Levshunov suiting up at Blackhawks development camp

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NHL Draft No. 2 pick still reminiscing about 'memorable moment' at the Sphere



CHICAGO -- Artyom Levshunov strode to the podium, the affable defenseman leaning his forearms on it as he addressed the media.



"So far, everything is good," the Chicago Blackhawks' No. 2 pick in the 2024 Upper Deck NHL Draft said during development camp on Wednesday. "No, everything is good. We're training, we're meeting everybody."



For the second consecutive summer, the Chicago Blackhawks ice hockey Jerseys' development camp was conducted entirely off the ice. No skating, practices or scrimmage games. So Levshunov took the opportunity to get to know some potential future teammates, take some cooking classes, get in some off-ice workouts and relax after a busy schedule leading up to last weekend's draft in Las Vegas.



"I'm nervous. It's a lot of work for me, getting drafted last month, it's been a little hectic for me, but it's been fun," he said. "We were in Vegas, you know? It was at the Sphere, it was awesome. It was a memorable moment for me, it was a great time."

Levshunov was named the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year, and was also named to the All-Big Ten First Team and All-Rookie Team at Michigan State. He is the third-youngest player in men's college hockey, second among freshmen at his position nationally, and tied for 10th among all defensemen with 35 points (nine goals, 26 assists) in 38 games.



A right-handed shooter, Levshunov led the Big Ten with a +27 rating throughout the season playing with a top defensive partner.



Mark Eaton, assistant general manager of player development for the Blackhawks, watched Levshunov several times at Michigan State.



"He's got good size, he skates well, and he has that 'it' quality where he wants to get the puck, he wants to be the game changer, he wants to be there in the biggest moments of the game," he said.



"And he's not a liability defensively. I think that's key for a defenseman, and he has a 200-foot game. So, there's just so much to like about him."



Levshunov is already familiar with several other Blackhawks prospects with Big Ten ties. They include center Oliver Moore, the No. 19 pick in the 2023 NHL draft out of Chicago, and defenseman Sam Rinzel, the No. 22 pick in the 2022 NHL draft out of Chicago. Both play at the University of Minnesota.



"He's big, he's quick, he's a two-way defender," Rinzel said. "When we're on the ice against them, you have to be on your toes. He likes to be sneaky, so wherever he is, you have to pay attention. Especially a winger or a forward, wherever he is on the ice, they have to be focused."



Moore said Levshunov's offensive awareness is the first thing people notice about him.



"In our pre-game scouting and other things, what we saw about him was: a strong offensive player, a good jumper, but also smart," Moore said. "Obviously, his skating ability and his size allow him to block shots well. He's an all-around player, and I think the NHL Chicago Blackhawks Mens Jerseys would definitely like to have him."



Will the Blackhawks keep him in Chicago or Rockford (their American Hockey League affiliate) this season? Levshunov reiterated Wednesday that he has not yet decided whether to return to Michigan State. He needs to talk it over with his family, the Blackhawks and his agent.



Eaton said keeping Levshunov in Rockford would bring advantages.



"Obviously, being able to be hands-on every day is a huge benefit," he said. "That's the principle we have with amateur rookies, is to realize that they all play for other coaches. They all play in different systems.



"So if we have the ability to keep him around and our great staff here in Rockford, our development staff, work with him every day to start closing the gap between where he is now and where he needs to be, I think that's just an added benefit."



Where Levshunov will go this fall remains to be seen, but he'll enjoy his week at development camp before making a decision.



"We're trying to get to know each other better, trying to get to know each other," he said of his teammates. "It's been a good experience for me, it's more of a learning week here, so it's good for our development."
 

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