Why the Chicago Blackhawks Must Draft Artyom Levshunov

Convincing reasons why...
Michigan v Michigan State
Michigan v Michigan State / Michael Miller/ISI Photos/GettyImages
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Reasons why the Blackhawks must draft Artyom Levshunov:

1. Positional Need. As a right shot (RD) defenseman, Levshunov represents a clear need when looking at organizational depth. While there are three pairings for the defensive core in the NHL, that would make for an even left side to right side ratio. However, according to Pure Hockey (www.purehockey.com) the NHL listed a "nearly two-to-one ratio of left-handers to right-handed" (players).

In the past five drafts, the players taken in the top ten are vastly important to a team. While there has been a slight edge (two more players on the left side than the right side) to left shot defenders drafted in such a draft range, it is in the next twenty-two picks where there is a significant gap. Simply put, there are very few right shot defensive prospects that qualify as players projected to be impact top pairing players.

2. Size and Physicality. At six foot two and well over two hundred pounds, the eighteen year old uses his frame to create an advantage. Levshunov commonly demonstrated the ability to stand up rushing forwards, win board battles, and engage in any skirmishes. At the moment, this appears to be something the Blackhawks lack on the back end. While there are players that are tough in the organization, the combination of being good enough to log high ice times doesn't always coincide with size and ability.

Michigan v Michigan State
Michigan v Michigan State / Michael Miller/ISI Photos/GettyImages

When considering other players at second overall, the Blackhawks when looking at a player like Ivan Demidov will see a forward of a similar build to many players drafted in recent years. Sam Rinzel, would be the only player highly drafted to compare to Levshunov from a physical standpoint however. Even at that point, Levshunov would show production at a much higher level to pair with a more filled in frame at a likewise draft minus one season (hence Rinzel was drafted in the late first as a long term prospect compared to Levshunov).

3. Winning with Defense. Having won three Stanley Cups in a six year span, Blackhawks' fans know what wins in May and June. The likes of Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Johnny Oduya had a lot to do with Chicago being able to hoist three championship parades after all. Sure Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, and Marian Hossa are (rightfully so) going to receive a ton of credit for these winning years as they are the ones that (mostly) made the scoring plays happen. It's the details though, that lead this publication into thinking that a selection at the back end would be wise. Would these cup-winning forwards gain possession without a key play by a defender, receive a pass in a scoring position without a blue line keep, or be able to create an odd man rush without a defender cutting off the middle of the ice for the opposition's rush attempt?

4. Drafting to Strength. The 2024 draft class is quite strong (in projected top four blue liners) as it appears there will be as many as six defenseman drafted in the top half of the first round. This is uncommon and lends itself into a potential early run as teams try to get one of these six highly thought of players (Levshunov, Silayev, Buium, Yakemchuk, Parekh, and Dickinson). More to the point is that the Blackhawks next select at number twenty overall and it is highly unlikely that any of these prospects will be available then.

It is Blackhawk Up's opinion that these players will likely all be gone by pick number fifteen at the latest. That means, if the Hawks want an impact defender, they need to take one at number two overall. The best on the board at that spot is Artyom Levshunov. A case can be made for Anton Silayev, however as a taller defensive defenseman on the left side his profile likens itself to the nearly extended Alex Vlasic. While not the same player, it would be in the Blackhawks best interest to draft a player with a more clear opening in a position of need. At the moment, only Sam Rinzel is a true right shot defensive prospect with top four projection after all.

5. Future Drafting. This is the one point where it is difficult to be patient. When looking at draft classes, many things can be true. For instance, one can say that the defensive core of prospects in this draft are stronger than the forward class when considering a selection in the top ten picks. It can also be true though that say a Berkly Catton will show that he was a better pick than a Zeev Buium. While that remains to be seen, like most drafts, there will be hits and misses for players that are perceived to be "can't miss" prospects.

The upcoming drafts, while we all hope the Blackhawks are winning more in the years to come, present some intriguing forwards. The likes of Gavin McKenna, Porter Martone, Anton Frondell, James Hagens, Michael Misa, Roger McQueen, and Ryan Roobroeck are already making headlines as forwards to be drafted highly in the next two drafts. While there a few defensive prospects showing such promise (as these forwards) the common theme when looking through future casts of drafts is that there are only two to three defenders (at the moment) that look like top ten selections over the 2025 and 2026 drafts. This in turn should make a general manager of a rebuilding team look more heavily at defenders in the current draft.

What will Kyle Davidson ultimately decide?