May 9, 2023 - Sports

Chicago Blackhawks get chance to draft Connor Bedard

Forward Connor Bedard of the Regina Pats skates for Team Red during the 2023 Kubota CHL Top Prospects Game Practice in January, 2023. Photo: Dennis Pajot/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks won the NHL draft lottery Monday night, jumping ahead of two other teams to secure the #1 pick.

Why it matters: It's all but assured the Hawks will be picking franchise-altering prospect and generational talent Connor Bedard.

What they're saying: "I'm a little bit speechless to be honest," Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said right after the announcement.

The backdrop: The 17-year-old center from North Vancouver put together one of the greatest junior hockey careers ever, capping it off with a mind-boggling pre-draft season in which he scored 100 goals in 83 games across all competitions, writes Axios Sports' Jeff Tracy.

  • At 14, he became the first Western Canadian to be granted "exceptional player status," allowing him join Canada’s top junior hockey league a year early.
  • At 15, in his first season with the Western Hockey League's Regina Pats, he recorded 28 points in 15 games against players often four to five years older than him.
  • At 16, he became the youngest player in WHL history to score 50 goals, recording 100 points (51 goals, 49 assists) in just 62 games.
  • At 17, he scored 143 points (71 goals, 72 assists) in 57 WHL games, averaging the most points per game (2.51) by any WHL player since 1991. He also led Canada to gold at World Juniors this past winter, scoring 23 points in seven games.

Context: The Blackhawks are coming off a terrible season, trading Patrick Kane and most likely losing Jonathan Toews. They were the last two remaining players from the Stanley Cup runs.

  • The last time the Hawks had the #1 pick was in 2007, when they selected Kane.

The bottom line: By adding Bedard, the team could accelerate its rebuild.

What we're watching: The Blackhawks say they sold $1.9 million in season tickets within an hour of securing the No. 1 pick.

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