Blackhawks’ Reconstruction Depends on 2023 NHL Draft Lottery – and Bedard, Michkov or Fantly
It was a start.
The Blackhawks’ rebuild should have a solid foundation after making three first-round picks in this month’s draft and eight in the first 90.
Time will tell how Kyle Davidson’s first draft ChicagoThe general manager of the U.S. has of course gone, but it could be a positive start. And with four more first-round picks and 11 selections in the first three rounds over the next two years, the Blackhawks should have ample opportunities to replenish their potential pool.
Now, his priority is to find “the” piece to keep all those players. They need an anchor. They need a superstar.
To do so, the Blackhawks will have to position themselves to pick one of the elite players in 2023. NHL draft. If they’re going to take away as much of the organization’s talent as they have – possibly even more Depends on what Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toes decide to do – The reward will have to bring down the talent of that generation. Otherwise, all this is useless and only prolongs their reconstruction.
Fortunately for the Blackhawks, next year’s draft features at least two players who fall into that superstar category: Conor Bedard, a Canadian center, and Matvei Michkov, a Russian winger. The debate about who would ultimately be the better NHL player has been going on for some years, but most evaluators agree that the two will be special.
Davidson seems to be building a team with Bedard and Michkov in mind.
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The Blackhawks were the sixth-worst team last season, and have since downgraded their roster across the board. He has reduced his scoring, depth and ability to score. They’ll have some competition—the Arizona Coyotes Will be in the mix again – but it’s not unthinkable, especially if Davidson sends more talent on the trade deadline to envision them to be the league’s worst team next season after 82 games.
The Blackhawks Won’t Admit That’s The Plan, But Their Director of Amateur Scouting, Mike Donaghy, He was fairly honest about his view of the top of the next year’s draft.
“If you’re going to be bad, this is probably the year to do it because you know what the next three might be,” Doneghi said recently. “Even this year, you’re not really enamored with the top of the draft. But next year, it’s like, yeah, if I’m going to be bad and get one of those guys, well, you can do it more Might like more.”
Doneghi and I talked more about next year’s draft, but let’s look first at the prospect of the Blackhawks landing one of those geniuses.
The Blackhawks are not guaranteed Bedard or Michkov, even if they finish last. The worst team can fall to the third pick in the NHL lottery. It’s not the end of the world, as Canadian center Adam Fantilli, third player Doneghi was referring to, is also widely reported. He’s not in that first category for a lot of evaluators, but he’s not far off.
Byron Bader, a data scientist, NHL draft advisor and website publisher hockey prospectingexplained to me: “(Bedard and Michkov) both have early signs of a ‘generational talent.’ Point one. Fantilli doesn’t look quite the same. He may be a star in his own right but doesn’t look quite as sure as Bedard and Michkov. We’ll have to wait until next season to find out where he rocks.”
So, yes, the Blackhawks could have actually used it to ignite their reconstruction.
Others in that Scouting world mostly feel the same way.
“I think both Bedard and Michkov have a chance to be top-tier goal scorers in the NHL,” said Chris Peters, a prospects analyst for the NHL Draft and Flowhockey. “Neither is particularly big or strong nor a burner at this stage of his career, but he scores at a level I’ve seen at his age. We’re talking really special players. Me Looks like Bedard might be one of the best pure shooters I’ve seen. Michkov is a hockey player of a genius level. Never seen anyone with his aggressive hockey spirit and ability to take advantage of goalkeepers.
“They’re both in their respective classes, but Fantilli looks like a franchise building block. He’s fast, he’s big, he’s strong and he knows how to score. There’s a lot of other good guys in that top 10.” There’s a group too. If Chicago goes through what we think they’re going to and ends up with Bedard or Michkov, it’s worth it. If they get Fantilli, it’s probably worth it, But I need to see more of him before putting the superstar tag in the future. The other two give me a lot of confidence.”
athletics Scott Wheeler was also the higher of the three players, but he put Bedard in a different class.
“I am confident that all three players will live up to the hype,” Wheeler said. “Bedard has a superstar ceiling. He’s the kind of prospect that will completely change the trajectory of a rebuilding team and really speed up the process. I fully expect him to make an immediate impact in the NHL that recently.” No. 1 hasn’t been liked. The way he skates, handles the puck, strikes and especially shoots. His ability to dodge his blade from compromised rugs is truly prodigious) , I think they’ve got a 50-goal upside.
“And Michkov and Fantly are really high-end, A-plus prospects too. The former has all the equipment of a first-line, points-per-game winger. And the latter is every team’s ideal hotbed with skill, power, and speed.” He has become a terrific skater. He may not have the superstar ceiling as Bedard, but he has great potential to become a star, and there are some who believe that superstardom is in the cards for him as well Could be three of the best prospects in years.”
It is very clear that if the Blackhawks get the first pick then Bedard is that player. He could be in their NHL lineup as early as the 2023–24 season and be tempted enough to stay with Kane to play with him.
Now, if the Blackhawks end up with the second pick, it gets more complicated.
Michkov is probably the smart pick out there today given his potential, but drafting him means he will have to wait longer. He has signed with SKA in the KHL during the 2025–26 season. This means he is unlikely to appear in the NHL until at least the start of the 2026–27 season. Then he would be ashamed of his 22nd birthday.
Davidson is selling patience to fans and the front office, and everyone is buying. But does it continue if they have to wait even longer before another potential superstar arrives? It’s probably asking a lot if fans are dropping and the bottom line is shrinking. The Blackhawks will probably want to get on and off the ice as soon as possible if they draft a game-changing player. On the other hand, it probably won’t end well, either, if you pass up the chance to draft Michkov because you’re impatient and he turns out to be a generational genius.
There is a chance that Fantilli will step up his game this season and involve himself in that conversation. Some league sources believe that the 6-foot-3 Fantly is not far behind Bedard and Michkov and has certain characteristics that set him apart.
“I think he’s big time,” said a league executive. “He can do everything — scores, good skater, makes plays, has skill, is physical. He has great working habits. He’s a legit five-tool prospect. The Bedard/Michkov hype is fever pitch , but they are (under six feet). In any other year, (Fantilli) is an estimated No. 1.”
You can expect the Blackhawks to thoroughly study all three players coming into next year’s draft.
“We’ll obviously see them a lot,” Donaghy said. “We will see him in every environment, be it international tournaments, league play, whatever it may be.”
Watching Michkov live will be more difficult as Russia is currently not allowed to participate in any international tournaments. Doneghi said he no longer has a visa to travel to Russia, but will rely on leading European amateur scout Niklas Blomgren, who has a visa to travel there, and Anatoly Semenov, a pro scout based in Russia. Doneghi is confident the Blackhawks will know enough about that trio and even more potential first-rounders.
“Those three are in the top right, but there will be four or five others who will be knocking on that door by the time next year comes,” Donaghy said.
This season will be tempting to follow those players as they jockey for the top spot on the 2023 draft board. And as painful as the season may be for the Blackhawks and their fans, it will be interesting to see whether the team can actually finish last in Bedard, Michkov or Fantly to give themselves a chance. Because if the Blackhawks don’t end up with any of them, the reconstruction has already faltered.
(Top photo of Conor Bedard: Cody MacLachlan/Getty Images)