In the inaugural version of Blackhawks Two Truths and a Lie, there a number of things that could or could not happen and here’s a creative way to tackle some of those questions being asked as the Draft is barely a month away.
There will be many stories as June 28th approaches, but here’s an unofficial kickoff to Chicago Hockey Now’s draft coverage.
Truth: Despite Picking First, the Blackhawks are Still Very Much in a Rebuild
It’s been alluded to before in some previous works here and other analysts have chimed in on this, too. Every fan should be energized by the Blackhawks winning the first overall pick. It gives them the chance to speed up the rebuild–which is the key phrase. Next season likely acclimates a couple prospects: Connor Bedard, who will be taken first overall and potentially Kevin Korchinski.
This is as close to the 2007-08 Blackhawks as you can get–but general manager Kyle Davidson will have to add some veterans and other players in to nudge them along. It’s of course, the tricky part of the rebuild accelerating. Davidson will walk the line of not rushing things along too quickly while not dragging it out for too long.
The Blackhawks will see some of their younger players up this season on full time status–Lukas Reichel immediately comes to mind. Head coach Luke Richardson did a heck of a job in the face of a roster that was designed to not win too much. Now he’ll be tasked with developing the young talent that is ready.
Painful rebuild–no. But still a rebuild–yes.
Truth: A Trade to Pick Again in the Top Ten Isn’t as Easy as It Sounds
Here’s where it can split hairs. It is incredibly difficult, especially now, to trade up in the draft into the top ten. Teams are so hesitant to deal picks, even contenders, who now make their first round picks loaded with contingencies. The most prominent top ten deal in the last 25 years was when Vancouver drafted the Sedin twins with the second and third picks respectively. Pre-Cap Era was far more common. Once the Cap Era started, it became a lot tougher.
Since then, you’re hard pressed to find a team willing to deal away a top-ten pick, unless if involves a player. The Blackhawks did it last year with Alex DeBrincat. But do they have another player to bundle with a pick to move up? That’s the only way they move back into the top ten. The Tampa Bay pick is too far down without a few more to move up significantly.
Beyond that, and unless it’s the deal of a lifetime, how many teams are going to do something to help out Chicago? It’s not personal–but they’re already getting the chance to grab a generational player. Why give them another high percentage chance of getting second impact player?
It’s not to say it can’t be done, but it certainly will be a lot trickier than some think it’ll be.
Lie: The Blackhawks 7 Draft Picks Through Pick #67 Will Load Up The War Chest
It’s not an all out lie, but it’s certainly quasi. Davidson should be lauded for accumulating as many picks as he has, having seven spins at the prospect wheel through the first 70 picks. Now, here’s where it gets dicey. Dobber Prospects did a piece a few years back where they broke down the likelihood of a prospect making the NHL with a minimum of 99 games. As expected, there’s a large drop after the first round.
Only 17.2% of second-round picks played over 99 games in the league. Third-round picks falls to 13.7%. It falls to single digits by the fifth round. So the lesson here? Going back to the previous truth, if an opportunity arises and it costs a first and several seconds, do it.
Yes, you want multiple options but the further a team goes into the draft, the less likely that draft pick sees the big club. Yes, there are exceptions. But it’s the outlier, the anomaly. The Blackhawks are sitting pretty with a number of prospects, and certainly, those nestled closer to the first round should certainly be spent on prospects who are first-round talents that slipped.
But there’s also that 82.8% chance they play a handful of games. Davidson had a successful 2022 draft under his belt. He certainly deserves the benefit of the doubt. But if the chance to grab a battle tested NHL player who is 25 or younger, (DeBrincat anyone?), shuffling those picks to a willing team might yield a decent payoff, too.