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Rebuild Report: Blackhawks First Draft With Kyle Davidson

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The Chicago Blackhawks 2022 Draft was the first for Kyle Davidson, who shed the interim label and was now officially the general manager for the organization.

Chicago Hockey Now completes the Rebuild Report series with Davidson’s first draft with a different look since it’s not even a year old.

Below is the graph from the Dobber Prospects piece  that focuses on the success of draft picks by round in the draft.  With three first-round picks last season, Davidson was certainly pushing hard to play the percentages.

Photo from Dobber Prospects – 5/16/20 article by Jokke Nevalainen

 

Chicago Blackhawks 2022 Draft Primer

The Blackhawks completely turned the page with Stan Bowman resigning and Jeremy Colliton fired. Davidson started stripping the organization down to the studs, and opted to do a full rebuild, knowing the process would take time but certainly be one that had to be done with fidelity.

Davidson had no first-round picks going into the day of the draft before he swung deals to grab the seventh, 13th, and 25th overall picks. His draft was more forward heavy, but his first five picks mirrored the 2021 Draft–a hodgepodge of centers and defensemen.

In the final version, CHN will bundle the draft rounds as many of the players have been written about often. This piece will seek to try and analyze more how Davidson selected players when he had 11 draft picks to choose from.

First Round

7th – Kevin Korchinski (D); 13th – Frank Nazar (C); 25th – Sam Rinzel (D)

Stanley Cup champions win with a strong defensive corps and being solid down the middle. Davidson addressed both, sandwiching the University of Michigan center Frank Nazar between Korchinski and Rinzel. The first six picks only saw Montreal and Philadelphia deter from this strategy, taking left wings. Following the Blackhawks choice of Korchinski, it wouldn’t be until the 14th pick that anything but a center or defenseman would be taken.

Davidson zeroed in on Korchinski early, telling Sportsnet’s Elliotte Freidman that the Alex DeBrincat trade was specifically made to get the chance to select him.

So far, it looks like the smart move as Korchinski had a terrific season with Seattle and was a member of the Memorial Cup runner up Thunderbirds. Nazar would be the start of four centers Davidson would take while Rinzel would be the eighth defenseman taken in the draft, showing just how much stock was being placed on the blue line by NHL teams. The 6’4 defenseman would put up 36 points (9-27) in 58 games with the Waterloo Black Hawks of the USHL and if it all falls right, could be the natural pairing on the right side for Korchinski.

Second Round

39th – Paul Ludwinski (C); 57th – Ryan Greene (C)

The trend here for the three centers Davidson took through his first five picks would be speed. Nazar, Ludwinski, and Greene were all consistently scouted as being great skaters but beyond that, great skating on both ends of the ice. This clues in that the players Davidson seeks down the middle are centers who play on both ends of the ice.

Third Round

66th – Gavin Hayes (LW); 81st – Samuel Savoie (LW); 90th – Aidan Thompson (C)

Savoie and Hayes are both goal scorers, with the former seeing an eight goal increase and 23 point jump from his previous season–in four less games. Hayes tore up the OHL with a 32 point jump, 41 being goals.  Savoie is a great skater, a similar thread running through the forwards that Davidson drafted. Hayes is more of rough and tough nosed forward who will forecheck until the opponent is exhausted. He may not have the speed that the other prospects have, but he has a nose for the goal and will find ways to make plays happen. Thompson’s compete level is what analysts and pundits drool over. He finished his first season with the University of Denver, and showcased the tenacity and hard nosed play that got him drafted by the Blackhawks.

Though he’s not the “speedster” of previous picks, Thompson’s tough nosed play is what has been similar with players like Hayes and later on, James and and Juntorp.

Sixth Round

173rd – Dominic James (C); 188th – Nils Juntorp (RW)

The Blackhawks didn’t pick again for three rounds and Davidson stayed with forwards with speed. James’ bio with Minnesota speaks to his skating, which goes in line with what Davidson has sought out with his forwards. Juntorp is in the mold of Hayes and Thompson, sporting the high compete level, ferocious forechecking, and fearlessness on the ice.

Seventh Round

199th – Riku Tohila (C)

Only played five games last season. Definitely a wait and see as a seventh round pick.

2022 Draft By The Numbers and Final Thoughts

  • Draft by position:
  • Centers – 6
  • Left Wing – 2
  • Right Wing – 1
  • Defensemen – 2

Davidson went heavy with defensemen in the first round, opting to take his big swings on the blue line in the round that traditionally reaps the highest percentage of success. From there, he went heavy on strong skating, two-way centers with high IQ. Flanking those centers he leaned toward higher scoring, tenacious players who had a nose for the goal.

In short, Davidson seems to value high hockey IQ above anything else, and with a boatload of picks this draft, it will be interesting to see if the strategy changes. Connor Bedard is already a center off the list, which only makes the 19th pick more intriguing. Will he go for the wing again? Will he try to shore up the blue line even more?

Kyle Davidson seems to be leaning in the way of building his forwards around speed and high hockey IQ. His defenseman bigger, puck moving and also having a good grasp of the ice and where to be.

How will we he complement these picks in just over a week?

Previous Rebuild Report Draft Pick Series: 2015 Draft – Swing and a Miss | 2016 Draft – Delightfully Drafting DeBrincat |   2017 Draft – Trading to only Trade It Away Later | 2018 Draft – Boqvist Goes Eighth | 2019 Draft – Dach Instead of Defense | 2020 Draft – Mid Round Surprises  | 2021 – Bowman’s Last Stand

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