The Chicago Blackhawks won the NHL draught lottery on Monday night, allowing them to choose Connor Bedard.
The Blackhawks’ previous first-round pick was winger Patrick Kane in 2007. At 11.5%, Chicago had the third-best bet to earn the first overall selection this year.
This season, Chicago completely committed to a rebuild, including a deal that sent Kane to the New York Rangers and the departure of free agency captain Jonathan Toews. The possibility of drafting Bedard, a 17-year-old Canadian junior centre who many feel is a generational talent, has given the reconstruction a significant lift.
“To be honest, I’m a little speechless, but really, really excited,” said Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson. “Anytime you can add elite talent, as we will be able to do with the first overall pick in this draught, it’s a monumental thing.” I’m really happy for the fans and the city. However, it is just one piece in the end. It’s a significant element, but it’s just one of many that will contribute to the formation of this squad.”
After finishing last in the NHL standings, the Anaheim Ducks had the highest odds (18.5%). They were able to acquire the second overall selection. The Ducks have never taken first overall, however Bobby Ryan (2005) and Oleg Tverdovsky (1994) were both chosen second overall. They are set to choose centre Adam Fantilli of the University of Michigan, who is regarded as the draft’s second-best prospect.
“You never want to move down in the draught and lose the first pick, but the top players this year give us an opportunity to select an elite player with the second overall pick,” Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek said. “We are now in a unique position to draught one of the best available players and add to the exciting young players already in our organisation.”
The Columbus Blue Jackets had a 13.5% chance of taking first overall, but instead finished third.
Many sports experts see Bedard, 17, as a generational prospect and the finest franchise building component since Connor McDavid went first overall to the Edmonton Oilers in 2015.
As former NHL general manager Craig Button told ESPN, “I think Connor Bedard changes the fortunes of a franchise.”
Bedard was the first Western Hockey League player to be awarded “exceptional status” by Hockey Canada, enabling him to play full-time in the junior league at the age of 15. In 134 games with the WHL Regina Pats, the North Vancouver native has 271 points, including 134 goals. For the Pats this season, he has 143 points and 71 goals.
His fame expanded during the 2023 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, when he set career highs for Canadian players in goals (17) and points (36) scored. He also broke Jaromir Jagr’s world juniors record for points by a player under the age of 19.
Fantilli, an 18-year-old native of Toronto, has been the consensus No. 2 overall choice all season. The 6-foot-2 centre earned the NCAA’s best men’s hockey player award in 2023 after scoring 65 points in 36 games as a rookie at Michigan.
This draught is regarded as one of the most in-depth in recent years.
Behind Bedard are U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Programme centre Will Smith, a Massachusetts native committed to Boston College, Swedish centre Leo Carlsson, an elite two-way player, and Russian winger Matvei Michkov, a dynamic goal scorer whose contract with the Kontinental Hockey League would prevent him from playing in the NHL until the 2026-27 season.
There are two lottery drawings, one for the first and one for the second. Due to an NHL rule change in 2021, clubs may only go up 10 positions in the standings. If a team placed 12-16 wins the first lottery, it will move up the maximum number of spots, while the club at the bottom of the rankings will be rated first. The rules for the lottery draw for the second overall choice remain the same.
This year’s lottery chances were:
- Ducks: 18.5% 2. Columbus Blue Jackets: 13.5% 3. Chicago Blackhawks (11.5%) 9.5% for the San Jose Sharks 5. Canadiens de Montréal: 8.5% 6. Arizona Coyotes: 7.5% 7. Philadelphia Flyers: 6.5% 8. Washington Capitals: 6% 9. Detroit Red Wings: 5% 10. St. Louis Blues: 3.5% 11. Vancouver Canucks: 3% 12. Ottawa Senators: 2.5% 13. Buffalo Sabres: 2% 14. Pittsburgh Penguins: 1.5% 15. Nashville Predators: 0.5% 16. Calgary Flames: 0.5%.
According to the NHL, 14 balls numbered 1-14 were put in a lottery machine for each of the two lotteries. The system chose four balls at random. The resultant four-number series was compared to a table that displays all conceivable combinations and the clubs to which each was allocated. The Blackhawks were allocated the numbers (4-5-9-13) that were ousted in the first drawing, followed by the Ducks (6-8-9-10) in the second drawing, according to the chart.
Starting with the 2022 lottery, the NHL also established a rule stating that a club cannot win the lottery more than twice in a five-year period.
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