Nick Lardis and other OHL Blackhawks Prospects are Playing Well

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Hamilton Bulldogs v Windsor Spitfires
Hamilton Bulldogs v Windsor Spitfires / Dennis Pajot/GettyImages
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Playing for his 2rd OHL team, Nick Lardis has taken his game to a new level of late. The Brantford Bulldog (formerly Hamilton) has an oustanding 25 goals (37 points) in just 29 contests so far this season. In 2021 the Peterborough Petes selected Lardis with the 6th pick in the OHL draft. This was over future 1st rounders like Colby Barlow, Oliver Bonk, and Easton Cowan. His time with Peterborough had high expectations that were met with mixed results as the talented forward only netted 56 points in 99 contests.

It was the trade to Hamilton that changed everything for Lardis and his draft outlook. From a high OHL pick and a potential 1st round pick to a late round flyer in a year and half, it was the trade that changed everything for the young speedster. Lardis took full advantage of his new surroundings and shot out of the gates and finished with 25 goals (46 points) in 33 matchups for the Bulldogs. That makes 50 goals in 62 games since the trade. The fact that the Blackhawks got him at the top of the 3rd round (67th overall) is outstanding value for Kyle Davidson and his staff.

Lardis isn't the only Blackhawks prospect playing well in the OHL though. Gavin Hayes has seen his stock raised as he again is is producing for the Flint Firebirds with 36 points in 27 games. The 6'1 LW has gotten better each season with Flint and the expectation is that next season Hayes could see a move to Rockford with the Icehogs (Hayes turns 20 May 14th of 2024).

Gavin Hayes
Flint Firebirds v Windsor Spitfires / Dennis Pajot/GettyImages

Paul Ludwinski, a 2nd round pick by the Blackhawks, is now averaging above a point per game for the first time in his career with Kingston. Once a player just viewed as a solid 2C behind Shane Wright, Ludwinski has 30 points in 26 matchups. Ludwinski looks the part of a dependable two way 200ft 3C if he reaches his ceiling in my opinion.

Paul Ludwinski
Kingston Frontenacs v Peterborough Petes / Claus Andersen/GettyImages

At the end of the 2nd round the Blackhawks took Slovakian Martin Misiak. The RW has great size at 6'2 and nearly 200lbs already and his move to the OHL (Erie Otters) has shown that the forward can score in a variety of ways. With 13 goals (26 points) the 19 year old is just under a point per to start his OHL career.

Martin Misiak
St Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

While it's early days, these 4 forwards in the OHL are showing signs that could lead them one day to the Blackhawks roster. Nick Lardis in particular has a speed and skill aspect to his game that seems to go hand in hand with how GM Kyle Davidson talks about what he is looking for when putting together the NHL roster. Much like Frank Nazar and Oliver Moore (much higher drafted players), Lardis has the skill traits that typically translate to todays modern NHL.

Time will tell if any of these prospects are long term fits in the NHL with Chicago, but the early returns are encouraging.