Blackhawks dive into interviews with Ivan Demidov, Artyom Levshunov and other NHL draft prospects

Phil Thompson, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Hockey

CHICAGO — The Chicago Blackhawks will have a tough decision between at least two highly touted prospects with the No. 2 pick at the NHL draft next week in Las Vegas.

They took a step closer to narrowing that choice.

Representatives from the Hawks began the first of several meetings Tuesday with prospects represented by agent Dan Milstein, including Russian winger Ivan Demidov and Michigan State defenseman Artyom Levshunov, who is Belarusian.

“Today’s the first day of our next five days,” Milstein, who represents mostly Russian clients, said about the private camp in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. “Over the next five days, he (Demidov) and all of my clients will be meeting with all 32 teams.”

Milstein declined to say how much time the Hawks plan to spend interviewing each player, but later said the team met with Levshunov for lunch and Demidov for dinner.

Last month Hawks general manager Kyle Davidson said he valued the opportunity to sit down with Demidov and others.

“You want to get to know them and what their motivations are, what their ambitions are,” he said.

Both players create a dilemma for any team forced to choose between them — unless a dark-horse third candidate pulls off a surprise.

Demidov is viewed by many draft watchers as a versatile forward who could help Connor Bedard take the Hawks’ offense to another level.

“Arguably he’s one of the most skilled players in the draft class,” Dan Marr, vice president of NHL Central Scouting, told the Chicago Tribune in May.

On the other hand, blueliners as well-rounded as Levshunov don’t come around every draft.


“He can contribute offensively, but he’s just got a complete game,” Marr said.

Demidov comes with some question marks, including two knee injuries last season and current recovery from an ankle injury, which Milstein addressed — to an extent.

“He’s rehabbing in Florida,” Milstein said. “He should be on the ice in about two weeks.”

Also, earlier reports listed Demidov as 5-foot-10 but Milstein said he is expected to measure 6-1 during Central Scouting’s official measurements Thursday.

“Because Russians haven’t participated in the international tournaments in a number of years, that’s probably the latest they have on him, from years ago,” the agent said.

Milstein confirmed that Demidov has one year left on his KHL contract but declined to comment on what level he’ll play at next season.

Over the past two seasons, Demidov has played a handful of games for SKA St. Petersburg at the senior KHL level.

Last season for the junior league (MHL) team, he recorded 23 goals and 37 assists in 30 regular season, and 11 goals and 17 assists in 17 playoff games.

Central Scouting, who ranks him as the No. 2 international skater in the draft, lists Demidov as a right wing, but his agent said he’s open to playing center.

“He can play left, right and center,” Milstein said. ”Absolutely no preference.”

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