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Connor Bedard joins Chicago Blackhawks as star pick of NHL Draft

Connor Bedard at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships
Connor Bedard at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships

Connor Bedard at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championships” by Kaiser matias is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 .

Ahead of last week’s NHL Draft, much of the talk was about Connor Bedard, the generational talent most people expected to be number one pick and that’s exactly how it played out, with the Chicago Blackhawks swooping for him.

The 17-year-old had already been first pick three years earlier when the Regina Pats selected him in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft, and his form on the ice since then had only cemented his status as one of the most exciting hockey players of his age.

Even so, Bedard admitted that it was an overwhelming experience to be first pick at the NHL Draft: “It’s an unbelievable feeling to be with my family and friends and get to hear my name be called and experience that, especially with such a storied organization,” Bedard said. 

“Everything I’ve heard about the people there has been nothing but positives. I can’t put into words growing up and obviously, that’s when they were going on their runs winning Cups. You watched a lot of them and you see the United Center going crazy and all of Chicago getting behind them and you know (the) Original Six and so much history here.”

A star in the making

Bedard had been strongly linked with the Blackhawks for months, particularly after they won the draft lotteries in May, giving them first pick and first shot at a player expected to go on and achieve big things.

Coming in the week that saw 2015’s first pick Connor McDavid winning yet more trophies at the NHL Awards, plenty of people in the sport expect Bedard to follow down that path. He’s already won plenty even at his tender age, including the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy, the Bob Clarke Trophy, the Four Broncos Memorial Trophy and Canadian Hockey’s Player of the Year.

Bedard has also excelled for his country, being named as the MVP at the 2023 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships, scoring 23 points and setting multiple Canadian World Junior records along the way.

Carlsson wins second pick battle

Other highlights of the NHL Draft saw Swedish forward Leo Carlsson get second pick by the Anaheim Ducks who had also been linked with Adam Fantilli. There had been much speculation in the build-up as to who the Ducks would select, but they went for the 6”5 Swede.

Carlsson arrives from Orebro HK of the Swedish Hockey League and like Bedard had made an impression at the Junior World Championships earlier this year before also competing in the senior World Championships in May.

Fantilli had widely been expected to be the second pick but ended up third and selected by Columbus Blue Jackets after impressive form for Michigan Wolves had seen him win the Hobey Baker Trophy.

The highest American pick in the Draft was Will Smith from the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, who was selected fourth by San Jose Sharks. He was one of four NTDP players chosen in the first round and ensured that at least one of their players had been in the top five picks for the fifth year in a row.

Written and distributed by Chat T Sports.

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