Could Michigan State hockey have the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft?

Michigan v Michigan State
Michigan v Michigan State / Michael Miller/ISI Photos/GettyImages

Michigan State hockey could very well have the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NHL draft. That isn't a sentence that has been uttered in East Lansing for who knows how long. But that is the reality of where the program now is under second-year head coach Adam Nightingale.

The Spartans are coming off a magical season that saw them win the Big Ten regular season and tournament championship, before ultimately coming one win short of a Frozen Four appearance. With all that success, nobody is surprised to hear that the Spartans have some of the best players in the country and some of the best players in this year's draft class.

In a post shared on X by Justin Spiro, ESPN's latest mock draft has Michigan State defenseman Artyom Levshunov going No. 2 overall to the Chicago Blackhawks in the upcoming NHL draft. He is coming off a huge freshman season that saw him win Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year and Big Ten Freshman of the Year. He also was a first-team All-Big Ten selection as well. Artyom played on the Spartans' top defensive line this season and recorded a Big Ten best +27 plus/minus this season. He also was tied for sixth in the Big Ten in assists and eleventh in the conference in points.

Accomplishing all of this in college is impressive on its own, but the fact that Levshunov did it as a freshman is even more so. According to ESPN, he is the "consensus best defender in the draft class." ESPN also shared that "He could be an impactful two-way defensemen at the NHL level. He makes a good first pass, finds shooting lanes and is a dominant force."

The exciting thing about the NHL draft is that players can continue to play in college after being selected by a team. That decision ultimately is up to Levshunov and the NHL team that selects him, but I think there is a good chance we could see him play another season for Michigan State. Based on how young he is and the fact that he is still a pretty raw player, I could see an NHL team wanting to give him a chance to develop in college for another season.

It's an extremely exciting time for Michigan State hockey. It's been a long time since MSU has had success on the ice and with getting players into the NHL, but now that both of those things are heppening the sky is the limit with the program.