As the balls bounced around, teams who didn’t make the playoffs sat with bated breath in the hopes that they would get the luck and have the number 1 pick for next year’s NHL draft. With new generational prospect Connor Bedard on the draft block this year, teams are chomping at the bit to draft him.
Now, the storied Chicago Blackhawks will get the first crack at signing the phenom. 2007 was the last time the team held the No. 1 pick, and with that, they got Patrick Kane, who they sent over to the New York Rangers earlier this season. With the tank to rebuild the entire organization underway, the team will need more players to add in with Bedard, but the 17-year-old Canadian is widely regarded to be the difference maker any team would take.
“I’m a little bit speechless, to be honest, but really, really excited,” explained Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson. “Anytime you can add elite talent like we’ll be able to add in this draft with the first overall selection, it’s a monumental thing. I’m really excited for the fan base and the city. But in the end, it’s one piece. It’s a big piece, but it’s one piece that will go into building this team.”
This big piece combined with the number of other high-value talents set to hit free agency during the offseason could make the rebuild in Chicago incredibly short. Other teams like the Anaheim Mighty Ducks (number 2 overall) and Columbus Blue Jackers (number 3 overall) aren’t thrilled about seeing their draft hopes destroyed. Yet they can see the forest for the trees and see just how stacked this year’s draft class is compared to seasons before.
Getting a legendary tug like this from the NHL is something every team hopes for, but very few receive. While no player is a complete certainty, the NHL unlike every other league tends to have high draft picks work out more often than they flounder. For such a chaotic and wild sport, predicting who will be the difference maker seems incredibly simple for the powers that be.