Hawks Insider

Bedard another reminder of why Hawks are rebuilding


The Blackhawks lost their 26th game of the season on Thursday after falling to the St. Louis Blues 3-1 at Enterprise Center. They are dead last in the NHL standings and currently have the best odds at landing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, which brings me to the point of this column.

Hours before the Blackhawks suffered yet another defeat, Connor Bedard trended on social media after notching a six-point night in Team Canada's 11-0 win over Austria at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship. Just 24 hours earlier, Bedard tied a Team Canada record with a seven-point performance in an 11-2 rout of Germany. 

Bedard has 14 points (six goals, eight assists) through three games for an incomprehensible points-per-game average of 4.67. He is four points away from tying Jaromir Jagr for most points by an Under-18 player ever at one World Junior tournament, four points away from tying Team Canada's record for most points in a single tournament (and most career points), and one goal away from breaking the national record for most career goals (Bedard and Jordan Eberle are now tied with 14).

For reference, the World Junior tournament is for players under the age of 20 and Bedard is still only 17. He's putting on a show and has been as advertised.

Bedard isn't just catching lightning in a bottle, either. He is picking up exactly where he left off from his season in the Western Hockey League.

After failing to record a point in the season opener with the Regina Pats, Bedard has 64 points (27 goals, 37 assists) in 27 games. He's on pace to finish with 59 goals and 81 assists for 140 points in 61 games. Those are video game numbers.

The Blackhawks have been spinning their wheels in mediocrity for years. The direction had wavered from year to year since they won their last Stanley Cup in 2015, and it was time for them to replenish the pipeline.

What I'm trying to say is, for as bad as things have been this season (and will continue to be), Bedard as the potential prize serves as a reminder of why the Blackhawks are rebuilding. You need players like him to change the trajectory of your franchise.

It's not guaranteed the team that finishes last ends up with the No. 1 overall pick. In that case, the "consolation" would be Adam Fantilli, Matvei Michkov or Leo Carlsson, all four of whom would have been first off the board in 2022. That's how strong the top end of the 2023 draft class is.

If the season ended today, the Blackhawks would have an 18.5 percent chance of getting No. 1 overall. The team that finishes second to last would come in at 13.5 percent. That's a 5-percent difference, and every 10th of a percentage point is crucial when you're talking about a player like Bedard.

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