As the Hawks and Lightning tilt right now (lost 3-1 just now) we are reminded that the Blackhawks have both of Tampa Bays' picks within the first 2 rounds in June. Within the first 100 selections we have 9 picks which are at the present moment are:
#2, 25, 34, 47, 57, 58, 66, 91, and 98th
Well that is certainly alot of firepower to acquire a wealth of new talent. If we were to stay pat with those positions, this is whom I'd like to target:
2. C Adam Fantilli - I know most here will say, "yep, duh" but honestly it's quite close with Matvei Michkov for me. Ultimately the position, size, and ability to play as quickly as next season are the main proponents of the selection. Fantilli would immediately be the face of the franchise and usher in a new era of young Blackhawks to cheer for.
25. RW Gabe Perreault - While Smith, Moore, and Leonard get alot of the headlines it may be Perreault that is the most consistent. At nearly 2 points a game in the USHL, Perreault is not shy when he has the puck. Pairing up Fantilli with a bevy of skilled wings should be mission 1 for Kyle Davidson if we land the #2 spot. This is likely a drafting range for him here, while I see Cristall and Barlow as already being drafted.
34. C Otto Stenberg - Good sized center with a responsible game that projects to a steady top 3 center. Given the depth in this draft, I expect Stenberg to go late 1st to early-mid second round. The Hawks would be smart to snatch up the talented center. Definitely a player with a high floor, lower ceiling than some, however he has a high offensive IQ and moves the puck with a variety of pro level passes.
47. C Gracyn Sawchyn - Sawchyn is a center for the Seattle Thunderbirds so many of us are likely familiar with his game due to the team having a few of our drafted players of late. Gracyn is a little under sized for an NHL center, so he may or may not stick in the middle. At a point per game in his first WHL season there is alot to like about his game. Sawchyn is all about utilizing those small areas in between the dots and threading passes through. He is a playmaker through and through and is best in open space with a great hands. Only concern would be when the game becomes physical and the line has to retreat out of the zone as his transition to defense leaves much to be desired. His value is in his open ice vision and in close passing ability. His skill in quickly changing his stick angles and grips to make the correct pass is something that is pro level right now. You can really see how his game translates to the NHL when in the offensive zone and he is looking at which pass is made and where he needs to be in 2-3 passes. This is around where he will be considered by teams for sure.
57. LW Noel Nordh - This is a really good sized wing (LW or RW) with alot of skill netting the puck. Now in the SHL (Brynas), Nordh is a left shot already around 6-2, 200lbs playing against men at the pro level. After studying his game, I came away impressed with his skating at that size (some sites list him at 6'3 now). The second thing you notice is his impressive motor. Sometimes it gets him into trouble by over skating players and being out of position, but you can't knock his effort. In the Hlinka-Gretzky he showed excellent pickup entering the offensive zone and was able to get off a few tremendous wristers. I could see him go as early as the top of the 2nd or as late as 75th... Just depends how the board falls and whom is making the call.
58. D Gavin McCarthy - Young for the class and without alot of the fanfare that some get, but don't overlook this outstanding prospect. I could easily see a GM just pull the trigger on him 20 picks before anyone else would. He has all the measurements, skill traits, and pathways that excite any scout.... Right hand shot D that is young for the class and is already around 6-2 185 and heading to Boston University. His USHL career has shown a good two way game though still a bit to be desired with some fumbles and error-laden passing decisions. He excels when the north-south movement is fast and he can quickly move it along. He should fill out to an NHL frame quickly and will get coached up by some of the best collegiate minds in hockey. This is player that is a little boom or bust, but if he hits could be a steal late in the second.
66. LW Martin Misiak - Has played center as well, but most likely Misiak (Me-Shack I believe) will be a wing at the NHL level. Very big framed forward out of Slovakia that just transitioned to North American hockey in the USHL (for Youngstown). After showing alot of promise in Slovakia (10 points in 29 games as a 17 year old) he is finding his footing here in America. Misiak is a left shot and already has a 6'2 200lb NHL wing body. He strides effortlessly when on a rush to fill in the wings for quick wristers and has shown a great finishing ability to his game. I think most teams will start to view him as an option in the 45-85 range making this a possibility.
91. D Matthew Mania - Another right shot defenseman for me on Mania. I've seen him listed anywhere from a late second to a late third round grade by most and I tend to agree with the latter. The top scoring D for Sudbury in the OHL, Mania is a goal scoring blue liner with a nice point shot. He is of average size and definitely leans towards the offensive side of things with effortless skating and in tight edge work that is very impressive. Size and defensive abilty may push him out of the second, but he won't last long. If he does get pushed into this draft range, it would be in our best interest to select the OHL defenseman.
98. G Scott Ratlaff - Let's continue to draft all available Seattle Thunderbirds by now bringing their goalie into the fold. It's difficult to assess his overall game playing for such a sound team at times and while he is not the biggest netminder (6-1, 172lbs) he is viewed as a long term investment with excellent upside to his glove work and sound technical travail. Adding a goalie in this draft to me is a must and while not the biggest name on the goalie board, Ratzlaff could pay off in 5-6 years of development for the Hawks.
Now clearly this is an absolute best-case scenario draft for the Hawks as many of these players will be considered earlier than when I have them going. I want to say though that I put together a top 100 and each of these prospects were within a few spots of where I took them in this mock draft. To the point, this is a ridiculous group of high end prospects in 2023. While I don't believe we will end up with 9 picks in the top 100, you can see that if we stay in our current alignment we can draft a ton of future Blackhawks.