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2024 NHL Draft Preview: IceHogs Application

Draft Day2 20230629 092

Pictured: Blackhawks General Manager Kyle Davidson

2023 was a watershed draft for the Chicago Blackhawks after the arrival of superstar Connor Bedard with the first overall pick. In 2024, the Hawks hold the second overall selection in the draft along with seven other picks to continue building for the future, and several of those Chicago draftees will likely find their way to the Stateline on their journey to the NHL. Since the IceHogs began play in 1999, 112 Blackhawks draft picks have played in Rockford. The 2024 draft likely contains multiple future IceHogs and future difference makers for the Hogs.

2024 Chicago Blackhawks Draft Picks (as of article creation)

No. 2 Overall Pick

It is extremely unlikely that Chicago's 2023 first overall pick Connor Bedard ever sees the AHL, but it is not out of the question that the Hawks' second overall pick in 2024 ever laces up his skates for the IceHogs. Since the 1980 NHL Entry Draft, 19 of the 44 second overall draft picks have played at least one game in the AHL or IHL, although only 12 of those 19 appeared for the affiliate of the team that drafted them. While the odds might indicate that the No. 2 overall pick won't spend much time in Rockford, there is recent evidence that bucks the trend. New Jersey's 2022 second overall draft choice Simon Nemec spent the entire 2022-23 season with the AHL' s Utica Comets and split the 2023-24 season between the Devils and the Comets. The Los Angeles Kings took Quinton Byfield second overall in the 2020 draft and sent the winger to the Ontario Reign where he played 32 games in his first professional season. It took until 2023-24 before Byfield emerged as a bona-fide NHLer and racked up 20 goals and 35 assists in 80 games.

The path for the player selected at No. 2 overall will depend largely on the player himself and the organization. What kind of seasoning, if any, does this athlete need before becoming a Chicago Blackhawk? Where is he at physically? How will he handle a physically demanding sport against other full-grown men? These are questions that must be addressed when tailoring any draft pick's course to the NHL. With that in mind, we take a look at some of the top projected picks in this year's NHL draft class (in no particular order):

Artem Levshunov (D) - Michigan State/NCAA
Levshunov has turned himself into a bulletproof prospect with his mobility and explosiveness from the blue line. He posted 35 points (9G, 26A) in 38 games with Michigan State and helped Sparty capture a Big Ten championship. Individually, he pulled in just about every accolade you can imagine short of the Hobey Baker Award. Following his first season of college hockey, Levshunov was named Big Ten Rookie of the Year, Big Ten First All-Star Team, NCAA Second All-Star Team, and more. The defenseman first came to the States to play for Green Bay in the USHL in 2022-23 after spending the previous two seasons in Belarus, his native country. At 6-foot-2, 200 pounds, Levshunov looks every part of a high-end NHL defenseman.

  • #4 by
  • #3 by Bob McKenzie (TSN)
  • #3 by Daily Faceoff
  • #2 by NHL Central Scouting (North American skaters)
  • #2 by Sam Cosentino (Sportsnet)

Ivan Demidov (F) - SKA St. Petersburg/KHL
At 18 years of age, Demidov is a wildly exciting prospect from Russia. He dominated the MHL, the top Russian junior league, with 60 points (23G, 37A) in 30 games. His puck handling and playmaking abilities have him ranked as the second-best player in this year's draft by many amateur scouts. Drafting a Russian player has sometimes involved an extra layer of risk due to challenges in scouting that part of the world, but it's hard to ignore Demidov's ability and the fact that he was named MHL MVP in back-to-back seasons. The forward is expected to play next season with the KHL's SKA to finish out his contract.

  • #2 by
  • #6 by Bob McKenzie (TSN)
  • #2 by Daily Faceoff
  • #2 by NHL Central Scouting (European skaters)
  • #3 by Sam Cosentino (Sportsnet)

Anton Silayev (D) - Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod/KHL
Silayev is an enormous defenseman (6-foot-7) who has been playing against other professional hockey players for the last year. In the KHL last season with Torpedo, he tabbed only 11 points (3G, 8A) in 63 games but became more known for his defensive work. His skating jumps off the page, even for a player of his size, making him a highly touted prospect coming into the 2024 draft.

  • #12 by
  • #2 by Bob McKenzie (TSN)
  • #12 by Daily Faceoff
  • #1 by NHL Central Scouting (European skaters)
  • #4 by Sam Cosentino (Sportsnet)

Macklin Celebrini (F) - Boston University/NCAA
The reigning Hobey Baker winner is the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the 2024 draft. San Jose is expected to take him with the first pick in the draft, and for good reason. The center dominated in college this season with 64 points (32G, 32A) in 38 games at Boston University, and he earned Bronze with Team Canada at the 2024 IIHF U20 World Junior Championship behind eight points (4G, 4A) in five games. While perhaps not generating the same buzz as Connor Bedard did in the 2023 draft, Celebrini is believed to belong in a tier by himself in this year's selection process.

  • #1 by
  • #1 by Bob McKenzie (TSN)
  • #1 by Daily Faceoff
  • #1 by NHL Central Scouting (European skaters)
  • #1 by Sam Cosentino (Sportsnet)

Cayden Lindstrom (F) - Medicine Hat/WHL
Lindstrom is a big, fast, fearless scorer. He broke out in 2023-24 with 27 goals in just 32 games for Medicine Hat and showed a propensity for driving the net. He missed a significant amount of time last season due to injury, but if he is healthy, he can be a major factor on the ice. Many mock drafts have Lindstrom off the board by the fourth (Columbus) or fifth (Montreal) pick in the draft.

