Friday, June 28, 2024

Blackhawks Trade Up To Select Another Winger At No. 27 Overall


Just when everyone thought the Blackhawks’ night one of the NHL Draft was over, the new “trade buzzer” sounded in the Sphere to announce that Chicago was back on the clock. The Blackhawks moved back into the first round to No. 27 overall without having to pay too much, giving up No. 34 and No. 50 in return to the Hurricanes.

With the No. 27 pick, GM Kyle Davidson announced the next Blackhawk in winger Marek Vanacker. The Canadian winger was highly productive with the Brantford Bulldogs in the OHL last season, logging 82 points in 68 games. He’s a young 18 with a birthday in April, but boasts solid size at six feet tall. He was projected to be taken at the end of the first round or beginning of the second round.

Vanacker’s best asset on the ice is his mind. He’s a highly intelligent two-way forward who excels at recognizing changes of possession before they happen. As a result, he’s constantly seen on breakaways and odd-man rushes, and even scores plenty of shorthanded goals (five last season). Vanacker profiles as a great complementary winger, creating great opportunities for his teammates.

It’s a stretch given that Vanacker isn’t quite NHL-ready, but the young forward could eventually serve as a great winger for Connor Bedard. It’s no secret that the face of the Blackhawks is somewhat lacking defensively, and a forward who has a great sense of when to get back to cover on defense would pair well with him. He’s great at finding his teammates to score, which is just what Bedard needs. Again, envisioning Vanacker as an eventual top-line forward is certainly a stretch, but it doesn’t hurt to dream.

Vanacker is coming off of shoulder surgery due to a torn labrum and says he’s just started rehabilitating, but everything is going according to plan.

“It’s coming together well.”

– Marek Vanacker

Vanacker represents the Blackhawks’ eighth first-round pick in the last three years. At the end of the day, it’s a great sign that Davidson made the decision to pick up another first-rounder. The beginning of Chicago’s rebuild was about quantity, picking up as many prospects as possible. Now, though, it’s become evident that the Blackhawks have plenty of talent in their pipeline and can’t hold too much more. Packaging second-rounders to get players who they feel are first-round talents is a sign that Chicago’s long-term, young roster is almost complete.

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