Earlier int he week, Chicago Hockey Now looked at what the Chicago Blackhawks were working with for the draft lottery. As Monday draws closer, so too, does the speculation.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie listed his top twelve choices in the lottery spots and there were few surprises. The good news there is whether Chicago picks second or fifth, there will be certainly be plentiful options there.
Bob McKenzie's top 12 Lottery edition prospects rankings:
1. Bedard (C)
2. Fantilli (C)
3. Smith (C)
4. Carlsson (C)
5. Michkov (RW)
6. Dvorsky (C)
7. Leonard (RW)
8. Benson (LW)
9. Perreault (LW)
10. Reinbacher (D)
11. Barlow (LW)
12. Wood (RW)
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) May 5, 2023
After Bedard, Two Through Five Could Go A Number of Ways
Bedard is clearly the sure-fire top pick but McKenzie admits that two through five could be anyone’s guess. From there, even with McKenzie’s rankings, it’s anyone’s best guess. As seen at last year’s draft, nothing is for certain.
Chicago needs a top line center to develop but if I’m taking one, I’m looking at Adam Fantilli or Leo Carlsson, giving the latter the slighter nod.
It’s very much a 1A/1B argument concerning Carlsson and Fantilli. The slight advantage to Carlsson is keying in on the league he played in. The 18-year-old had 25 points in 44 games with Orebro of the SHL, along with nine points (1-8) in 13 playoff games. Carlsson is lauded for his hockey IQ, and posting respectable numbers in a professional league is someone to keep an eye on.
Fantilli’s accomplishments are nothing to sneeze at either. The 2023 Hobey Baker Trophy winner as the best collegiate player, Fantilli was a key part of the University of Michigan’s run to the Frozen Four.
Then there’s Will Smith. His name at times has been overlooked by many, but a comparison to Jack Hughes is fair. Smith’s scoring prowess is what places him in the top five and for a team that needs to rebuild its scoring threat, Smith is certainly worth a look. He’s not the same frame as the others, standing at six feet while Carlsson and Fantilli are 6’3 and 6’2 respectively. The size of the respective player truly is situational and can also be overvalued at times. Alex DeBrincat anyone?
But let’s pump the brakes for a moment. Over at Montreal Hockey Now, they used Tankathon to put together a mock draft and chose for every team. The good news? The Blackhawks got a great player. The bad? They ended up fourth, missing out Bedard.
With the Fourth Overall Pick, the Blackhawks Select Matvei Michkov
Michkov devolves from the center-oriented thought process presented above but this is hardly a consolation prize. In fact, many analysts and pundits are talking about how the top four seems pretty locked in for who those players will be.
Michkov is a dynamic scorer and one who could reasonably step in as early as next season. Here’s the problem: it’s a question mark as to when he’ll come over to play in the NHL. Michkov is on the record stating that he will continue to hone his craft in the KHL for now. He added that his dream is to compete in the National Hockey League.
This is likely to scare a few teams who want him to play immediately or at least have him in the system, ready to call over when the time is right. The Blackhawks are one of those few teams that can wait at least a couple seasons, where Michkov will be more than “overripe” for a spot on the team.
Chicago Hockey Now will have more in-depth looks at prospects as we get closer to the draft. With two picks in the first round, there’s certainly a lot of analysis to be had.
But for now as the lottery looms, it seems like no matter where Chicago picks, they’ll come away with a prospect that likely can be a foundational piece.