Blackhawks don’t win draft lottery, officially cede first-round pick to Blue Jackets
The Hawks’ 15.4% chance of winning the No. 1 or 2 overall pick didn’t come to fruition Tuesday, and the pick is now gone for good — completing the regrettable Seth Jones trade package.
The Blackhawks’ first-round draft pick for 2022 is officially gone.
Sent to the Blue Jackets last summer in the regrettable Seth Jones trade package — but with protection that would have kept it in the Hawks’ possession if it ended up being the first or second pick overall — the pick was ceded Tuesday based on the NHL Draft lottery results.
The Hawks entered the day with a 7.5% chance of winning the No. 1 selection and a 7.9% chance of winning the No. 2 selection. Instead, the Canadiens won the first overall selection, and the Devils won the second. The Coyotes will pick third in the draft, which begins July 7 in Montreal, followed by the Kraken fourth and the Flyers fifth. The Blue Jackets, with the pick from the Hawks, will draft sixth.
Keeping the pick would have provided a major boost for new general manager Kyle Davidson’s rebuild. The one silver lining is that the Hawks, by giving up this pick, are now guaranteed to keep their 2023 first-round pick, which would have instead transferred to the Jackets had the Hawks won the lottery Tuesday.
The Hawks might yet land an elite future star next year. Their rebuild hints at another low finish in the standings, which would mean another high draft choice and high odds in the lottery. And the prevailing perception is that the 2023 draft class looks better than the 2022 class.
But the Hawks will have to wait a year for that. And as Davidson said last month, “If you don’t have a first-round pick, that means the talent’s pushed further down the road, which lengthens the speed at which you can get talent to the NHL.”
The Hawks could still end up with a first-round pick this year — albeit a late one — if the Wild advance to the Western Conference Final and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury wins four or more games during the first two playoff rounds. That would activate the condition on the second-round pick the Wild traded the Hawks for Fleury, turning it into a first-round pick.
That pick from the Wild is one of five picks the Hawks own in the first three rounds, so they’ll be able to add a large quantity of decent prospects — if not elite ones — to their pipeline. Nonetheless, they’ll spend the first hour of the draft salivating over the talent they could have had in another world.
Shane Wright, the consensus top prospect, projects as a first-line center with equally stout offensive and defensive abilities. Compared by TSN’s Craig Button to Bruins star Patrice Bergeron, he had 94 points in 63 games this season with the OHL’s Kingston Frontenacs.
American center Logan Cooley, Slovakian winger Juraj Slafkovsky, Slovakian defenseman Simon Nemec and Canadian center Matthew Savoie are favored as the other top five picks, with Finnish winger Joakim Kemell and Czech defenseman David Jiricek also in the conversation.
Cooley plays a well-rounded game like Wright but is arguably faster, although he’s a bit smaller at 5-11, 174 pounds. He had 36 points in 24 games in the U.S. National Development Program and will play college hockey at Minnesota next year.
Slafkovsky (6-4, 218) is perhaps the most NHL-ready prospect in the class. He played a full season of pro hockey in Finland, tallying 17 points in 49 regular- and postseason games for TPS, but really gained fame for winning MVP of the 2022 Winter Olympics with seven goals in seven games for Slovakia.
Nemec is a smart, versatile, puck-moving defenseman who had 43 points in 58 regular- and postseason games for the Slovakian club HK Nitra. Savoie is an aggressive, shoot-first scorer who had 90 points in 65 games for the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice.