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How Previous Drafts Can Help the Artyom Levshunov – Ivan Demidov Debate

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The debate about whether the Blackhawks should take Ivan Demidov or Artyom Levshunov has only intensified after Demidov’s showcase in Florida on Tuesday. So as the Blackhawks front office sits back and determines precisely what they want.

But history has some interesting tales to tell if we go back a decade or more to see how it’s gone when teams have gone with need over best available. The Blackhawks will choose the latter every time, and maybe that’s ultimately how the puzzle can be pieced together.

But first–a history lesson.

The 2006 Draft Correlates to the Ivan Demidov – Artyom Levshunov Debate

The 2006 Draft featured a can’t miss franchise defenseman in Erik Johnson, who went to the St. Louis Blues  first overall. But hovering near that spot and in the conversation with three other forwards: Jordan Staal (second overall Pittsburgh); Jonathan Toews (third overall to Chicago); and Nicklas Backstrom (fourth overall to Washington).

The latter three all won Cups with their respective team. Johnson? He would be traded to Colorado five years later. But he ultimately was the top choice because the Blues desperately needed to replace Chris Pronger, and he sure as hell looked the part of Pronger. Standing six-foot-four, Johnson sure looked like a cornerstone defenseman to build around.

It didn’t work out as such–and while he found success in Colorado, it wasn’t how the Blues or Johnson expected things to go. Which of course, is how things go more often than fans, analysts, players, and front office members would like to admit. Just looking at the multitude of 2006 re-drafts thanks to hindsight, Johnson falls into the middle of the first round.

With Toews at the top.

What About the 2017 Draft?

The draft known well for the league worst Colorado Avalanche “losing” the lottery and falling to four–only to see them take a generational talent anyway in Cale Makar.

There’s your defenseman. Taken before him? Nico Hischier, Nolan Patrick, and Miro Heiskanen. The third overall pick to Dallas worked out very well. Hischier has been very good for New Jersey. Patrick is out of hockey due to an injury plagued few seasons. At fifth? Elias Petterson.

Read the draft grades and Makar was still a bit of an unknown as to what he would develop into.  But that’s the beauty of hindsight–we can all go back, throw our collective hands up, and wonder what each team was thinking.

So as the debate rages on into its final week, the draft analysts are weighing in. Craig Button has Levshunov as his ninth best prospect, far below the second spot many have the Michigan State defenseman going. Montreal Hockey Now has Levshunov as the Blackhawks choice.

Ivan Demidov in the Hockey Now mock draft went to the Habs, falling three spots from where he’s anticipated.

History has shown that sometimes it’s far more complicated that it appears. Knowing that the Blackhawks took Levshunov to lunch and Demidov to dinner per the Chicago Tribune’s Phil Thompson seems to demystify some of the unknown.

But at the end of the day, the Blackhawks won’t pick for need, no matter how many people think they need another big time defenseman. Kyle Davidson will choose the best player available and has shown that repeatedly in his first two drafts.

June 28th will finally lift the curtain. Until then, even history is split on how it will all play out–both in the short and long term. Whether it’s Ivan Demidov or Artyom Levshunov.

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