Blackhawks Win 2023 NHL Draft Lottery

The Chicago Blackhawks emerged as the winners of the NHL draft lottery on Monday night, marking their first victory since 2007. This achievement grants them the opportunity to select Connor Bedard in the upcoming draft, a highly regarded talent often described as a once-in-a-generation player. At 17 years old, Bedard is considered exceptional by draft experts, positioning him as the best prospect since Connor McDavid was chosen as the first overall pick by the Edmonton Oilers in 2015.

Bedard holds the distinction of being the first player from the Western Hockey League to receive “exceptional status” from Hockey Canada, enabling him to play full-time in the junior league at the age of 15. During his time with the WHL’s Regina Pats, he amassed impressive statistics, including 271 points in 134 games, with 134 goals. This season alone, he achieved remarkable numbers of 143 points and 71 goals for the Pats.

Bedard further solidified his reputation at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, where he broke Canadian records for career goals (17) and points (36). Additionally, he set a world juniors record for points by a player under 19 years old, surpassing the previous record held by Jaromir Jagr.

The Chicago Blackhawks last held the first overall pick in the draft in 2007 when they selected winger Patrick Kane. This year, they entered the draft lottery with the third-best odds, 11.5%, but luck was on their side. This season, the Blackhawks fully committed to a rebuilding phase, involving the trade of Patrick Kane to the New York Rangers and parting ways with free agent and captain Jonathan Toews.

Expressing his excitement, Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson stated, “I’m a little bit speechless to be honest, but really, really excited. 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.”

On the other hand, the Anaheim Ducks, who finished last in the NHL standings, possessed the highest odds at 18.5% entering the draft lottery. While they didn’t secure the first overall pick, they did secure the second overall pick, marking their first-ever opportunity at the top spot. The Ducks are now poised to select Adam Fantilli, a center from the University of Michigan, who is widely considered the second-best prospect in the draft.

Fantilli, an 18-year-old from Toronto, has consistently been projected as the second overall pick throughout the year. Standing at 6-foot-2, he recently received the 2023 Hobey Baker Award, an accolade bestowed upon the NCAA’s top men’s hockey player, after amassing 65 points in 36 games during his freshman year at Michigan.

The draft lottery exclusively involved the 16 teams that failed to qualify for the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs.