Blackhawks’ Day 2 draft class headlined by centers Paul Ludwinski, Ryan Greene
The Hawks added eight forwards Friday, including second-round selections Ludwinski and Greene, to their overall 11-man 2022 draft class.
MONTREAL — After a wild Thursday of trades at the NHL draft, the Blackhawks quietly spent Friday adding much-needed depth to their prospect pool.
They picked eight players during the second through seventh rounds, and all eight were forwards — addressing that weakness in their preexisting pool.
That came after the Hawks surprisingly chose two defensemen among their three first-round picks Friday: Kevin Korchinski (seventh overall pick) and Sam Rinzel (25th) joined forward Frank Nazar (13th).
Two centers picked in the second round —Paul Ludwinski (39th) and Ryan Greene (57th) — led Friday’s selections.
The Hawks added wingers Gavin Hayes (66th) and Samuel Savoie (81st) and center Aidan Thompson (90th) in the third round. After a break in picks, the Hawks then added center Dominic James (173rd) and winger Nils Juntorp (188th) in the sixth round and center Riku Tohila (199th) in the seventh.
“The one word you heard us say over the last few months, [and] you heard the players say it over the last few days, is speed,” Hawks scouting director Mike Doneghey said. “We certainly got a lot faster. We got very competitive.”
Confidence was another overarching trait among Friday’s picks. Ludwinski claimed he had the “most versatility” and “best motor” of anyone in the draft class. Hayes compared himself to Jets star Blake Wheeler with “more skill.”
The Hawks also completed three small trades Friday. They dealt the 94th pick of the third round to the Coyotes for the Stars’ 2023 third-round pick, then acquired the 188th pick (used on Juntorp) from the Hurricanes in exchange for their 2023 sixth-round pick.
They traded the 167th pick to the Penguins for 22-year-old prospect forward Liam Gorman, an unsigned former sixth-round pick currently playing for Princeton.
Ludwinski: As the third-line center on fourth overall pick Shane Wright’s Kingston Frontenacs team, Ludwinski is already well-refined defensively but is expected to blossom more offensively in the years to come. He exploded in the OHL playoffs with 12 points in 11 games. He said he goes “200 miles an hour” but is learning to slow down at the right times.
Greene: Greene’s game is predicated on skating pace. He scored 51 points in 59 games for the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers but, next season, will expand the Hawks’ Boston University prospect pipeline. Doneghey portrayed him as a longer-term prospect.
Hayes: Former Rockford IceHogs coach Ted Dent coached Hayes this past season with the OHL’s Flint Firebirds and “made him earn his stripes,” Doneghey said. “It didn’t go great for Gavin all the way along, especially at the beginning...[but] he took it upon himself to figure it out, and he did.” Hayes finished with 49 points in 65 games.
Savoie: Self-described as a mix between Brad Marchand and Sam Bennett, Savoie plays “with an edge.” Doneghey concurred, calling him a “ball of energy.” He scored 33 points in 64 games for the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques.
Thompson: An overage prospect passed over in the last two NHL drafts, Thompson erupted for 82 points in 57 games with the Lincoln Stars this past season, ranking fourth in the USHL. He’s heading to Denver University, another common Hawks development ground.
James: A diminutive (5-11, 166-pound) forward with a “north-south” style, Doneghey said, James scored 18 points in 39 games as a freshman at Minnesota-Duluth this past season, where he was personally scouted by Hawks associate general manager Norm Maciver.
Juntorp: Juntorp hasn’t yet made it out of the Swedish junior leagues but was well-regarded by Hawks European scouts. “Speed is his whole game,” Doneghey said.
Tohila: A total lottery pick, Tohila is a “naive small-town kid” who’s “very behind the curve,” Doneghey said — but he’s 6-5 and a great skater, so he has a chance.