If the Blackhawks lose out on the Connor Bedard Gamble (2024-2025 Prospects)
I imagine at least some Hawks fans are seeing a picture of Michael Misa for the first time. For would-be junkies like me, Misa is a household name. Simply put, we might not have to wait that long for the next Matthews, McDavid, or Bedard. He could arrive in the 2025 draft in the form of dynamic OHL youngster Michael Misa.
What if I told you there’s a 15-year-old already breaking records once held by Connor McDavid in the OHL? Misa, likely No. 1 in 2025, has 35 points in 26 competitions, mostly against 17-20 year olds. Not only that, he’s already 5’11, so his projection to a center is typical NHL-sized.
John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid and Shane Wright. Only a few of the players are given the very rare designation of “Exceptional Status” in the CHL. Michael Misa is the last to receive this honor. Long story short… It’s early days, but you should get to know this player.
It doesn’t end there with 2025 either. USHL star James Hagens is already a likely top 3 candidate. The New York native is already showing pro hands and scoring skills. I expect it to be a name that Blackhawks fans will keep up with.
To rewind a little, the 2024 draft class will also be a class that appears to have tremendous future NHL talent at the helm. We should all know a few names, like D Aron Kiviharju.
The Dane LD is already a great skater. He was probably never an outstanding defender like a Hedman or Ekblad, but rather in the camp of Cale Makar or Rasmus Dahlin. You can see from the camp video above the ability to skate with the puck in all situations while maintaining position with his sight up at all times. I expect he’ll be a top 4 pick in the 2024 draft and a player Chicago should keep a close eye on.
There are 3 other players in the 2024 class that I can already see as top 5 picks. Let’s start with Macklin Celebrini. Mack should be familiar with Chicagoland as he currently plays for the Steel. On a similar path to Adam Fantili, Celebrini is a Canadian who chose the USHL/College route in his draft 1 and 2 years. He will be a freshman at Boston University next season. Expect him to be a top 3 pick.
Next up is Cole Eiserman. Cole is a goalscorer, pure and simple. By the time he was 14 in AAA, he had 97 goals and 154 points in 50 games. Fast forward 2 seasons and the 16-year-old winger is still producing over a point a game in the USHL as a 16-year-old. I could see him in the top 5 and the Blackhawks are definitely looking for him as we speak.
For 2024, finally meet Berkly Catton. The Canadian center finds its way into the WHL. The Western Hockey League tends to be the more physical of the CHL, so it’s something to keep in mind when you see Catton by almost a point per against much older competition. I expect Catton will quickly become one of the WHL’s star centers as he gains in physique.
Even though I know it’s way too early. There is ALREADY a standout candidate for 2026: Gavin McKenna. He’s 14 so it’s a little early to get into his game but you should keep him on your watch list. He’s playing for Medicine Hat at 14, which is just amazing.
So if the Blackhawks surprisingly end up with the likes of Leo Carlsson, Will Smith, or Zach Benson in this draft, that’s not the end of our gamble (as it is with any rebuild). There are star prospects in the next 2 drafts that would quickly change the direction of our team. What I’ve seen so far, keep an eye on Misa. He could be the next Connor Bedard… just 2 years later.