Entering last draft, the Chicago Blackhawks had zero selections in the first round. Kyle Davidson moved Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, and weaponized his cap space to move up to select Sam Rinzel. That's 3 first round selections by being ultra aggressive and having a plan in place to start over.
I expect the same gameplan going into the 2023 draft. We own our 1st this year as well as Tampa Bays' first round selection from the Brandon Hagel deal. Over the next 6 weeks before the March 3rd trade deadline I'm hoping that a contender deals for Jake McCabe by giving up their 2023 1st round selection as well. That would make for an incredible 6 1st round picks in 2 years.
This is, of course, not a guarantee that we will be a great team stocked full of A level talent in a few seasons... Kyle Davidson has to hit on these players after all. The early returns for Kevin Korchinski are outstanding. He looks like a future Blackhawks' #1 defensiveman. Frank Nazar has been hurt, but should have a good jump on next season at Michigan. Sam Rinzel has played well again for Waterloo and then will move on to a STACKED Minnesota team (Oliver Moore / Cole Eiserman are commits as well).
Most often we talk about Connor Bedard and why not! He is a generational talent and it's just fun to "dream". However, the true reality is that our lottery ticket will likely not fall our way. I've gone into depth now on Fantilli, Carlsson, Michkov, Smith, Dvorsky, and Benson as I see that group as more of a future Blackhawk pool than "just Bedard, no one else" mantra many fans seem to have taken of late.
Right now I'd like to dive into the Tampa Bay pick. Look, they are amazing. They have been to 3 straight finals and have the best goalie in the world. If there was ever a time to cheer for the Toronto Maple Leafs it's now for Hawks' fans. We need them to make a big move and defeat the Bolts in round 1 (I believe there is a really good chance of them playing in the 1st round again) in order to improve our draft position.
If the Leafs can do this, then we may have a chance at a player that could become a future top 6 / top 4 player for Chicago in 4-5 years. Oliver Moore of the USDP is a center that is sky rocketing up boards of late. At the 2023 Biosteel All-American game he actually opened the scoring with a beautful top shelf goal. His skating is legit and he projects as an exciting breakaway speed center. I wouldn't be surprised if he gets drafted as high as the 8-12 range, but if he makes it to the mid first I could see Davidson moving up for him.
Brayden Yager is in the same range as Moore. Wearing a letter for Moose Jaw now, Yager has a wrist shot that has become one of this draft classes' best. He will likely go in that 9-14 range, but I could see Chicago having him on their short list.
Players in that 15-25 range that we should target include: Nate Danielson, Oliver Bonk, Ryan Leonard, Sam Honzek, Otto Stenberg, Matthew Wood, and Calum Ritchie. It's these guys I see as players that would really peak Kyle Davidson as a second 1st round selection.
This draft after around 14-16 it is going to come down to preference. Some teams right now will say Oliver Bonk is going to be a top 4 defensiveman and would take him say 18th and I bet some teams don't see it and say he is more like a pick around 40th. That's how good this group is though. I've counted between 42-44 guys I want to give a 1st round grade to. For instance, last year I only had 23 players I thought were top 6 / top 4 graded in my view.
If we don't get into the top 4 and get say Zach Benson and Davidson moves a 2nd to move up to grab an Oliver Moore than this will be an A+ draft. He needs to stick to his aggressive game plan and continue to add skill and speed, something this draft has plenty of. I'm beyond excited to see how the draft unfolds, but remember it's not all about Connor Bedard.