom, Cataford, and Karki), Winnipeg (it's a very solid draft with Barlow - Nehring - Levis as wings, Milic a potential steal in the 5th).
What an exciting 2 days! Can October get here already! Oh and as always, time to bring the black jerseys back!