Why it is important the Chicago Blackhawks traded up so soon in the first round of the 2024 NHL Draft

They made a deal with the New York Islanders to move up two spots with the first-round pick they held from Tampa.
2022 NHL Draft - Round One
2022 NHL Draft - Round One / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

Over a month before the start of the 2024 NHL Draft, Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson has already upgraded one of his first-round picks.

According to the team’s social media, the Blackhawks acquired the 18th and 50th overall selections from the New York Islanders in exchange for the 20th, 54th, and 61st picks. It is certainly a bit odd for teams to be making trades like this so far in advance of the draft. What is clear is Davidson felt the player or group of players he was targeting at the 20th slot would not be available then, and he wanted to ensure he was in prime position to select one of them.

When Davidson knows what he wants, he does his best to get it.

This was evident last summer when a report came out that he desperately tried to move up in the first round to select Oliver Moore. Fortunately, he fell to the Hawks at 19 and looks like a core piece of the rebuild. There are several prospects the Hawks could select around the 18th to 20th range, including Liam Greentree, Adam Jiricek, Sacha Boisvert, and Igor Chernyshov.

Some fans may feel the Hawks gave up too much to move up two spots in the first round and four in the second. But the difference between the 18th and 20th picks could be as large as the difference between Thomas Harley (Dallas) and Ville Heinola (Winnipeg).

Harley was the 18th pick in the 2019 Draft and is now a top-pair defenseman on a conference finalist. Heinola, also a defenseman, was selected 20th in 2019 and has only appeared in 35 NHL Games. Moreover, before this trade, the Hawks had three second-round picks to play with, so losing one isn’t as big of a blow for them as it would be for a team in need of prospects.

Thus far, Davidson has proven he knows what he is doing with his middle to late first-round picks (Moore, Frank Nazar, Sam Rinzel), so Blackhawks fans can rest easy and trust the team will select a player at 18 who can contribute to the franchise’s bright future.