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Artyom Levshunov officially has formal interview, dinner with Blackhawks

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BUFFALO, N.Y. — The Chicago Blackhawks officially met with defenseman Artyom Levshunov at the NHL Scouting Combine this week in Buffalo as they gather their final pieces of information ahead of the 2024 NHL Draft.

The Blackhawks hold the No. 2 overall pick, and the 18-year-old Belarusian defenseman is certainly part of the discussion. 

In addition to their 20-minute face-to-face interview, Levshunov said on Friday that he had dinner with the Chicago staff on Thursday night. He spoke to the team multiple times throughout the season, too.

"I talked with them a lot of times," Levshunov said. "We went to dinner with them last night and it was a good conversation with them. It was good to meet with them. We'll see. You never know."

On Friday afternoon, Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said the team remains undecided on who they'll take with the No. 2 overall selection.

The decision is expected to come down to Levshunov and offensively-gifted forward Ivan Demidov, who isn't at the combine but is scheduled to meet with the Blackhawks before the draft in Florida, where some of the top Russian-based prospects will gather for a mini showcase.

"I'd say the debate is still very real," Davidson said. "I thought we would have a little, maybe a decision at this point, which is not a bad thing at all, but I think there are some really good options out there. 

"It's something that we're knocking around, we'll take a little bit of a break after the combine and kind of revisit that in 7-10 days and start going through things again. We'll decide closer to [the draft], so no, we're still knocking things around."

It would be hard for the Blackhawks to pass up on Levshunov, who's a 6-foot-2, 208-pound right-handed shot defenseman. He can play in all situations and projects to be a player that can be a big-time minutes eater, which every Stanley Cup contender needs.

Levshunov was one of the youngest players in college hockey this past season and put up nine goals and 26 assists for 35 points in 38 games during his freshman campaign at Michigan State. He was excellent.

"I'm a pretty simple player, actually," Levshunov said. "I just try to play hockey and to do my job. I try to play fast on the ice, try to play smart and try to help the team win."

Levshunov will participate in the fitness testing portion on Saturday, and then make his way to Florida with Macklin Celebrini and a few of the other top draft-eligible prospects for the Stanley Cup Final before the focus shifts to the NHL Draft on June 28-29 in Vegas.

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