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First Round Rundown Sees Aggresiveness, Cohesiveness in the Blackhawks Vision

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LAS VEGAS – Sure there’s going to be some howling from the fans. It’s not a draft of any kind if fans of any team–including the Chicago Blackhawks–don’t like at least one of the picks.

So when Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson moved up to grab Marek Vanacker by sending off his 34th and 50th picks tomorrow to get Carolina for its 27th overall pick, it was obvious that he saw something he wanted.

Which seemed to be the theme of what the Blackhawks have been doing for the last three drafts since Davidson took over.

“It’s very cliche to say we targeted all these guys that we wanted but it’s very much true,” Davidson said of having eight picks in three drafts. “After year one, I thought OK we can’t get all the guys we wanted, and then last year we got all the guys we wanted and then this year I thought there’s no way it’s going to work out again, and it just did.”

There’s likely a number of Blackhawks fans who bristled at that statement–especially those who thought the Hawks overreached at 18 and then again at 27. Oh, and should have picked Ivan Demidov with the second overall pick. 

But Davidson doesn’t hold any illusions, either.

“We’ll see if we’re right,” Davidson admitted.  “I’m not saying we’ve got this all figured out but just to set a plan in motion and then to be able to execute on that plan when so much of it is out of your control is really exciting.”

The Vision for the Blackhawks Is Clear–Now We See If It Works Out

Groupthink isn’t the objective here, either. Director of Amateur Scouting Mike Doneghey was specifically asked about the dynamic of the group and how there’s a balance in maintaining the vision of the organization but remembering that they won’t always be right. The key though, as it is for all organizations, is taking advantage of every opportunity to make sure they’re not wrong. That’s with trusting the voices in the room, but also getting a balanced approach out there.

“We just don’t know what’s going to happen in the future as far as anything– moves, trades, free agency, whatever. We’re just going year to year, building up our prospect pool, and we’ll let them figure it out. Kyle again alluded they’re not all going to make it. He’s just trying to enhance the odds–getting more picks especially higher picks to give ourselves a better chance. The kids will determine who plays and who doesn’t.”

So here’s a few snippets about those kids and how they play into that vision. Nope, they may not all hit, but eight first-round picks in three drafts gives the Blackhawks a chance to try and develop that talent they’ve drafted.

On Artyom Levshunov

Doneghey says: “You see the way he skates and the size, for a big guy to get around the ice that well, and he’s very puck friendly and he’s ultra competitive. He just continued to take the steps.”

Says Davidson: “I just think the total package. Offensively, he can drive offense, he can skate, he’s super mobile, he’s got good size, he’s aggressive, he’s a physical defender and we just think there’s more upside to come and so just the package as well as the potential growth left to come is.”

On Sacha Boisvert

Davidson: “He put up some good numbers in the USHL which is traditionally not the easiest league to put offense up in and then just the physical package, you see him and there’s so much room to fill out, so much room for growth, he plays with a real edge and real physicality and so there’s a lot of appeal around both the offensive aside and the abrasiveness that he plays with.”

Doneghey: “Long body, ultra competitive… He boxes in the summer. His father owns a gym. He plays on the edge, but he also had 36 goals in that league. If you look back at the Kyle Connors and the Brock Boesers and those guys, those are similar numbers to what he had. He’s got size down the middle, he can skate, he’s good on faceoffs and he’s another fantastic kid.”

On Marek Vanacker

Davidson: “With Marek, I think you watch his game and he plays so hard. He gets his nose into every battle, he’s not afraid, scores greasy goals. And I believe his game is extremely translatable to the pro level. I think he could play that way at any level, and have an impact.”

Doneghey: “He controls the play, controls the puck, ultra competitive and he can score. Put into a lesser role when Nick came back but going forward he’s going to be a really good player.”

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