The season is underway, the Blackhawks roster has been set, and Chicago's prospects have been sent to their respective teams... That doesn't mean that Kyle Davidson and his staff aren't scouting early for the next draft.
I am under the belief that you should always draft the best player possible when your slot comes up. This is something that (through 2 drafts) Kyle Davidson also very clearly believes in as well. It seems obvious that every GM should do this, but as we know with Stan Bowman that isn't always the case. In my opinion many times our prior GM bypassed the clear choice on the board for a player that was distinctly going to be chosen later. This doesn't mean that the players that were taken are / were bad players, however you could argue every selection that the "clear" choice has performed better to this date than said drafted player.
Speaking of best player available, I know that there is a clear top 3 and even a top 5 that is getting set as we speak for the 2024 draft. Macklin Celebrini is the headliner and rightfully so. Already in the NCAA as a draft eligible Celebrini looks the part of a #1 center at the NHL level. Ivan Demidov should be the #2 ranked prospect as the winger has displayed true game breaking skill against top tier competitors in Russia (bouncing between KHL - MHL for SKA much like Michkov did). Last season at age 16 Demidov averaged over 1.5 points per game in the MHL. Let that sink in, it's an unbelievable accomplishment.
After those two elite forwards it will likely be goal scorer Cole Eiserman. He, like Celebrini, is bound to be an Eagle (just a season later). Young for the class Eiserman has already established himself as a true goal scorer. There is little reason to doubt this skill trait won't translate to the levels ahead. This should make his draft position set in the top 3 or 4.
The next 2 I see as likely top 5 selections are Berkly Catton and Sam Dickinson. Catton doesn't have the size that some prospects do (5-11, 163lb) however he has been producing at a high clip in the WHL since last season. Dickinson on the other hand is quickly being identified as the #1 defensive prospect in the class. A two-way blue liner, Dickinson looks the part from a size, frame, and skill perspective. He can take on a team's best line, make the hard passes, or even contribute on an offensive zone rush. I do not see him escaping a top 5 selection after what I've seen so far.
In terms of where the Blackhawks will draft (we also have Tampa Bay's 1st round selection) it is simply too early to tell. If they draft in the 6-10 range as many have predicted there are a few prospects I'd like to highlight. When it comes to what the Hawks have / don't have in terms of their balance in the pipeline it's clear to me they may be slightly deficient in top 4 defenseman. Certainly Kevin Korchinksi (and in my view Alex Vlasic) headlines the group and yet I see alot of the other prospects as players that are destined for either bottom pairing or guys that will simply be complementary. I hope I'm wrong on this, but I do standby my belief that a 1st round selection in the next draft will be made to add in a potential top 4 defenseman.
Of the ones that could be selected in that 6-10 range I'm focusing on Henry Mews. The Ottawa 67s right shot defender has decent size, can really skate, and has produced at a young age in the OHL (35 points in 59 games). His outlook is bright and I really think he fits what the Blackhawks need.
Adam Jiricek is the second defender that I think Chicago should be identifying as a potential fit. The brother of Blue Jackets prospect David Jiricek, Adam also sports a larger frame (already 6-2, 180lbs) and a right shot. Playing for HZ Plzen in the Czechia league, it should get him ready for tough play going against experienced players.
A couple of forwards to single out that may go inside the top ten that could be targets are Konsta Helenius, Maxim Masse, and Beckett Sennecke. Some pundits have them in the mid to late first, but I see them as potential risers as the seasons progress.
To recap: IF we select inside the top 3 I believe we would select Celebrini - Demidov - Eiserman as those are the clear cut top 3 talents this draft. If we are picking 4th or 5th I see Catton and Dickinson as the players seperating themselves at the moment.
If we pick in the 6-10 range there are 5 players I'm looking at with Henry Mews and Adam Jiricek standing out followed by Konsta Helenius, Maxim Masse, and Beckett Sennecke. There are a host of other forwards and defenders (Aron Kiviharju notably) to debate as well, but in this early juncture I am focusing on these ten prospects for the Chicago Blackhawks.