Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Blackhawks Reveal Exciting Plan For Artyom Levshunov’s Upcoming Season

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Since the night Artyom Levshunov was drafted No. 2 overall to the Blackhawks, the biggest question about the star defenseman has been about where he’ll play this fall. The 18-year-old was dominant in his freshman season at Michigan State last year and has turned returning to the NCAA ranks into one of his top options. After all, with the recent additions on Chicago’s blue line, he almost certainly won’t make the NHL roster from day one.

But “Arty Party”’s other option may appeal to more Blackhawks fans who want to see him at the game’s top level as soon as possible. Since Levshunov came up through the NCAA ranks rather than the CHL, he’s eligible to play with the AHL IceHogs this season.

When speaking to the media Wednesday morning, Blackhawks assistant GM Mark Eaton certainly hinted at the possibility that they would send him to Rockford this fall.

“If we have the ability to have him in-house and our great development staff in Rockford working with him on a daily basis to start to close that gap between where he is and where he needs to go, it’s only a bonus.”

– Assistant GM Mark Eaton

There’s no question Levshunov could benefit from more time at the collegiate level. Chicago has rushed prospects like Kirby Dach in the past and spending two years in the NCAA has benefitted some of the league’s top players. Despite his impressive size, Levshunov could fill out more with some collegiate training and improve the mental aspects of his game.

However, by sending their top prospect to the AHL, the Blackhawks can take control of his development. He would be the number one priority for the staff in Rockford but also get the chance to play alongside some of Chicago’s most valuable prospects, since there’s a chance players like Kevin Korchinski and Frank Nazar could be pushed out of the NHL lineup. Levshunov could also have the chance to spend more time in hockey with the IceHogs, having more opportunities to play in games and work at the rink.

Perhaps most importantly, if the Blackhawks sent Levshunov to the AHL, he’d only be one call away from the big leagues. They may not want to hamper his development by bringing him up too soon, but there’s certainly a possibility we could see him before the season is over, which is a thrilling idea for a prospect of his caliber.

If Levshunov signed for this season and joined the IceHogs, the Blackhawks could slide his contract to begin next year if he plays fewer than 10 NHL games. That gives them plenty more options, because they could even burn his first contract year if they feel it’s best, just as they did with Lukas Reichel.

While Levshunov would benefit from further development either way, the decision will give the Blackhawks further control as he improves and more options in the future. It certainly sounds as if the star prospect will be headed to the IceHogs, where he’ll be just a call away from the NHL.

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