Predicting the Pick Part II: A dynamic defenseman will fall to the Blackhawks at No. 18 in the NHL Draft

The Chicago Blackhawks have multiple chances to land future stars in the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft, and they could both be on the blue line.
Calgary Hitmen v Edmonton Oil Kings
Calgary Hitmen v Edmonton Oil Kings / Jonathan Kozub/GettyImages
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In an ideal world, Zayne Parekh would somehow fall out of the top 10 and nearly out of the top 20 in the NHL Draft, which would allow the Chicago Blackhawks to take him at No. 18. But that’s wishful thinking unless about 10 players raise their stock within the next few days. So when I concocted my one-round, 32-team mock draft to predict who would land where, and Parekh didn’t make it past the Buffalo Sabres.  

Instead, reminiscent of my first seven-round mock draft simulation, Carter Yakemchuk was there for the taking at No. 18. The only difference between that seven-round mock and this most recent mock was that I picked for all 32 teams, and the Artyom Levshunov/Carter Yakemchuk combo just organically worked out. 

Since I already explained my reasoning for rolling with Yakemchuk in that seven-round simulation, it makes little sense to repeat myself. Instead, as I did in my initial Predict the Pick piece, I’ll elaborate more about why I once again projected a defenseman instead of a forward. 

Why the Blackhawks will take a defenseman at No. 18

Even if they go with Artyom Levshunov at No. 2 overall and the ensuing situation plays out similar to my mock draft - admittedly a one-in-a-million scenario - a player like Yakemchuk was the best available, even if taking a forward could make more sense. Given the state of the Blackhawks organization, going with the best available in the second half of the first round is the most logical route instead of reaching for the next-best forward. 

There were some intriguing forwards available like Michael Hage, and if the Blackhawks, as an organization, were in a better place, I would have no qualms with having taken Hage, Emil Hemming, or Lucas Pettersson - who was my second-round pick in that first seven-round mock draft - at No. 18. 

Right now, the Blackhawks must set the stage to build a consistent winner, and part of that foundation is built. But general manager Kyle Davidson must keep building it efficiently, and refusing to go with the second or third-best option at No. 18 wouldn’t help. 

So Carter Yakemchuk will be the locked-in, final answer at No. 18, and it won’t be long before we find out whether the intriguing, two-way blueliner will be wearing a Blackhawks sweater that evening.

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