Blackhawks prospect Oliver Moore’s work ethic makes him more than just a great skater

Moore, whom the Hawks picked 19th in the draft, is already building a culture of competitiveness and maturity alongside top pick Connor Bedard.

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The Blackhawks used the 19th pick in the draft on forward Oliver Moore.

The Blackhawks used the 19th pick in the draft on forward Oliver Moore.

Jason Kempin/Getty Images

Few sentences have been written recently about Oliver Moore, the Blackhawks’ 19th overall pick, that haven’t referenced his skating ability.

He was billed as the best skater in the 2023 draft class. The Hawks, who have prioritized skating above all else during the Kyle Davidson era, were extremely high on him for that reason. His Minneapolis-based skating trainer, Katie McDonough, has been widely lauded for helping perfect his powerful, efficient stride.

But there’s more to Moore than just skating. Shawna and Brian Moore — Oliver’s parents — have seen that firsthand the last six years, watching their son evolve from a three-sport kid who enjoyed hockey into an elite hockey prospect.

“Whatever he has done, he does well, and he works very, very hard,” Brian said. “A lot is made of the skating, but he wouldn’t be where he is without more than that. He’s very dedicated in the weight room and [to] nutrition and studying the game and trying new things when he’s on the ice.

“They talk a lot about his ‘compete level,’ but that’s just who he is. He’s going, all the time.”

It was around age 12 when Moore fully committed himself to the sport, adopting Malcolm Gladwell’s maxim that mastery requires 10,000 hours of practice, Shawna said. He began working with McDonough and shooting pucks nonstop in the family garage alongside his older brother, Howie.

The U.S. National Team Development Program began scouting him around age 14, and two years later — after dominating the Minneapolis high school circuit — he received the invite. He had 39 points in 43 games for the Under-17 team in 2021-22, then 75 points in 61 games for the Under-18 team in 2022-23.

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Oliver Moore spent the last two seasons at the U.S. National Team Development Program.

Sipa USA via AP Photos

Coincidentally, Rod Braceful, who recruited Moore to the NTDP, left during that time to become a Hawks amateur scout. That helped jump-start the Hawks’ longtime interest in Moore.

On draft night June 28, Davidson was furiously trying to trade up to get Moore — whom most mock drafts projected to go in the 10 to 15 range — but couldn’t find a trade partner.

Simultaneously in the Bridgestone Arena stands, the Moore family heard about the Hawks’ attempts but couldn’t openly discuss them because they were mic’d up for a documentary.

“We were onto picks 10, 11, 12, and I could see [Oliver] tense up,” Shawna Moore said. “We were just [going on] body language, communicating, ‘This is OK, right?’ Any team would be amazing and great . . . but I was thinking, ‘Boy, I hope he makes it to the Blackhawks.’ ’’

When he slipped to 19th — a blessing in disguise, it turned out — the family reaction was “full of lightning and joy,” Shawna said. Oliver admitted he “blacked out.”

Not only will Chicago be just a drive away from Minneapolis once Moore makes the NHL leap — he’ll first spend a year or two at the University of Minnesota — but he’ll also get to lead the Hawks’ revival alongside top pick Connor Bedard. They already became fast friends at development camp.

“Right after the draft, [Bedard and I] were already talking about getting in the gym and getting ready to work,” Moore said. “It’s already rubbing off on me, his work ethic and the way he carries himself.”

“I think the same,’’ Bedard said. ‘‘[Moore is] a really hard worker, and he’s really competitive — he wasn’t happy when he lost in spikeball. It was great getting to know him. He’s a special player. His off-ice habits and his work ethic were great to see.”

Davidson was thrilled to read those comments.

“That’s what you want,” Davidson said. “That’s culture. [When] you see players come in, and they’re already dictating positive behaviors, that’s the goal that you seek. And we’ve got a lot of that in the room.”

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