Greg WyszynskiESPN4 minutes of reading
The The Chicago Blackhawks won the NHL Draft Lottery on Monday night, earning the right to draft Connor Bedard.
The Blackhawks last picked winger Patrick Kane first overall in 2007. Chicago had the third-best odds of winning the first overall pick at 11.5%.
Chicago is fully committed to rebuilding this offseason, including the trade that sent Kane to the New York Rangers and parting ways with free agent captain Jonathan Toews. That rebuild got a big boost with the development of Bedard, a 17-year-old Canadian junior center who many believe is a once-in-a-generation talent.
“I’m a little speechless to be honest, but really excited,” Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said. “Anytime you can add elite talent, like we’re able to add in this draft with the first overall pick, it’s a monumental thing. I’m really excited for the fan base and the city. But ultimately, it’s a piece. . . It’s a big piece, but it’s about building this team. A piece.”
The Anaheim Ducks had the best odds at 18.5% after finishing at the bottom of the NHL standings. They received the second overall pick. The Ducks have never been selected first overall, but Bobby Ryan (2005) and Oleg Tverdovsky (1994) were selected second overall. They are in line to select University of Michigan center Adam Fantilly, who is considered the second-best prospect in the draft.
“You never want to go down in the draft and hold on to the top pick, but this year’s top players give us an opportunity to select an elite player with the second overall pick,” Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek said. “We are now in a unique position to build on one of the best players available and add to the exciting young players already in our organization.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets had a 13.5% chance of getting the first overall pick, but dropped to third.
The lottery involved 16 teams not participating in the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Bedard, 17, is considered a once-in-a-generation talent by many draft experts and is shaping up to be the franchise’s best pick since Connor McDavid went first overall to the Edmonton Oilers in 2015.
Draft pundit Craig Button, a former NHL general manager, told ESPN: “I think Connor Bedard changes the fortunes of a franchise.”
He was the first Western Hockey League player granted “exceptional status” by Hockey Canada, allowing the 15-year-old Bedard to play full-time in the junior league. The North Vancouver native had 271 points, including 134 goals, in 134 games with the WHL’s Regina Pats. This season, he scored 143 points with 71 goals for the Pats.
His legend grew at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, where he broke the Canadian player’s career goals (17) and points (36) records. He also set the world junior record for points by an under-19 player, topping Jaromir Jagr’s old mark.
Fantilli, an 18-year-old from Toronto, has been the consensus all-year no. 2 was selected. The 6-foot-2 center won the 2023 Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s men’s hockey player of the year after scoring 65 points in 36 games as a freshman at the University of Michigan.
This draft is considered one of the deepest in recent years.
Other players behind Bedard include US Under-18 National Team Development Program center Will Smith, a Massachusetts native who worked at Boston College, Swedish center Leo Karlsson, considered an elite two-way player, and Russian winger Matvi Michkov, a dynamic goal scorer. The contract with the Kontinental Hockey League prevents him from playing in the NHL until the 2026-27 season.
There are two lottery draws, first pick and second pick. Thanks to an NHL rule change in 2021, teams can move up to a maximum of 10 spots in the lineup. If a team ranked 12-16 wins the first lottery, it will move up the maximum number of slots and the lowest ranked team will be ranked No. 1. The same rules apply to the overall second lottery draw. pick up
Lottery odds this season:
1. Ducks: 18.5% 2. Blue Jackets: 13.5% 3. Blackhawks: 11.5% 4. San Jose Sharks: 9.5% 5. Montreal Canadiens: 8.5% 6. Arizona Coyotes: 7.5% 7. Philadelphia 8.6. 5% Washington Capitals: 6% 9. Detroit Red Wings: 5% 10. St. Louis Blues: 3.5% 11. Vancouver Canucks: 3% 12. Ottawa Senators: 2.5% 13. Buffalo Sabers: 2% 14. Pittsburgh 1.5% 15. .Nashville Predators: 0.5% 16. Calgary Flames: 0.5%
The NHL also implemented a rule that a team could not win the lottery more than twice in a five-year span starting with the 2022 lottery.
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