Meet the Blackhawks: A draft review of the St. Louis Blues' biggest rival

Dear Blackhawks fans; I'm sorry that you have your front office, let me be honest; it takes a man to make those picks, a man who has no conscious; I look at them and feel pride my team does not make me nauseous; I'm sorry you have to witness so many repeated traumas.
Chicago Blackhawks front office and star forward Connor Bedard announce Chicago's second overall pick, Artyom Levshunov (middle)
Chicago Blackhawks front office and star forward Connor Bedard announce Chicago's second overall pick, Artyom Levshunov (middle) / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

With two first-round picks coming into the draft headlined by the 2nd overall pick, the Chicago Blackhawks had a big draft day ahead of them, one with potentially franchise-altering decisions.

On draft night, Blackhawks fans may have felt euphoria. Given the value on the board at those picks, the opposite should be true.

You either pop out or show out

Where this year's NHL draft truly began was with the 2nd overall pick, as there was no surprise to anybody who follows the draft that the San Jose Sharks selected Macklin Celebrini first overall.

At 2nd, the Chicago Blackhawks had a massive decision to make: Artyom Levshunov or Ivan Demidov.

Levshunov is a very polished defenseman with a solid defensive and offensive game, though nothing about his tools really stand out as exciting. Demidov on the other hand, is about as electric of a winger as you can have. He has an exciting offensive game with very high upside.

Levshunov was a much safer pick, but Demidov profiles as the more likely of the two to become a true star or superstar level player.

So clearly, with the 2nd overall pick, you should take the home run swing.

Apparently not for the Chicago Blackhawks. They excitedly chose Artyom Levshunov.

The pairing of Bedard and Demidov could have become the next generation's McDavid and Draisaitl, Crosby and Malkin, or Toews and Kane. Instead, they chose the player with NHL comparisons to Brent Burns at best.

You better not pick more than once in round one

To clarify, I do think Levshunov will probably become a successful NHL player, but the alternatives they could have selected were much scarier outcomes for the St. Louis Blues to play against.

Similarly, their other first-round picks did not match the value of what they might have had instead.

Chicago picked at 18th overall and selected Sacha Boisvert, a Canadian forward with center versatility. So what's not to like here?

Boisvert was ranked closer to the end of the third round by many public scouts, as you can see on his page. Additionally, many picks following the Blackhawks selection at 18 were ranked much higher than Boisvert.

Boisvert's best tool and most promising his aspect is his goalscoring. If the Blackhawks wanted a true goalscorer, you'd think they would have taken Demidov. Furthermore, the prospect with potentially the best goalscoring ability in the entire draft went two picks later.

Cole Eiserman was very early on expected to go top-5, and even after somewhat of a down year, his goalscoring ability still shone as possibly the best in the class. So if they wanted goal scoring ability, why did they take Boisvert over Eiserman or another talented forward available? It's hard to say.

Finally, they traded up to select a third time in the first round, taking Marek Vanacker.

This pick is a lot more debatable. I think there were still much better options for a forward, such as Igor Chernyshov and Lucas Petterson, but to be fair these players were all ranked very similarly.

The questionable move about this decision is why they had to trade up to get this player. Vanacker was not that much better than a lot of the talent at the top of the second round, where they were originally selecting.

To get to 27, they traded pick 34, moving up 7 spots and forfeiting another second round pick to do so. Essentially, they gave up two second-round picks to get a first round pick that was just as promising as other players selected in the range they originally had; all they did was lose another second-round pick for nothing.

The draft lies of the Chicago Blackhawks and truths of the St. Louis Blues

In the 2024 NHL draft, the Blackhawks did not receive good value with the massive draft capital they had. They did not make worthwhile picks with their resources.

They certainly drafted good players, but their draft left a lot to be desired.

As their rival, the St. Louis Blues come out the better for not fumbling their value and instead swinging for the fences on every pick. They selected the prospects with very high upside and instead of regretting passing on the lottery tickets that are NHL prospects, Doug Armstrong shot for the upside every time.

The drafting strategy of the Chicago Blackhawks is truly a curious one, wasting a massive amount of value they might regret for a long time. They're not like us.