By Scott Powers, Mark Lazerus and Corey Pronman
The Chicago Blackhawks won the 2023 NHL Draft lottery on Monday, offering the opportunity to select star prospect Connor Bedard at first overall. Here’s what you need to know:
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What does this mean for the Blackhawks’ rebuild?
It certainly speeds up the plan. Bedard doesn’t solve all of the Blackhawks’ problems and make them Stanley Cup contenders overnight, but he can certainly get them there faster. General manager Kyle Davidson will think differently in the years to come. He will immediately start looking to put more talent around Bedard next season. They will want him to play with high level players. This class of free agents isn’t amazing, but there are a few players who have played under star players in the past and it’s going to be that kind of talent that Davidson will want to put around Bedard. Lukas Reichel may not be the organization’s No.1 striker anymore, but he’ll be fine with that. Reichel and Bedard could be a dangerous duo for the next decade. — Powers
Was it worth the tank this season?
Of course not ? The Blackhawks may have ruined this season by winning too much, but they were still going to get star talent with a top-five pick. Bédard was obviously their dream from the beginning and it came true. — Powers
Where will Bedard fit into the lineup?
He instantly becomes Chicago’s No. 1 center and could form a dynamic duo with 2020 first-round pick Reichel, who has 15 points in 23 games as a mostly left-winger this season. The question is: who plays on the right side of this line? The free agent pool is relatively small this summer, but Chicago is immediately becoming a more attractive destination due to the opportunity to play with Bedard. A familiar veteran such as Tyler Johnson, Andreas Athanasiou or Taylor Raddysh could take that spot, but Bedard’s arrival vastly speeds up the process and means free agency just got a whole lot more interesting. — Lazerus
What it means off the ice
On Monday night, the Blackhawks team store had half a dozen Patrick Kane jerseys and a handful of Jonathan Toews jerseys hanging in the window, along with a lone Seth Jones shirsey. Expect plenty of No. 98 jerseys to take over this summer once the official pick. With the Blackhawks trading Kane and telling Toews he won’t be offered a new contract, Chicago has the chance to replace the face of the franchise immediately. Jersey sales will increase, ticket sales will increase, nationally televised games will increase. The Blackhawks are hoping Bedard will lead their on-ice turnaround. They know he will be the leader in their off-ice turnaround. — Lazerus
Bédard reconnaissance report
Bedard is a potential No. 1 prospect to switch franchises. His skill and shooting are legitimate revolutionary attributes. His ability to beat defenders one-on-one is among the best I’ve ever seen from a 17-year-old, and the pace at which he displays this elite skill will allow him to execute these kinds of skillful plays. in the NHL. Bedard is a very imaginative puck handler and a very creative passer. That, combined with the fact that his wrist shot is a top NHL weapon from anywhere in the offensive zone, makes him a projected nightmare for NHL coaches to stop on the power play.
2023 NHL Draft: Connor Bedard No. 1, Will Smith climbs Corey Pronman’s latest standings
The only downside to his game is his frame, which has some scouts wondering if he’ll be pushed to the wing in the NHL. He is not a pushover, however, as he plays hard and has a physical advantage in his game. Given his success as a junior center, good skating and high level of competition, I think whoever picks him up will have to try him in the middle and switch to the wing if it doesn’t work. If he’s a winger, he could still have a potential Patrick Kane/Nikita Kucherov-type impact on a franchise. — Pronman
The Ducks, by virtue of finishing with the league’s worst record, entered Monday’s lottery with the best chance of landing the No. 1 pick at 25.5%. The Blue Jackets (13.5%) followed, followed by the Blackhawks (11.5), Sharks (9.5) and Canadiens (8.5).
Teams were able to jump 10 places in the lottery but could not drop more than two places, meaning the 11 teams that finished bottom of the standings had a chance of picking No. 1. Teams that finished 12th at 16th in the standings were unable to advance to the No. 1 pick via lottery. If any of those five teams had won, they would have moved up 10 spots in order and Anaheim would have automatically been declared the winner.
Bedard, Adam Fantilli, Matvei Michkov and Leo Carlsson are the unanimous top four prospects in the 2023 draft.
(Photo: Larry MacDougal/AP)