  • #3 by
  • #5 by Bob McKenzie (TSN)
  • #8 by Daily Faceoff
  • #3 by NHL Central Scouting (North American skaters)
  • #11 by Sam Cosentino (Sportsnet)

The NHL draft has always involved a high degree of uncertainty, but as you'd expect, the second overall pick has proven to produce high-caliber NHL talent over the last several decades. Since 1980, the 44-second overall selections taken in that time span have averaged 793.4 NHL regular season games over the course of their respective careers (and have averaged 548.5 points across all positions). Take out the 17 active players on that list, and that number jumps to 922.9 NHL games played (and 641.6 points) on average.

Looking Back at the 2023 Draft

Bedard was the headline of Chicago's 2023 draft, and rightfully so. However, the Hawks also selected 10 other players during the two-day selection process and several could make key impacts at both the United Center and the BMO Center in the coming years.

Chicago Blackhawks 2023 Draft Picks

11Connor BedardCRegina (WHL)
119Oliver MooreCUSNDTP (USHL)
235Adam GajanGChippewa (USHL)
244Roman Kansterov


Magnitogorsk (MHL)
255Martin MisiakCYoungstown (USHL)
367Nick LardisRWHamilton (OHL)
393Jiri FelcmanCLangnau (Swiss)
499Alex PharandRWSudbury (OHL)


Marcel MarcelLWGatineau (QMJHL)
6167Milton OscarsonCOrebro HK (SHL)
7195Janne PeltonenDKarpat (Liiga)

Five of those draftees spent time in Rockford during the 2023-24 season, and three saw game action (Felcman and Pharand joined the IceHogs after their respective seasons but did not appear in an AHL games). Marcel Marcel saw the most IceHogs action of the 2023 draft class and recorded five assists in 26 games.

What to Expect in 2024-25

It often takes a season or two in between a player's draft date and the time they begin to play professionally in the AHL or NHL. During the 2023-24 season, IceHogs fans mostly saw the Blackhawks' 2020 and 2021 draft classes at work. From the 2020 class, Lukas Reichel, Drew Commesso, Wyatt Kaiser, Isaak Phillips, and Louis Crevier all made significant impacts in Rockford. The 2021 draft class was represented by rookies Nolan Allan, Ethan Del Mastro, Colton Dach, and Jalen Luypen.

Enter the 2022 class.

Blackhawks General Manager Kyle Davidson's first draft contained three first-round picks: Kevin Korchinski (7th overall), Frank Nazar (13th), and Sam Rinzel (25th). It also brought the addition of two seconds, three thirds, two sixth-rounders, and a seventh-rounder.

Korchinski, by NHL and CHL rule, was not allowed to play in the AHL last season as a 19-year-old, and played 76 games for the Blackhawks during the regular season. After a full season up top, it seems likely that the young defenseman will again see a significant amount of time with the Hawks in 2024-25.

Outside of Korchinski, four other players from the 2022 draft class have signed NHL contracts with the Hawks. Below are the players from the 2022 draft class who have signed their entry-level contracts with the Blackhawks and would potentially be eligible to spent time with the IceHogs in 2024-25.

Signed Players from Blackhawks' 2022 NHL Draft Class

Round#PlayerAge2023-24 Team
17Kevin Korchinski20Chicago (NHL)
113Frank Nazar20Michigan (NCAA)
239Paul Ludwinski20Kingston (OHL)
366Gavin Hayes20Flint/Soo (OHL)
381Samuel Savoie20Rouyn-Noranda (QMJHL)

Hayes, Ludwinski, and Savoie have all spent time in Rockford after their respective junior seasons in previous years, and Ludwinski appeared in five IceHogs games at the end of the 2023-24 campaign. Hayes had a monster year in the OHL split between the Flint Firebirds and the Soo Greyhounds. Through 55 total contests, the forward posted 76 points (37G, 39A) in the regular campaign before adding 16 points (7G, 9A) in 11 playoff contests. During Ludwinski's most recent season with the Kingston Frontenacs in the OHL, he led his team with 69 points (23G, 46A) in 60 games and also added six points (2G, 4A) in five playoff contests. Savoie suffered a severe leg injury in a Blackhawks preseason game prior to the start of the 2023-24 hockey calendar, but he returned to action with great effectiveness and recorded 22 points (10G, 12A) in 21 games with Rouyn-Noranda in the QMJHL.

Nazar's Michigan Wolverines reached the Frozen Four before falling in overtime to Boston College. In his first fully healthy college season, Nazar dominated with 41 points (17G, 24A) in 41 games. He signed his entry-level contract on Apr. 13 before he skated in three games with the Blackhawks to end the season. The former first-rounder scored his first NHL goal in his NHL debut on Apr. 14 against Carolina.

These five players will all be looking to crack the Blackhawks' opening night roster, but past precedent indicates that at least some of them will join the IceHogs during the 2024-25 campaign. Be sure to tune in to the 2024 NHL Entry Draft to see who could be coming to Rockford in future seasons.

  • Round 1: June 28, 6 p.m. CT
  • Rounds 2-7: June 29, 10:30 a.m. CT
  • Where: Sphere - Las Vegas, NV
  • TV: ESPN (Day 1 only)/NHL Network/ESPN+