I imagine that at least some Hawks' fans are seeing a picture of Michael Misa for the first time. For prospect junkies like myself, Misa is a household name. Simply put, we may not have to wait that long for the next Matthews, McDavid, or Bedard. He could arrive in the 2025 draft in the form of the dynamic young OHL star Michael Misa.
What if I told you there was a 15 year old already in the OHL breaking records once held by Connor McDavid? The likely 2025 #1 pick, Misa has 35 points in 26 contests going up against mainly 17-20 year olds. Not only that, but he is already 5'11 so his projection is to a center of typical NHL size.
John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, and Shane Wright. Just some of the players to be granted the very rare denotion of "exceptional status" in the CHL. Michael Misa is the latest to have this honor given to him. Long story short.... It's early, but you should get to know this player.
It doesn't end there either with 2025. USHL star James Hagens is also a likely top 3 candidate already. The native New Yorker is already showing pro level hands and scoring ability. I expect him to be a name that Blackhawks' fans keep up with.
Rewinding a bit, the 2024 draft class is also going to be one where there appears to be tremendous future NHL talent at the top. We should all know a few names, like D Aron Kiviharju.
The Danish LD is an amazing skater already. Likely never a towering defenseman like a Hedman or Ekblad were, but more in the Cale Makar or Rasmus Dahlin camp of skills. You can see from the camp video above the ability to skate with the puck in all situations while keeping position with his vision always up. I fully expect him to be a top 4 pick in the 2024 draft and a player Chicago should firmly have its eyes on.
There are 3 other players in the 2024 class that I can already see as top 5 selections. Let's start with Macklin Celebrini. Mack should be familiar to Chicagoland as he is playing for the Steel at present. On a similar path as Adam Fantili, Celebrini is a Canadian that chose to go the USHL / College route in his draft -1 and -2 years. He will be a freshman at Boston University next season. Expect him to be a top 3 pick.
Next is Cole Eiserman. Cole is a goal scorer, plain and simple. When he was 14 in AAA, he scored 97 goals and 154 points in 50 games. Fast forward 2 seasons and the 16 year old winger is still producing over a point per game in the USHL as a 16 year old. I could see him in the top 5 and the Blackhawks are most definitley scouting him as we speak.
Lastly for 2024, start to know Berkly Catton. The Canadian center is finding his way in the WHL. The Western Hockey League is typically the more physical of the CHL, so to see Catton at almost a point per against much older competition is something to take note of. I expect as Catton makes gains on his frame, that he will quickly become one of the WHL's star centers.
Also, while I know it's way too early. There is ALREADY a standout 2026 prospect: Gavin McKenna. He is 14, so diving into his game is a bit premature but you should keep him on your watch list. He is playing for Medicine Hat at 14 which is just amazing.
So if the Blackhawks surprisingly end up with the likes of Leo Carlsson, Will Smith, or Zach Benson in this draft it won't be the end of our gamble (like any rebuild is). There are star prospects in the next 2 drafts that would quickly change the direction of our team. For me, from what I've seen so far, keep an eye on Misa. He may be the next Connor Bedard... just 2 years later.