Connor Bedard may not be there in the 2024 NHL Draft, but Macklin Celebrini, Cole Eiserman and Ivan Demidov sure are. But a name rising to the top? Artyom Levshunov.
The Michigan State defenseman is on the Hobey Baker short list and is also contributing just a point shy of a point-per-game pace. While the Blackhawks are sitting pretty with a blue line that could feature three defenseman 23 and under next season, would they want to create a fortress by adding the 18-year-old native of Belarus?
And he’s only a freshman.
Artyom Levshunov At A Glance
Michigan State University
17 years old (10/28/05)
The Big Ten is known for its hockey prowess, and Levshunov contributing at the rate he does is certainly something to behold. This site, along with other Blackhawks writers, have sung the praises of Michigan and Minnesota with the Hawks prospects flourishing there.
Now it’s the Spartans having one of the most intriguing and likely coveted players of the draft for any team sitting in the top five.
That's a power play marker that beats the clock for Artyom Levshunov! He finishes off the pass from Muller to give MSU a three-goal lead at the intermission. pic.twitter.com/bcSq6OhjOI
— Michigan State Hockey (@MSU_Hockey) February 4, 2024
It’s the release that drew my attention immediately and a short watch of his highlight reel sees the same pattern every time. A wicked snap shot and a high IQ on the offensive side–imagine adding him to the power play.
But would the Hawks take him in the top three?
Will Levshunov Be on the Blackhawks Short List?
Just over 20 years ago, the Blackhawks drafted a Michigan State product on the blue line. He will see his number hanging in the United Center rafters some day. He’ll likely be enshrined in the Hall of Fame, too.
Duncan Keith was drafted much later than Levshunov will be but there’s no denying the talent he brings to the table. So the Blackhawks taking him at two or three would not come as a surprise. As Bob McKenzie’s ratings have him sitting third after another defenseman, the speculation really becomes of who goes where based on who’s picking where.
McKenzie wrote this:
He has some eye-popping NCAA stats of his own (seven goals and 26 points in 24 games) for an 18-year-old freshman who projects as a top-pair NHL blueliner.
“He’s very, very good,” another scout said of Levshunov. “With all the focus on Celebrini and the emergence of the big Russian D [Silayev], Levshunov maybe isn’t getting as much attention as he deserves. If you’re picking in the top three or four this year and need a big top-pair defencemen, you’re laughing.”
But would Kyle Davidson go this route? Smaht Scouting is another site very much on point with prospect analysis and their Josh Tessler wonders if the other side of the ice might keep him out of the top five. Tessler and his staff have him the ninth best prospect available.
While Levshunov has the offensive instincts, will he be able to adequately cover the part of the ice he’s supposed to be partial to?
Sam Rinzel’s game has been similar–an offensive dynamo but still having some work to do in his own end. Kevin Korchinski has been encouraged by the coaching staff to jump up more on the play. He’s been knocked by some analysts and especially a few fans here and there of not being as sound in his own end.
But he’s still been very good this season. Levshunov is a right hand shot who if paired with Alex Vlasic or Ethan Del Mastro would provide quite the punch on the blue line. He checks the boxes that Davidson and director of Amateur Scouting Mike Doneghey look for.
High Hockey IQ? Yep.
Skating Ability? Unbelievably strong.
Work Ethic? He’d be out there with Connor Bedard after practice, waiting for the veterans to chase him off the ice and onto the bus.
Offensive Instincts? Top notch.
So drafting him at third–should they be there in the draft–doesn’t seem too far off. Davidson has gone with the best player available and some bristled when he took Korchinski at seventh in 2022. Few question that now.
Levshunov certainly fits the profile of a future Blackhawks player meshing well with the current young core. It actually makes a lot of sense.
All that’s left is to see where the Blackhawks end up picking.
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