NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BVM) – The long-awaited decision on which team would get the opportunity to draft Connor Bedard is over. The Chicago Blackhawks won the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery and have been awarded the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft which means Bedard is heading to Chicago.
The Bedard sweepstakes have been a talking point throughout the NHL season with multiple teams vying for the best odds to get the 17-year-old prospect from North Vancouver. In total, there were 11 teams invited to the lottery with the Anaheim Ducks having the best odds with a 18.5% chance to get the first overall pick and the Vancouver Canucks at No. 11 with a 3% chance. Chicago had the third best odds to get the first pick.
It has been the most hyped-up NHL draft lottery in the last 10 years and for good reason. Bedard is being compared to current Edmonton Oilers star Connor McDavid and is considered by anyone with even a sliver of knowledge about hockey to be a generational-type player, one that can completely change the trajectory of a rebuild by joining an NHL roster.
The hype around the Canadian center has been there since he was just a kid playing in North Vancouver but it turned into a frenzy following the 2023 IIHF World Juniors Championship. Bedard led Canada to a gold medal, had 23 points in seven games and became Canada’s all-time leading scorer for the tournament with 36 points. His game-winning goal against Slovakia in the quarterfinals went viral and NHL fans began to pray even harder that their team would get the No. 1 pick in the draft.
OH MY GOODNESS! 😱
— For Future Considerations (@PodcastFFC) January 3, 2023
“I’ve been going to that tournament for more than two decades,” an NHL scout said to ESPN about Bedard’s performance at the world juniors. “And what Connor Bedard did, especially with all of the attention and eyes on him, is as impressive of an individual performance as you’ll ever see. The only way I can describe it is pure dominance.”
Prior to all of that, he was just this rumored wunderkind from North Vancouver. But by the time he was 13 years old, he was already being compared to his hero, Sidney Crosby, and was being touted as the future of hockey.
The next year, as a 14-year-old, he earned exceptional status from Hockey Canada which allowed him to enter the highest levels of Canadian Junior Hockey before he turned 16. That awarded him a congratulatory call from Wayne Gretzkey and he was drafted No. 1 overall by the WHL’s Regina Pats in the 2020. McDavid and Toronto Maple Leafs forward John Tavares had also been allowed to join the WHL’s eastern counterpart, the Ontario Hockey League, prior to being 16 years old.
This past season, Bedard led the WHL in scoring with 71 goals and 143 points in 57 games. He sold out his first NHL stadium when the Pats visited Calgary and played at the Saddledome. The home of the Calgary Flames had more than 17,000 people in it just to watch Bedard play.
2 minutes of Connor Bedard goals this season pic.twitter.com/DGE63gIoaK
— Dimitri Filipovic (@DimFilipovic) May 8, 2023
The hype around Bedard is real and he lives up to it. His hockey IQ is prolific and his vision on the ice allows him to make a difference every time he’s out there. However, it’s his shot that has caught the attention of scouts, hockey executives and NHL players.
“It’s remarkable to see,” McDavid told ESPN about Bedard’s shot. “He shoots it so hard and with such a quick release.”
The draft is set to start June 28 in Nashville, Tennessee and it is safe to assume that once things get under way, Chicago will quickly make the first selection of the draft and Bedard will be off the board.