This week, The Athletic is rolling out their under-22 organizational rankings. As a reminder, at the mid-point of last season they had the Blackhawks fifth in the league — before they landed Connor Bedard and Oliver Moore (and the rest of the Blackhawks’ 2023 draft selections). I’ll also note that fifth overall was with no tape of Frank Nazar at the University of Michigan. Now, this is not a prospect ranking, but it considers all players who are under 22. So the New Jersey Devils and Anaheim Ducks could make a legit case for the top spot. But it’s hard for me to think the Blackhawks aren’t in one of the top three overall spots.
They rolled out spots 25-32 on Monday. The only team to appear thus far in the Blackhawks’ division is the Colorado Avalanche at No. 25. Boston comes in dead last this year, followed by the Lightning, Islanders, Penguins, Oilers, Maple Leafs and Golden Knights.
One other note that came to mind as I looked at the teams at the bottom was the lack of high draft picks for the teams that lack young players. The Blackhawks own a first or second-round pick originally belonging to the Lightning, Leafs (two) and Islanders in the coming three drafts. Pittsburgh has two picks in the first six rounds in the 2024 draft. And Toronto has two of their six picks in the next three first two rounds remaining. So all of these teams better hit while it’s hot. And Toronto is going to have a decision to make with Auston Matthews and William Nylander in the coming 10 months.