Monday, April 22, 2024

Two Weeks From The NHL Draft Lottery, Blackhawks Await Their Fate


The moment Blackhawks fans waited for throughout nearly the entire 2022-23 season and through the beginning of this offseason is now only two weeks away. On Monday, May 8th, hockey fans of every non-playoff team will tune in to ESPN to watch a hopper full of ping pong balls decide their team’s fate for potentially the next decade.

The Chicago Blackhawks and their fans find themselves in a similar scenario. As a team that underwent a complete rebuild throughout the past year, the team now finds itself positioned in the third lottery slot, just behind the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets. Thus, they’re guaranteed a pick in the top five. Plus, by then they may know where they’ll be situated for their second pick in the first round, which they acquired from the Tampa Bay Lightning. That pick could be as high as 17th overall, depending on how deep they go into the Stanley Cup Playoffs. As fans of a rebuilding team, it’s nearly impossible not to look ahead to an event like the lottery.

#1 Pick

The Blackhawks, while sitting third to the bottom of the standings, have an 11.5% chance of landing the top pick. That pick would be used on Connor Bedard, the 17-year-old prodigy dubbed the “future of hockey”. There’s nothing to be said about Bedard that hasn’t already been echoed a hundred times. He’s a special player. He instantly turns an offensive line into a powerhouse. If Chicago gets its hands on the top pick, they won’t overthink it.

#2 Pick

Chicago also has a decent chance to get its hands on the second overall pick, at 11.2%. Again, there won’t be any messing around if they get the pick, and they’ll use it on forward Adam Fantilli. He won the Hobey Baker Award this season, but it didn’t take a trophy to see that he was the best player in college hockey while at Michigan. He has a unique mix of speed, skill, and size which will secure him the second overall spot. Plus, teams like the Blackhawks will get an even closer look at him as he competes for Team Canada in the men’s World Hockey Championship throughout the month of May.

#3 Pick

Despite being slotted third in the draft, the Blackhawks only have a 7.8% chance at the third pick. If they did end up with the selection, however, they would likely have to choose between Leo Carlsson and Matvei Michkov. Most teams will end up rolling with Carlsson. Michkov is a tremendous talent that may have the highest potential of any prospect, but he won’t be able to come to the U.S. for at least three years, and he may not end up coming over at all. On the other hand, Carlsson is a great skater in his own right who will make an immediate impact wherever he goes.

#4 Pick

The Blackhawks’ highest odds are for the fourth pick, at 39.7%. If the other three players were off the board, and Michkov was still there, the team would end up taking him. Obviously, his floor is the lowest, as he could never set foot on NHL ice. However, if he can eventually join the Hawks, he can be a franchise winger for years to come.

#5 Pick

If Chicago ends up with the fifth pick, they’ll surely be disappointed, and they have a 29.8% chance to do so. It seems in this draft that the top four are in a tier of their own, but if the Blackhawks pick fifth, they will still end up with a very good player in Will Smith. Smith, who is generally accepted to go after those first four, is the top American prospect this year. His game centers around his speed and puck handling, as he’s a flashy player who consistently burns defenders. His decision-making is a work in progress, and his game may be tempered a bit when he matches up with NHL players that skate just as well as he does. Nevertheless, even if the Blackhawks pick fifth, they’re still ending up with a solid player who should make a big impact.

In just two short weeks, the future of the Chicago Blackhawks may be decided by a bunch of ping-pong balls. It’s obvious that we all want the number one pick, but in this class, any of the top five should be able to get this franchise back to championship contention. The Blackhawks “worked hard” for this opportunity, and the front office won’t let it go to waste.

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