Blackhawks’ Day 2 draft class headlined by Adam Gajan, Roman Kantserov

The Hawks completed their 11-man 2023 class by selecting goaltender Gajan, defenseman Janne Peltonen and seven forwards — Roman Kantserov, Martin Misiak, Nick Lardis, Jiri Felcman, Alex Pharand, Marcel Marcel and Milton Oscarson — on Thursday.

SHARE Blackhawks’ Day 2 draft class headlined by Adam Gajan, Roman Kantserov
The Blackhawks selected Adam Gajan in the second round of the NHL draft on Thursday.

The Blackhawks selected Adam Gajan in the second round of the NHL draft on Thursday.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Blackhawks did make several trades during the second day of the NHL draft Thursday, but in spite of that, they left Nashville having made as many picks (11) as they owned entering the week.

After choosing Connor Bedard first overall and Oliver Moore with the 19th pick in the first round Wednesday, general manager Kyle Davidson and scouting director Mike Doneghey turned things around quickly.

Here’s a prospect-by-prospect breakdown of the Hawks’ Day Two draft class:

Pick No. 35: Adam Gajan, G, Chippewa (NAHL)

The Hawks made Gajan, a Slovakia native and Minnesota-Duluth commit, the first goalie picked in the draft — ahead of expected top goalie Michael Hrabal, who went 38th to the Coyotes.

Gajan admitted that, one year ago, “nobody knew about me.” But he moved over to the U.S. this past season and his stock blew up. He went 19-12-1 with a .917 save percentage in the NAHL but raised eyebrows higher with his .936 save percentage for Slovakia during the world junior championships.

“We loved his athleticism [and] ability to play the puck,” Davidson said. “[He’s a] big-game player.”

The Hawks kept closely in touch with Gajan throughout the year, primarily through goalie scout Dan Ellis, and Gajan realized they were the “most interested team.” His combination of athleticism and 6-3 size is impressive, but Gajan said he’s working on playing more calmly in the net.

No. 44: Roman Kantserov, RW, Magnitogorsk (Russia)

Davidson had insisted he wasn’t wary of taking Russians, and he backed up that claim by selecting Kantserov, whom the Hawks met with Tuesday in Nashville.

Kantserov is undersized at 5-9 but recorded 54 points in 45 games in Russia’s second-division pro league last season. Doneghey believes he has one year left on his KHL contract.

“He can flat-out shoot it,” Doneghey added. “He’s accurate [with a] quick release. [His] skating’s really good and powerful. He’s got a thick body on him. He plays inside [the dots].”

No. 55: Martin Misiak, C/RW, Youngstown (USHL)

Doneghey compared Misiak to Brandon Saad whereas Misiak compared himself to Bruins forward Pavel Zacha, but either way, the 6-2, 200-pound forward is known for his versatility and competitiveness.

Like countryman Gajan, Misiak also played on the Slovakian world-juniors team and also jumped to the U.S. this season, where he showed a new dimension while leading Youngstown to the USHL title. His flight from New York to Nashville was cancelled, so his family instead drove 15 hours to attend the draft in-person.

“I’ve trained for this my whole life, so that would be kind of stupid to just turn around in America a couple days before the draft,” Misiak said, laughing. “I’m super happy. It was worth it.”

No. 67: Nick Lardis, LW, Hamilton (OHL)

Lardis erupted after a midseason trade, producing 56 points in 39 total games for Hamilton after recording only 19 points in 36 games for Peterborough. He’s slight at 5-11, 168 pounds, but he’s a good skater and shooter. He also grew up a Hawks fan in Ontario.

“He can fly,” Doneghey said. “He meets our speed element, but he also has that scoring attribute.”

No. 93: Jiri Felcman, C, Langnau (Switzerland)

Felcman was an unexpected selection. He wasn’t included at all in most public prospect rankings.

The Hawks, however, thought he took a big step forward this past season. Doneghey thinks Felcman projects to be a bottom-six center thanks to his 6-4 size and high hockey IQ.

No. 99: Alex Pharand, C, Sudbury (OHL)

Pharand can fight, kill penalties and skate well with a 6-3 frame — all things appealing to NHL clubs. He fell to 99th because of his relatively low offensive production; he tallied only 39 points in 67 OHL games in Sudbury (Davidson’s hometown).

No. 131: Marcel Marcel, LW, Gatineau (QMJHL)

Marcel, the draft’s best-named player, is nearly 6-5 and 240 pounds but still “gets around the ice really well,” Doneghey insisted. The Hawks watched him a lot because he played alongside 2022 pick Sam Savoie in Gatineau and also stood out on Czechia’s world-juniors team.

No. 167: Milton Oscarson, C, Orebro (Sweden)

The Hawks traded the 51st overall pick to the Flyers for this 167th pick and the Kings’ 2024 second-round pick on the draft floor. Oscarson is another massive (6-6, 216-pound) forward acclaimed for his defensive ability, although his skating form is a concern.

“I love that we were able to add a different flavor to the mix with some serious size toward the back end of the draft,” Davidson said.

No. 195: Janne Peltonen, D, Karpat (Finland)

Peltonen was the only defenseman the Hawks picked. Davidson said his strategy of simply taking the best player available every time led to that outcome by coincidence.

As far as Peltonen specifically, he’s a needle-in-the-haystack prospect but he checked the Hawks’ favorite boxes of skating ability, competitiveness and size (6-3), Doneghey said.

The Latest
McClain, a longtime confidant of Madigan, is set to go on trial with him Oct. 8 on racketeering, bribery, fraud and attempted extortion charges, but his lawyers argue that Madigan’s apparent defense strategy involved blaming McClain.
Baldwin singled in his first plate appearance against Royals
The fundraiser will be at the home of a family friend on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The campaign has at least 10 other fundraising events over the last 10 days of July.
The boy was in an alley about 3 p.m. Friday when someone approached him and opened fire, police said.