The Chicago Blackhawks struck gold on Monday by winning the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery and earning the chance to select generational prospect Connor Bedard.
Chicago entered the lottery with the third-best odds of winning the No. 1 overall pick at just 11.5%. The team finished last in the Central Division and second-last in the entire Western Conference with a 26-49-7 record and a minus-97 goal differential this past season.
"I'm feeling a little bit stunned to be honest," Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson said moments after the lottery balls fell Chicago's way.
The Anaheim Ducks, who came into Monday night as the favorite (25.5% chance) to win the top pick, ended up falling to second. Anaheim has now finished second in both the Bedard and Sidney Crosby lotteries. There will still be a juicy prize awaiting the Ducks, however, as you can't go wrong with either Michigan star and Hobey Baker winner Adam Fantilli or Russian phenom Matvei Michkov with the No. 2 selection.
The Columbus Blue Jackets — who entered with the second-best odds (a hair above the Blackhawks at 13.5%) — round out the top-three
Here's a complete look at how the lottery shook out and where each non-playoff team will select come draft night:
1) Chicago Blackhawks
2) Anaheim Ducks
3) Columbus Blue Jackets
4) San Jose Sharks
5) Montreal Canadiens
6) Arizona Coyotes
7) Philadelphia Flyers
8) Washington Capitals
9) Detroit Red Wings
10) St. Louis Blues
11) Vancouver Canucks
12) Ottawa Senators
13) Buffalo Sabres
14) Pittsburgh Penguins
15) Nashville Predators
16) Calgary Flames
There was no real stunning movement up or down the board among the top ten, with it shaking it pretty much exactly like the odds said it would until the top three, where the Blackhawks jumped from third to first.
Entering lottery night, each team's chances of landing the top pick were as follows:
Anaheim Ducks: 25.5%
Columbus Blue Jackets: 13.5%
Chicago Blackhawks: 11.5%
San Jose Sharks: 9.5%
Montreal Canadiens: 8.5%
Arizona Coyotes: 7.5%
Philadelphia Flyers: 6.5%
Washington Capitals: 6%
Detroit Red Wings: 5%
St. Louis Blues: 3.5%
Vancouver Canucks: 3%
The 2023 NHL Draft will be held June 28-29 in Nashville.
Bedard led the WHL in regular-season scoring after posting an egregious 71 goals and 143 points in 57 games. He continued his torrid pace in the playoffs and nearly willed an underdog Regina Pats squad to a colossal first-round upset of the Saskatoon Blades.
The phenom's magical season wasn't limited to just club play, either. The 17-year-old had four goals and eight points for Canada at the summer world juniors in Edmonton before setting the new Team Canada single-tournament scoring record at the 2023 WJC this past December/January with nine goals and 23 points over seven games as Canada claimed gold in both events. Bedard became Canada's all-time leading scorer at the world juniors in the process.
In all games combined this season — including WHL and international competition — Bedard tallied a ridiculous 94 goals and 100 assists for 194 points in 78 total games played (2.48 points per game). It was truly one of the best draft-year performances in hockey history.
Bedard finishes his storied junior career with 134 goals and 137 assists for 271 points in 134 career WHL games, all with the Pats. Here are some of his other noteworthy statistics and accomplishments:
Connor Bedard Facts
Bedard finished the 2022-23 regular season with 143 points (71 goals, 72 assists)
Bedard had 90 points (44 goals, 46 assists) over a 35-game points streak this season
Bedard had 22 goals over an 11-game goal streak this season
Bedard failed to register a point in only four regular-season games this year
Bedard finished with 36 more points than the WHL's next highest scorer (Prince George's Chase Wheatcroft)
Averaging 1.246 goals per game, Bedard had the 11th-best goals-per-game average in WHL history and the best ever for a 17-year-old player.
Averaging 2.509 points per game, Bedard had the best points-per-game average since 1990-91 (Ray Whitney, 2.569)
At the 2023 World Juniors, Bedard set the following records:
Most career points by a Canadian (36)
Most career goals by a Canadian (17)
Most points at a single tournament by a Canadian (23)
Most assists at a single tournament by a Canadian (14)
Most points at a single tournament by a U18 player (23)
In 2021-22, the then-16-year-old became the youngest player to score 50 or more goals in a WHL season
In 2021-22, Bedard was only the third 16-year-old to manage a 100-point season in the WHL, and the first to achieve the feat in the 21st century
Bedard was the first player to earn exceptional status in the WHL after scoring 43 goals and 84 points in 36 games for West Van Academy Prep's U18 team, leading the Canadian Sports School Hockey League (CSSHL) in scoring and earning MVP honours as a 14 year old