Everything changed for the Chicago Blackhawks when they were awarded the 1st overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft after winning the draft lottery. Some say it was fixed, others say it was luck. Regardless, it meant that the Hawks would without a doubt be drafting the most sought after prospect in maybe the sport's history.
Connor Bedard has been everything he was said to be, and more. After winning the NHL Rookie of the Month award in November with 6 goals and 6 assists, he followed it up with a repeat. He won the award for December with 5 goals and 10 assists. The league is taking notice, too. He has officially been named as an NHL All-Star, becoming the youngest player in history to do so at just 18 years old.
We are witnessing history before our very eyes with Bedard. He is doing things we have not seen since Connor McDavid entered the league, if that. As this is unfolding, Blackhawks fans everywhere have in the back of their mind the thought that the front office in Chicago simply cannot screw up the once in a generation opportunity they have in front of them.
The Blackhawks Have Everything in Front of Them, Cannot Mess This Up
Scott Powers of the Athletic wrote about how it's going to take patience (Paid Subscription), but a path is there. General Manager Kyle Davidson has made moves that have shown there is a plan he is sticking to, whether we know that plan or not.
This period of time requires short-term veteran signings in these "gap" years to fill out a roster with plenty of cap space while the young players like Bedard, Kevin Korchinski, and (hopefully) Lukas Reichel come into form.
Although it is not pretty, the plan in place may be working. As the Blackhawks record continues to get worse, even with the magic Bedard brings to the ice, the realism they will be a contender to win the draft lottery for the second year in a row is growing. This year's hot name for the first overall pick is forward Macklin Celebrini, who is a freshman at Boston University. Keep that in mind.
Whether the Blackhawks end up with the first pick or not, the future can still be bright. It is so crucial that Davidson sticks to his plan to strike only when the iron is hot - meaning the team and young core is ready to contend and win. This year will be rough, next year will be rough. But in the next three to four seasons, if Davidson is right, the vibes of the 2010's may come back to Chicago.
But, if it fails, Bedard could be gone, and the Blackhawks could be an Original Six franchise back in the basement for a long, long time.