Evaluating Every Blackhawks First-Round Pick of the 2024 Draft

Friday night marked another big day in the Blackhawks rebuild.
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - First Round / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages
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Pick 27: Marek Vanacker - LW - Brantford Bulldogs (OHL)

Marek Vanacker
2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Portraits / Candice Ward/GettyImages

The front office wasn’t satisfied with making just two selections on Friday. For the second time in three years, Chicago moved back into the first round to snag a third selection. In 2022, it was to get defenseman Sam Rinzel. This year, it was to get Marek Vanacker from the Brantford Bulldogs of the OHL. 

Vanacker brings a knack for scoring to the table following a strong second season in the OHL. The Ontario native posted scored 36 goals and collected 46 assists (82 points) in 68 games. Vanacker is a grinder and while he won’t overpower defenders, he can get by them with his speed. He is scrappy enough to win plenty of puck battles as well. Along with his stellar regular season with Brantford, Vanacaker was a point-per-game player in the playoffs. His three goals and four assists in six games in the Bulldogs opening-round series with Ottawa. 

The most impressive part of Vanacker’s recent campaign is that he did it on a torn labrum. The forward will need four to six months to recover before he’ll hit the ice again next season. 

Kyle Davidson discovered Vanacker on a trip he made to watch current Blackhawks prospect Nic Lardis play. The only thing is, Lardis got injured after Davidson booked the trip. The Hawks General Manager decided to make the trip to Brantford regardless and found a potential key piece to the puzzle of the rebuild because of that choice. 

If Vanacker can slot in as a middle-six winger down the line, the Hawks will certainly take it. They are hoping he’ll add more muscle to his frame, which will only help his physical game improve.