BREAKING: Blackhawks select Artyom Levshunov with second overall pick


The Chicago Blackhawks added another foundational piece to their rebuild on Friday night, as General Manager Kyle Davidson selected Michigan State University defenseman Artyom Levshunov with the second overall pick of the 2024 NHL Entry Draft.

The selection puts an end to the seemingly endless debate among fans about who the Blackhawks should select with the pick, with the other popular option being Russian winger Ivan Demidov. In Levshunov, Chicago will be getting a smooth-skating offensively minded player with a good NHL-sized frame. That frame allows Levshunov to lean into a physical defending style, which will allow him to defend proficiently at the NHL level.

The charismatic Belarusian recorded 35 points in 38 games as a freshman with Michigan State, out-producing other former first-round picks to play in the Big Ten in their draft seasons such as Quinn Hughes and Owen Power. Levshunov was relied upon as the team’s go-to defenseman, playing big minutes in all situations. Of note, Levshunov was the Big Ten’s Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year.

While the Blackhawks have a decent defensive prospect pool as it is, it lacked a projectable top-pairing defender, particularly on the right side. Alex Vlasic, Kevin Korchinski, Ethan Del Mastro and Nolan Allan make the left side pretty easy to envision down the road, but Sam Rinzel was the only projectable righty in the prospect pool. Of course, Seth Jones will likely be around for a while, but will likely not be a premier defenseman when the Blackhawks are ready to contend.

Adding Levshunov gives the Hawks everything they lacked on the back end, and the timeline should fit like a glove, as the team has Jones to serve as the top righty option until Levshunov and Rinzel are prepared to overtake him on the depth chart.

Levshunov’s frame makes him a candidate to turn pro right away, whether that be in Chicago or spending the season with the Rockford IceHogs. Of course, it is entirely possible, if not likely, that Levshunov returns to Michigan State for his sophomore season before signing his entry-level contract. Should he return to Michigan State, he very well may sign at the end of Sparty’s season and join the Blackhawks at the end of the 2024–25 season.

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