Blackhawks could pick anywhere from first to fifth in NHL draft after 30th-place finish

The Blue Jackets’ loss Friday against the Sabres locked the Hawks into third-to-last in the final standings. They receive 11.5% odds of winning the first pick (and Connor Bedard) but also a chance of falling to fifth.

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The Blackhawks finished the season near the bottom of the NHL standings.

The Blackhawks finished the season near the bottom of the NHL standings.

Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The Blackhawks’ position entering the NHL’s May 8 draft lottery is now set.

It could have been better — and would have been if the Hawks’ not-tanking players hadn’t earned three points in their last two games — but it also could have been worse.

The Blue Jackets’ 5-2 loss Friday against the Sabres locked the Hawks, with 59 points, into 30th place in the final league standings.

That gives them 11.5% odds of receiving the No. 1 overall pick and additional 11.5% odds of receiving No. 2 in the draft, which will take place June 28-29 in Nashville. Functionally, they also have 7.4% odds of ending up with the No. 3 pick, 40.7% odds of No. 4 and 28.8% odds of No. 5, which is as low as they could fall.

That means the Hawks will have to prepare for a wide range of possibilities. Beyond expected top-two picks Connor Bedard and Adam Fantilli, the next-best prospects are considered to be Leo Carlsson and Matvei Michkov.

Michkov is the more talented of the latter two, but he brings a number of off-ice red flags, geopolitical concerns and a contract with his current Russian team, SKA St. Petersburg, that runs for three more years.

That long wait will turn off some NHL teams, but Hawks general manager Kyle Davidson seems decidedly unbothered by it, considering his rebuilding plans are equally long-term.

“I don’t necessarily think that being available to us tomorrow is a prerequisite for us to draft you,” Davidson said Thursday.

“We’re not taking anyone off the board...just because they might not be available to us in Year Two [of the rebuild] or whatever. That would be a disservice to our endeavor for acquiring the best players. It’s something that’s under consideration. [We have] lots of work to do, lots of things to learn between now and the draft.”

Past Michkov, Will Smith and Zach Benson sit fifth and sixth in most rankings while Ryan Leonard, Colby Barlow and Dalibor Dvorsky are also in that conversation.

“We’ve got the information and the process that we think we can uncover those players,” Davidson added. “I won’t get into tiers and labels, but [it’s] a special top of the draft and then a really strong down-the-board group.”

Accept uncontrollable factors

Davidson, when asked Thursday about learning experiences in his first full season as a full-time GM, gave an interesting answer — alluding to the disappointing Patrick Kane trade return of second- and fourth-round picks.

“What you think is going to happen probably won’t,” he said. “So [I need] to stop trying to control situations a little bit, because so much is out of your control.

“I can’t control people’s trade value and stuff like that, right? You think all day and you run through a million different scenarios. And in the end, what’s laid out in front of you is what you’ve got to deal with, and you’ve just got to be flexible in that.”

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