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    Connor Bedard to Chicago? What NHL Draft Lottery win means for Blackhawks’ rebuild

    By Scott Powers, Mark Lazerus and Corey Pronman

    The Chicago Blackhawks won the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery on Monday, landing the opportunity to select star prospect Connor Bedard at No. 1. Here’s what you need to know:

    The Athletic’s instant analysis:

    What does this mean for the Blackhawks’ rebuild?

    It certainly accelerates the plan. Bedard doesn’t fix all of the Blackhawks’ issues and make them Stanley Cup contenders overnight, but he can certainly get them there quicker. General manager Kyle Davidson will be thinking differently about the coming years. He’ll immediately begin looking to put more talent around Bedard come next season. They’ll want him to play with high-end players. This free-agent class isn’t amazing, but there are a couple of players who have played with star players in the past and it’ll be that type of talent Davidson will want to put around Bedard. Lukas Reichel may no longer be the No. 1 forward prospect in the organization, but he’ll be fine with that. Reichel and Bedard could be a dangerous duo for the next decade. — Powers

    Did this make this season’s tank worth it?

    Of course, right? The Blackhawks may have sort of messed up this season by winning too much, but they were going to get a star talent regardless with a top-five pick. Bedard was obviously their dream all along and it came true. — Powers

    Where will Bedard slot into the lineup?

    He instantly becomes Chicago’s No. 1 center, and could form a dynamic duo with the 2020 first-round pick Reichel, who had 15 points in 23 games as primarily a left wing this season. The question is: Who plays on the right side of that line? The free-agent pool is relatively weak this summer, but Chicago immediately becomes a more attractive destination because of the opportunity to play with Bedard. A familiar veteran such as Tyler Johnson, Andreas Athanasiou or Taylor Raddysh could take that spot, but the arrival of Bedard expedites the process dramatically and means free agency just became a lot more interesting. — Lazerus

    What it means off the ice

    On Monday night, the Blackhawks team store had a half-dozen Patrick Kane jerseys and a handful of Jonathan Toews jerseys hanging in the window, along with one lonely Seth Jones shirsey. Expect a lot of No. 98 jerseys to take over this summer once the pick is official. With the Blackhawks trading Kane and telling Toews he would not be offered a new contract, Chicago lucks into an immediate replacement for the face of the franchise. Jersey sales will go up, ticket sales will go up, national television games will go up. The Blackhawks hope Bedard will be the leader of their on-ice turnaround. They know he’ll be the leader of their off-ice turnaround. — Lazerus

    Scouting report on Bedard

    Bedard is a potential franchise-changing No. 1 prospect. His skill and shot are legit game-breaking attributes. His ability to beat defenders one-on-one is among the best I’ve ever seen by a 17-year-old, and the pace at which he displays that elite skill is going to allow him to execute those type of skilled plays in the NHL. Bedard is a highly imaginative puck handler and a very creative passer. That, combined with the fact his wrist shot is a top-tier 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 rises in Corey Pronman’s latest ranking

    The only downside to his game is his frame, which has some scouts wondering if he gets pushed off to the wing in the NHL. He isn’t a pushover though, as he plays hard and has a physical edge in his game. Given his success as a junior center, his strong skating and his high compete level, I think whoever drafts him will have to try him down the middle and move to the wing if it doesn’t work. If he is a wing, he could still have a potential Patrick Kane/Nikita Kucherov type of 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 to land the No. 1 pick at 25.5 percent. The Blue Jackets (13.5 percent) were next, followed by the Blackhawks (11.5),  Sharks (9.5) and Canadiens (8.5).

    Teams were able to jump 10 spots in the lottery but could not fall more than two spots, meaning the 11 teams that finished at the bottom of the standings had a shot to pick No. 1. Teams that finished 12th to 16th in the standings were unable to move up to the No. 1 pick via the lottery. If one of those five teams had won, they would have moved up 10 spots in the 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.

    Required reading

    (Photo: Larry MacDougal / AP)



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