The Chicago Blackhawks won the NHL Lottery and a chance to draft the Connor Bedard, a generational hockey talent. The Blackhawks jumped two positions over the Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks to claim the prize of the 2023 NHL draft. His impact for any franchise is undoubtedly unmeasurable.
The 17-year-old center with Regina led the Western Hockey League with 143 points (71 goals, 72 assists) in 57 regular-season games this season. He also had 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) in seven WHL playoff games and was the first league player in 11 years to score 10 or more goals in a single playoff series.
Connor Bedard Headed to the Windy City
It only seems fitting for Bedard to go to an original-six team. The Blackhawks reported that they had $2.5 million in advance ticket sales shortly after winning the lottery’s first slot. No doubt the Bedard merchandise will be selling like hotcakes at the Blackhawks team store. The hype is building, as it should for such an amazing player the likes of which we haven’t seen since Connor McDavid was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in 2015. Will he forever change the Chicago Blackhawks franchise? Indeed, and after all the controversy this organization has endured, it is a welcome sight.
The problem with Chicago winning the lottery is that they sold off most of their talent to be in a position to draft him. Gone are Alex DeBrincat, Patrick Kane, Max Domi, Sam Lafferty, Jake McCabe, and Jack Johnson. So even with Bedard, who will he be passing the puck to on his wing? Taylor Raddysh had 20 goals, 17 assists in 78 games. Another candidate has to be Lukas Reichel on the wing. He added seven goals and eight assists in 23 games. He turns 21 on May 17th. Other than that, he won’t have much talent to complement his incredible abilities.
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With a projected $41 million in cap space, GM Kyle Davidson will need to supplement his roster to take advantage of his new treasured prospect. And, there are rumors that Patrick Kane could come back. His stay with the New York Rangers wasn’t especially thrilling. He did collect five goals, seven assists in 19 regular season games and another goal with five assists in seven playoff games. You’ve got to at least consider that both Kane and the Hawks would support a reunion. Davidson seemed moot about bringing Kane back, but that was before he won the lottery. Kane on the wing of Bedard would be a sensational way for Kane to end his NHL career. It would be quite a feat to have the other first-overall pick from 2007 back where he played his entire career. We’ll see.
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The Real Rebuild Starts Now
Davidson has some work to do to build a competitive team around Bedard. It may take some time. Yet, the excitement in Chicago has got to be over the top. Whether adding Bedard to the now thin roster means they will win more games immediately is a stretch. He is one player (and an outstanding one at that) and can’t do it all. While Davidson did an admirable job tanking to get Bedard, the real work begins now. He will have the cap space to add good players this summer.
Could Max Domi (who loved playing in Chicago) be back? How about Andreas Athanasiou who is an unrestricted free agent and tallied 20 goals and 20 assists this past season? There will be endless options for Davidson to seek in order to bring back a winner to the Windy City. The work starts now, so let’s see what he does to get Bedard the support he needs to be successful. Davidson also has accumulated four second-round picks this summer in addition to the first-rounder from Tampa Bay to add to his wide range of possibilities going forward.
Watch out Connor McDavid, there’s a new Connor in the spotlight now.
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