Connor Bedard is going to the Chicago Blackhawks thanks to a big win in the NHL draft lottery that could alter the future of the storied Original Six franchise.
The Blackhawks won the lottery Monday night for the right to choose Bedard, the league’s most anticipated drawing since Connor McDavid in 2015. Bedard as a generational talent has drawn comparisons to McDavid and three-time Stanley Cup champion and two-time playoff MVP Sidney Crosby, whom he idolized growing up.
Chicago will try to get back to hockey’s mountaintop with Bedard as the new face of the franchise, replacing departed stars 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.”
“You can’t really control any of that stuff. But if you look at it, you didn’t want to see (Bedard) in Anaheim with the young talent they have being right down the street and have to face them all the time,” Grier said. “But anywhere in the first five, six, seven picks, there are lots of good players.
“Even though (Bedard’s) kind of on the special end, it’s not something I want to get into too much about picking and choosing who we’re going to be playing against.”
The Sharks now turn their attention to who will be available after Bedard and Fantilli are selected.
Swedish forward Leo Carlsson, listed by NHL Central Scouting at 6-foot-3 and 198 pounds, might be the third-best player on the board after he had 25 points in 44 regular season games for Örebro HK of the top-level Swedish Hockey League.
Carlsson has the size, but will probably be best served in the long run by remaining in Sweden for another season before he comes to North America full-time, which would seem to fit into Columbus’ rebuilding plans.
Russian winger Matvei Michkov, at 5-10 and 172 pounds, is rated fourth by NHL Central Scouting, as he recorded 20 points in 27 games for Sochi HC and might be close to Bedard’s equal in terms of sheer talent. The problem is he remains under a KHL contract for three more seasons.
Things can change, but that’s a long time for the Sharks to wait for help. Still, Grier seemed to be open to the possibility of taking Michkov.
“We’ll take in all of the information and consider all the options, the good and the bad, the pluses and minuses of all the players that will be options for us,” Grier said when asked about Michkov’s status.
“I think it’s something we’ll definitely discuss, but it’s not anything that’s going to take anyone off the table.”
If the Sharks go in a different direction than Michkov, winger Zach Benson of the WHL’s Winnipeg Ice or center Will Smith, a Boston College commit, could be the next-best options.
The NHL held two lotteries to determine the first and second overall selections, and the Sharks had a 9.5 percent chance of winning one or the other. They also had a 0.3 percent chance of landing at No. 3 and a 15.4 percent chance of staying at No. 4.
The Sharks have known since the end of the regular season last month that they had a 9.5 percent chance of winning the draft lottery, behind the Ducks (25.5 percent), Blue Jackets (13.5 percent), and Blackhawks (11.5).
San Jose was 32nd and last in the NHL standings on March 27, as they went 0-6-3 from March 7-25. But that was immediately followed by a three-game winning streak, and by the time the Sharks lost in overtime to the Colorado Avalanche on April 4, they were in 29th place overall, ahead of Anaheim, Columbus, and Chicago.
According to the NHL, for each of the two drawings, 14 balls, numbered 1 to 14, were placed in a lottery machine. The machine randomly selected four balls. The resulting four-number series (without regard to selection order) was matched against a chart that shows all possible combinations and the clubs to which each was assigned. The chart showed that the Blackhawks had been assigned the numbers (4-5-9-13) that were expelled in the first drawing, followed by the Ducks (6-8-9-10) in the second drawing.
The NHL also implemented a rule that a team cannot win the lottery more than twice in a five-year span, starting with the 2022 lottery.
NHL Draft lottery show begins
It’s 7 p.m. in the Central time zone, so let’s see who gets Connor Bedard. ESPN’s draft lottery coverage is under way. A lot of Connor Bedard highlights.
A few minutes discussion, and then a commercial. All 16 teams appear to be represented via Zoom, with some clear streams and some fuzzy ones.
Nashville Predators set for 4 picks in top 50
The Predators have their own first-and-second round picks in the top 50, and own Edmonton’s first round pick as well as Pittsburgh’s second round pick. The Oilers are still in the Western Conference playoffs, while the Penguins were just behind the Preds in the regular season standings.
Pittsburgh’s second round pick is set to be at No. 46 overall, so the Predators will have a chance to make a real impact on June 28 and 29 at Bridgestone Arena.
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