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2024 NHL Draft Prospects

Brown: Rest Assured Blackhawks Fans, Kyle Davidson and His Plan is Already Working

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LAS VEGAS – After a third year of running a draft, the clock begins ticking on a general manager’s  when high picks are involved. So for Kyle Davidson and the Blackhawks, his odds are pretty good so far.

2022 picks Kevin Korchinski and Frank Nazar have both logged NHL games: Korchinski an entire season under his belt while Nazar has three games. But Nazar seems a candidate to be on the opening night roster with Korchinski and Connor Bedard–three players of the eight selected in the first round. Better yet–Davidson has a hit rate of 60% when you take the first two drafts into account.

Now, one of those “hits” is Bedard, who is a generational talent. But so far so good.

But there’s still a ways to go.

Kyle Davidson Was Aggressive Throughout the Draft

The Athletic’s Scott Powers and Mark Lazerus both confirmed that an earlier tweet from TSN’s Pierre LeBrun was in fact very true. There was even more to it.

The Blackhawks, according to Powers and Lazerus, would have selected Demidov with the fourth overall pick if they were able to pry it away. Included with it would have been the Blackhawks 2025 first-round pick without protection as well as a second-round pick. For those fans concerned that Demidov wasn’t considered as he should have been–that’s the indicator he absolutely was. It’s just that the Blackhawks only had one pick and they valued Levshunov higher.

So why Levshunov and not Demidov?

“I just think the total package,” Davidson said.  “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, it was just so intriguing and something we really felt that would just make us a much better organization.”

The toughest part of a rebuild is the wait–like anything in life. There’s all this promise of what could be and there are absolutely no guarantees. So the Blackhawks plan of speedy, high scoring, big time hockey IQ guys is all well and good. But there’s a possibility it doesn’t work out–and Davidson is fully aware of that, too.

“We’ll see if we’re right,” Davidson said.  “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.”

Control the Operative Word Because Failure Is Always Possible

Perusing social media saw a divide on the Levshunov pick, with some fans agitated they didn’t take Demidov while others were aggravated by the negativity. Look, there’s value at both and each side of the fanbase has their collective opinion–and both should be heard. This debate likely exists in the Blackhawks war room, with scouts and front office executives all weighing in on who–or what–is the best option.

It’s Davidson’s job, though, to make that final call.

From the onset, Kyle Davidson has been aggressive, getting into the first-round three times when he started the job back in 2022. He made the call to trade away Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach to net critical picks. Those are not easy decisions to make because if you’re wrong, it not only puts a dent into “the plan.” It damages trust and the confidence of the fans.

Throughout his process, Davidson has shown patience when needed–and been aggressive when something suits the team well. So when the Blackhawks opted to go for Levshunov over Demidov, it was based on the whole package–which is unbelievably important to the entire build of a roster.

Not everyone will hit and Davidson will be the first to tell you that. Some won’t be offered contracts. Others may be used in trades to bolster by then, what will be a roster built to compete deep into the playoffs. But the hit rate so far has been positive.

The draft is not a perfect science–and a simple look at who hits versus who was projected to hit is damning for many teams. The most important aspect is that the can’t miss picks must hit. Without exception. How is that defined? Top 10–perhaps top 15 at the furthest.

So by those metrics set, Davidson has Korchinski, Nazar, Bedard, and Levshunov in that range. Of those four, two have logged over 60 games and one looks ready for next year. The final one was just selected. If Levshunov is in the League this year, that’s quite the clip in a three-year time frame.

So if there’s wailing and gnashing of the teeth with the draft strategy, there need not be. Where Davidson has to be as close to perfect, he’s pretty damn close. The rest will sort itself out as it should.

“Like I said last night, we’re not naive enough to think everyone is going to play, so we’re looking for certain things that we like,” Director of Amateur Scouting Mike Doneghey said.  “Skating we won’t look the other way on, as you guys know. And they’re not all going to play at once. They’ll determine who plays and who doesn’t play.”

Davidson positioned the Blackhawks to pick as high as often, which only increases the odds for success. Free agency and trades still beckon, and need to be used as well to bolster the team.

But for those complaining about the draft, it’s misguided. So far, Kyle Davidson has done well for himself–and the organization.

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