The Chicago Blackhawks won the NHL draft lottery and have reserved the rights to pick Connor Bedard, the league’s most anticipated drawing since Connor McDavid in 2015.
Connor Bedard is a top talent and stands with the likes of McDavid and three-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time playoff MVP Sidney Crosby, whom he idolized while growing up.
Chicago will aim to get back to hockey’s top spot with Bedard as the new face of the franchise, replacing Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews who combined to help them win the Cup three times from 2010-2015. After committing last year to a full-scale rebound, this is the Blackhawks’ first lottery win since 2007 when they got Kane.
Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly unveiled a placard featuring the Blackhawks logo at 8:22 p.m. EDT, signifying they had gotten the No. 1 pick and setting off a wild celebration among fans at a watch party. Chicago had the third-highest odds of winning the lottery at 11.5%, behind Anaheim’s 25.5% and Columbus’ 13.5%.
“I think I just said, ‘Wow’ because you understand the impact that a first overall pick can have — and having a first overall pick in the right year,” Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson said at a news conference in Chicago. “Hopefully that’s what we’ve got here. It can change a franchise, it can change a city and it can change an era in a team’s history. There’s a lot of weight to that and lot of significance to that.”
Anaheim won the lottery for the second pick and will get to choose from three talents: Canadian Adam Fantilli, Russian Matvei Michkov, and Swede Leo Carlsson.
Columbus will select the third, continuing the Blue Jackets’ run of lottery losing.
“We’re going to get a great player at 3, there’s no question about it in my mind,” GM Jarmo Kekalainen said on a video call with reporters. “Everyone wants to win the lottery, then everything is your control, and obviously everybody’s talked about a special player at the top of the rankings. But we’re confident that we’re going to get a big difference maker at 3.”
Connor Bedard, a native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, who will be 18 years old by July, leads all junior players across Canada with 72 goals and 143 points this past season while playing for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.
“No matter where we picked, I think we were going to get a great player,” Davidson said. “I don’t think it’s vindication. It’s certainly a nice bonus and a nice surprise to come away with No. 1.”
The Blackhawks’ manager will announce Connor Bedard at the start of the draft on June 28 in Nashville, Tennessee.