How Artyom Levshunov fits on the Chicago Blackhawks, and why it's okay they passed on Ivan Demidov

After plenty of discussion, the Chicago Blackhawks made their move in the 2024 NHL Draft.

After Macklin Celebrini went No. 1 overall, the expected pick for months, Chicago opted for a top-rated defenseman in Artyom Levshunov from Michigan State over the high-ceiling prospect Ivan Demidov.

"Dream come true," Levshunov said after he was selected. "I’ve been waiting 18 years for this."

Here's how Levshunov fits on the Blackhawks, and why it's okay Chicago passed on the offensive-minded Ivan Demidov.

How Artyom Levshunov fits within the Chicago Blackhawks

You can never have too much of a good thing, right? For the Blackhawks, that includes defensemen in their development system.

The Blackhawks' have plenty of defensemen in their system. Some of those players include:

  • Sam Rinzel, 19
  • Ethan Del Mastro, 21
  • Wyatt Kaiser, 21
  • Nolan Allan, 20

Add 18-year-old Artyom Levshunov to the top of that list, now. The future of the Blackhawks' blue line is set and also solidified. 

Levshunov has a decision to make, though. Does he go back to Michigan State for his sophomore season or does he opt to go the AHL route? Either avenue would be beneficial for the rising sophomore.

"We'll see," Levshunov said after he was selected.

Levshunov has already won plenty of accolades at the college level. As a Spartan, he earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Freshman of the Year honors this past year.

Among all NCAA defensemen, he finished the 2023-2024 season ninth in points – second among all freshmen defensemen – 10th in goals and 12th in assists.

Of all the prospects in the 2024 NHL Draft, Levshunov is considered to be the most NHL ready. Pairing him with Connor Muprhy and Seth Jones, two veterans who might not figure into the Blackhawks' longer-term rebuild plans, would only be beneficial for a player that could anchor the Blackhawks' defense in the years to come.

Levshunov was seen as a safe pick to make. It's clear they opted for a hit instead of a maybe. At this point of the Blackhawks' rebuild, getting a safe player could play off in dividends on the blue lines.

Why it's okay the Blackhawks passed on Ivan Demidov

According to The Athletic, Chicago was "immensely intrigued by draft prospect Ivan Demidov’s offensive ability," which led to the discussion of Demidov vs. Levshunov.

The Blackhawks opted for Levshunov, leaving an addition to the Chicago offense alongside Connor Bedard much to be desired.

The Blackhawks' offense was hampered last year with injuries to Bedard and Taylor Hall. Now, with Hall getting healthy and Bedard getting a year of experience under him, getting a player like Demidov represented a chance for the Blackhawks to overhaul their offense.

There was some risk to consider. Demidov was considered a high-risk player because of his lack of games against high-level competition.

However, his electric style of play he provides is undeniable. Plus, the Blackhawks really, really need a spark on offense.

In the 2023-2024 season, Chicago finished dead last in the NHL with an average of 2.17 goals per game and a total of 178 goals scored.

Demidov could have been that juice. Instead, he heads to Montreal and the Blackhawks are still in the market for offensive help.

Still, it's okay that the Blackhawks passed on Demidov for a safer pick. There are other avenues to find an offensive playmaker, namely through free agency.

The Blackhawks, along with the rest of the NHL, need to spend money to reach the cap floor this offseason. An addition via free agency would make some sense, especially if they can work out a team-friendly deal that benefits the Blackhawks in the long run.

A familiar face is hitting the market in Teuvo Teräväinen, the winger that won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2015 alongside Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. He could fit alongside Bedard as an instant improvement to the offense.

That's just one name, too.

Adding a veteran winger next to Bedard would be a needed upgrade for the offense that has young offensive talent in Frank Nazar, Lukas Reichel and Landon Slaggert coming.

There will be plenty more chances to add offensive talent around Bedard. It's hard to fault the Blackhawks for going the safe route on defense while adding veteran offense elsewhere.


Chicago Blackhawks bolster their defense, select Artyom Levshunov No. 2 overall in 2024 NHL Draft

The Chicago Blackhawks continue their rebuild by focusing on the side opposite of Connor Bedard in the 2024 NHL Draft.