Blackhawks Draft D Kevin Korchinski with No. 7 Overall Pick

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Blackhawks Draft D Kevin Korchinski with No. 7 Overall Pick

Chicago Blackhawks

With the seventh overall pick in the 2022 NHL Draft, acquired earlier on Thursday in the Alex DeBrincat trade, the Chicago Blackhawks select defenseman Kevin Korchinski.

Kevin Korchinski

DOB: June 21, 2004
Ht: 6-2 Wt: 185
Shoots: Left
2021-22 Team: Seattle Thunderbirds (WHL)

Ranked #16 by Corey Pronman (The Athletic)
Ranked #17 by Scott Wheeler (The Athletic)
Ranked #14 by Chris Peters (The Daily Faceoff)
Ranked #8 by FCHOCKEY
Ranked #11 by TSN/BOB McKENZIE
Ranked #18 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
Ranked #10 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
Ranked #7 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Ranked #13 by SPORTSNET
Ranked #17 by ISS HOCKEY
Ranked #13 by SMAHT SCOUTING

Tier: Projected middle of the lineup player

Skating: NHL average
Puck skills: NHL average
Hockey sense: NHL average
Compete: NHL average

Player comparable: Justin Schultz

Background: Korchinski was a top player for a good WHL team in Seattle this season and one of the best 17-year-old defensemen in the CHL. He was the 10th pick in his WHL Bantam Draft and invited to Canada’s U18 camp.

Analysis: Korchinski has a clear NHL toolkit. He’s a 6-foot-2 defenseman who can skate and has offensive abilities. He’s able to carry pucks up ice well with his skating, and has excellent edgework to evade pressure. Korchinski shows touch and vision with the puck to run a power play and create off the blue line due to his skill and feet. Despite his size and skating, he’s mediocre defensively. He doesn’t compete that hard on that side of the ice and is overly aggressive offensively. That’s a concern, but he generates so much offense that it makes up for those issues to an extent. Korchinski projects as a top-four defenseman.

Long, smooth-skating, point-per-game defencemen never last long in the draft, and Korchinski won’t linger unpicked. I think he’s in the same tier and conversation as Mateychuk, even if he slots five spots lower. He was one of the most improved players in the draft this year as he settled into an ambitious, free-flowing game that reminded a little of Stars first-rounder Thomas Harley at the same age, and his June birthday should give him even more runway next season. He handles the puck smoothly on his hip, his impressive footwork and maneuverability help him adjust to, away, and around pressure, and then he reads and anticipates the play at a high level so that he can make something happen out of all of his movement and carries.

I like his stick and his ability to use his feet to defend the rush and disrupt play (though he’s a better transition defender than a defensive zone one). His hallmark will always be his near-perfect posture and balance over his skates. He lives and dies trying to guide play with and without the puck with his mobility, pivots and directional changes. He can take over a game with his ability to transport the puck and roam. It was nice to see him look to attack into his shot (which isn’t particularly hard) more in the playoffs. There’s still some fine-tuning that needs to happen but Korchinski’s my fourth-ranked D for a reason and a worthwhile pick as high as the fringes of the top 10.

One of the biggest risers all season, Korchinski is still actively playing as we write this. He’s in the WHL championship series and, as a top-four defenseman for Seattle, has had a large hand in getting them there. Over the regular season, Korchinski put up big points with 65 in 67 games. He moves pucks exceptionally well, jumps into plays with regularity and has shown an improved goal-scoring skillset in the postseason. He had four regular-season goals and as I write this had six in the playoffs in 22 games. Korchinski is a bit on the lanky side right now, but he’s so co-ordinated and smooth. Once he fills out, I think his defending will become more effective and he can hold his own better along the walls and in the tough areas of the ice. Either way, a 6-foot-2 defenseman with fluid mobility and skills is an especially enticing option in the top half of the first round. I think he’s got a great shot to be a top-four guy down the line.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab