Bedard the Blackhawk: Connor goes No. 1 overall

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Chicago Blackhawks made the apparent official Wednesday night time, choosing Regina Pats heart Connor Bedard with the primary total choose within the 2023 NHL draft.

Bedard, 17, has been known as a generational expertise due to his taking pictures means and puck possession expertise. The North Vancouver native was probably the most hyped prospect since Connor McDavid was drafted first total by the Edmonton Oilers in 2015.

“It is unbelievable. I am unable to it put into phrases,” Bedard stated in his Wednesday information convention. “Rising up, they have been happening their runs, successful [Stanley] Cups. You see the United Heart going loopy and all of Chicago getting behind them. I am so pleased to a part of the Blackhawks group.”

Chicago earned the proper to pick out Bedard after successful the 2023 NHL draft lottery, regardless of having solely the third-best odds to win the No. 1 choose this 12 months at 11.5%. The Blackhawks final chosen first total in 2007, once they took winger Patrick Kane.

Bedard was granted distinctive standing as a 15-year-old to play within the Western Hockey League, the primary time the WHL granted such an exception. This 12 months, he was the inaugural winner of the IIHF Male Participant of the Yr Award, main Canada to the gold medal on the World Junior Championship with a tournament-best 23 factors (9 targets, 14 assists) in January. He swept the participant of the 12 months, high prospect and high scorer awards on the Canadian Hockey League awards after recording 143 factors (71 targets, 72 assists) in 52 video games for the Pats.

“We’ll see. We’ll let him determine that out,” Blackhawks common supervisor Kyle Davidson stated, when requested about his expectations for Bedard. “He is a reasonably particular participant, a really particular individual. We’ll let him decide how particular that first season is.”

Bedard’s arrival alerts a brand new period for the Blackhawks, who accomplished a run of three Stanley Cups in six years in 2015. He joins a crew that completed with a .360 factors share within the standings, the worst season for Chicago since 2003-04. Kane was traded to the New York Rangers. The crew parted methods with captain Jonathan Toews, an unrestricted free agent, as properly.

“To begin with, I wish to make the crew. That is the No. 1 purpose. I wish to have an effect on the ice and within the room, to be a teammate and provides my all day-after-day. These are some issues I can management,” Bedard stated earlier than the draft Tuesday in Nashville.

The Blackhawks began constructing round Bedard earlier within the week once they acquired winger Taylor Corridor from the Boston Bruins. “He gained a Hart Trophy. He is had a fantastic profession, his expertise stage is exceptional. Enjoyable participant to look at, for positive,” Bedard stated.

Even with a phenom like Bedard, it may very well be a multiyear course of for Chicago to return to prominence. It took Alex Ovechkin three years to convey the Washington Capitals to the playoffs after being chosen first total in 2004. It took Jack Hughes of the New Jersey Devils 4 years after going first total in 2019.

“Pay attention, it does not must essentially should occur instantly, whether or not that is crew success or particular person success,” stated Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos, the primary total choose in 2008. “I feel he is going into a bit little bit of a unique state of affairs in Chicago, the place they’ve type of embraced the rebuild and it is clearly among the best hockey markets on the earth. It was possibly a bit simpler for me to go to Tampa and never have as a lot stress.”

Stamkos stated his recommendation to Bedard is to grasp the leap he is about to make.

“It is the perfect league on the earth and now you are competing towards guys who’re larger and stronger and extra skilled. So I do not assume he’ll have any drawback adjusting, but when he does, simply benefit from the second. It goes by quick,” he stated.

At No. 19 total, the Blackhawks chosen one other heart, Oliver Moore from the U.S. Nationwide Improvement Program.

Moore wasn’t a high line ahead for the USNDP, however his velocity allowed him to be a dynamic presence. The best way he can speed up, enter the zone and get a shot off with enviable velocity is what makes Moore a particular prospect, one who had 26 targets and 64 factors final season.

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