The Blackhawks made some noise on Day 1 of the NHL; trading away both Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach. By doing so, management made it very clear we’re not planning to contend in the near future. But we also picked up four picks in the 2022 draft (7th, 13th, 39th and 66th overall) in addition to a 2024 third rounder from the Ottawa Senators.
Chicago ended up with 11 draft picks in this year’s draft. Let’s meet the newest members of the organization.
2022 Draft Picks
|Nils Juntorp||F||6’1||185||SWE J20||6||188|
|Riku Tohila||F||6’5/8||190||JTP U 20||7||199|
Kevin Korchinski is a potential game-changer on defense. At 6’2, he has good size and great speed (You’ll see that speed is a constant theme in Kyle Davidson’s first year as GM). Korchinski uses that speed aggressively, he’ll often beat one or two forecheckers and create chances for open teammates up ice. He was able to find teammates a lot last year, he tallied 0.91 assists per game last season for the Seattle Thunderbirds in the WHL. He finished last year with four goals and 61 assists in 67 games.
Frank Nazar is the Blackhawks’ second 1st Round pick. Nazar is not the biggest, but he’s a speedy playmaker with excellent instincts. He’s really good at drawing defenders to him and creating 2-on-1 opportunities for teammates. Nazar will play next season at the University of Michigan.
The Hawks final first round pick is Sam Rinzel. He joins Korchinski as the only two defenders drafted by Chicago this year. Rinzel has good size at 6’4, but a lot of analysts list him as being very raw and potentially more of a project. He has shown good shot mechanics and the ability to score some goals in high school. Scouts have also liked his ability to take away space defensively, but again he’s really only played at a high school level to this point. He’ll play next season for the Waterloo Blackhawks of the USHL before heading to the University of Minnesota in 2023-24.
Paul Ludwinski begins the forward picking frenzy for the Hawks. High motored, speedy and reliable. Ludwinski has a good all-around game, but no specific skills that really stand out. I’ve seen some say he may have gone higher than expected at 39th overall.
Ryan Greene is a two-way forward with good size at 6’2. Good skating ability and a good motor. Not a high ceiling, his defensive game is where he can differentiate himself.
Gavin Hayes is another good skater that isn’t really a playmaker. With that being said, he does have a good shot so he could turn into someone who provides some goals.
Samuel Savoie is yet another high motor, good skater. Savoie is more physical than some of the other picks, but there’s not a whole lot of upside on the offensive end.
Aidan Thompson is intriguing, he put up 86 points in 60 games for the Lincoln Stars of the USHL last season (24 goals, 62 assists). He’s an over-ager at 20 years old but was a leader for Lincoln and will play with a lot of energy. He’ll play for the University of Denver next season.
Dominic James is more of a defensive forward with good speed from Minnesota-Duluth. He’s excelled on the penalty kill so it may be his defensive presence that caught the Blackhawks’ eye here.
Nils Juntrop is a raw and speedy forward who is yet to play outside of his junior team in Sweden. He’ll play for the Dubuque Fighting Saints in the USHL next year. As someone who’s been to a few Fighting Saints games, I’ll have to cheer our guy on this season!
Riku Tohila rounds out the Blackhawks draft picks as a 6’8 center! A 6’8 center is normal in basketball, but unheard of in hockey. In doing some research a lot of prospect sites have him at 6’5 but it seems he’s hit a recent growth spurt. He’s referred to as a project, but he certainly is an interesting project.
The below plot shows all of this year’s picks by goals per game and assists per game last season.
This plot helps illustrate the clear excitement around Nazar and Korchinski as well as the big year from Aidan Thompson for Lincoln last year. We also see a lot of the later picks are players that may possess other skills like speed, defense and physicality. These are the guys who don’t have the ceiling the earlier picks do. The Hawks set themselves up with some really good pieces early on and a ton of options for potential hard-working role forwards later on. It will be a lot of fun to pay attention to these guys in the coming years, especially given where Chicago might be in the standings.
For constant Blackhawks updates, I recommend following Jack Bushman, Charlie Roumeliotis and TalkinHawkey on Twitter for everything Chicago Blackhawks. I’d also recommend Jack’s podcast LO_Blackhawks!