When June 28th comes around in Las Vegas and the Chicago Blackhawks, and more to the point Kyle Davidson, are on the clock there seems (from my perspective) to be one obvious thing that will happen at the draft:
That after Macklin Celebrini goes #1, all bets are off for the rest of the draft.
I believe there are as many as 7 or 8 players right now in the mix to go 2nd or 3rd overall. For awhile it seemed as though Cole Eiserman and Ivan Demidov had those spots locked down.... but not so fast. As the seasons have played out some injuries have happened, some weaknesses exposed and maybe more to the true nature of a long season: Some players have risen as well.
So while it may end up being a Sam Dickinson, Cayden Lindstrom, Anton Silayev, Arytom Levshunov or the two above mentioned forwards, I'd like to focus in on Spokane superstar Berkly Catton. The first thing you should know is that this is a dynamic player in the WHL. After starting out well (59 points in 72 games 2022-2023) the Saskatoon native has upped his game (and then some).
Catton will turn 18 on Sunday (Happy Birthday!) and despite his diminutive size (5-11 163 pounds) is maybe the best pure skilled player in this entire draft. His skating is right in line with what Davidson has always said the team is looking for. He is a fast skater that uses his edge work to create space quickly on an offensive zone rush. This season the Spokane forward (can play any position on the line really) has netted 26 goals in just 37 games (61 points in total).
This puts him 7th overall in the WHL for scoring and 1st overall among first year draft eligibles. This is nothing to overlook, simply put Catton gets to where he wants when he wants and is finishing at a rapid pace. With a projection of well over a 100 points this year, why wouldn't a team drafting 2nd or 3rd consider Catton?
As you can see from some of his highlights, Catton has an extremely quick wrister paired with an accurate one timer slap shot. With the ability to play either wing position as a left shot forward, I believe he would be perfectly suited to lineup with Connor Bedard, Yes, I am aware that would put 2 sub 6ft forwards on the top line.... but that seems to have worked out just fine in the past for the Chicago Blackhawks.
After watching a ton of shift-by-shift analysis videos, full WHL matchups, and a look at his skill traits I can confidently say this is a player that should have Kyle Davidson's attention more than some other players. While the common narrative may be to take a bigger RD, or improving physically dominant center, I am here to stake my claim that if the Blackhawks pick in that 2nd-4th range that Berkly Catton would be my pick.