It is now under 2 weeks until we finally see Connor Bedard be introduced as the #1 pick for the Chicago Blackhawks. While that inevitability has been cemented for some time, it's the other 1st round pick that has garnered alot of atttention of late.
Currently holding the #19 pick (via the Brandon Hagel deal with Tampa Bay) the Blackhawks will have alot of options (due to their draft asset management since Kyle Davidson took over as GM) at their ready. It is easy to say, "use some of the 2nds / 3rds to move up 5-7 spots... However, this is shaping up to be quite an unusual draft class.
Not only do we (my opinion) have 2 franchise altering players in Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli, but up to 4 such players if Matvei Michkov and Leo Carlsson continue their trajectories. These 4 players immediately push amazing prospects like Will Smith, Dalibor Dvorsky, David Reinbacher, Zach Benson, Ryan Leonard, Nate Danielson, Oliver Moore, Matt Wood, and Gabe Perreault to the back half (of the top 10) or even past the top 10 this year.
This spells a little issue for the narrative of "just move up" as these teams drafting in the 5th-13th positions now will be getting players that normally would be selected long before their actual position taken in this draft. So would a team deal with Chicago for the 19th pick for a couple of picks in the 50s or a future 2nd? I don't think so.
I think that Kyle Davidson will find it quite difficult to do so because of the talent available in this class. More likely it would be a move 2-4 spots in the 15-17 range to "leap frog" a team that may be looking at a player we also like. Samuel Honzek and Brayden Yager are two players that are likely targets for Davidson and both could be gone by #19. To guarantee one of them, a move up 2-4 spots would have to happen.
My belief is that the 35th selection, combined with a pick in the 50s (51 or 55) could be an easier trade up and still net us a great player. Colorado, Carolina, and Vegas would be 3 teams I'd try and target to move up a few spots (3-8 spots) and try and select a player that may have been pushed down a few picks due to the talent in the class.
Players I'd like to target if we did move in the late 1st round include Oliver Bonk, Tanner Molendyk, Ethan Gauthier, Gavin Brindley, Otto Stenberg, and Alex Ciernik. I think if we ultimately stick at #19 and #35 we will still select great players that have a lot of potential, however with a little aggression and the right trade partner we could net a player that is in a slightly different tier than the player we would take if we "stayed pat".
Either way, whether we end up with back to back draft classes drafting 3 first rounders or if we just stay as it is, we will walk away with Connor Bedard and his #98 Blackhawks jersey already in the purchase cart... and that means that we are the big winners of the 2023 NHL Draft.