From 2023, a new era is to be written for the Blackhawks, the best NHL team of the 1990s (champions 2010, 2013, 2015), which experienced a retreat from glory in recent seasons. However, the still seventeen-year-old talent should mean for Chicago in the future what Stan Mikita and Bobby Hull did in the 1960s, or Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews in the recent past.
“It’s a huge honor,” Bedard gushed after learning of the Blackhawks’ reaction to winning the draft lottery. Some staff members cried tears of joy as their phones rang non-stop. sweatshirts with Bedard’s name tag.
No wonder. The productivity winner at this year’s Junior WC under 20, where he collected 23 points (9+14) in seven games, continued his excellent performances in the Junior WHL as well. He had a record of 71+72 in 57 starts. The native of British Columbia cannot avoid comparisons with Connor McDavid. Although skeptics mention Bedard’s height – just 175 centimeters, which disqualifies him a bit compared to the Edmonton icon (185 cm).
When it comes to hockey IQ, then, of course, Bedard is an absolute extraclass. Like Wayne Gretzky, he doesn’t watch where the puck is right now, but where it will be in two or three seconds…
“He’s an extraordinary player,” admits Kane. “It won’t be long before Chicago pulls through,” he believes.
Next season, Bedard will also have 2010 draft pick Taylor Hall, whom the Blackhawks acquired this week in a trade from Boston together with the experienced Nick Foligno.
Don’t really expect surprises on the Canadian account like last year, when Shane Wright was pushed out of the top ranks by the Slovak duo of Juraj Slafkovský (Montreal) and Šimon Nemec (New Jersey).
But Slovaks can also experience a memorable draft this year thanks to first-round picks Dalibor Dvorský and Samuel Honzek. However, the experts are quite clear about the composition of the top 5. The Canadian Adam Fantilli will go to Anaheim as the number two, Columbus is the third choice and it is expected that he will point to the Swede Leo Carlsson. The American center William Smith and the inscrutable Russian Matvej Mickov are still in the game for ‘degrees’. Before the war in Ukraine, he was considered the only player who could possibly threaten Bedard’s position.
Last year, defenseman David Jiříček, who went to Columbus as a sixth pick, and forward Jiří Kulich, who was picked by Buffalo from the 28th spot, made their mark overseas last year. In connection with the opening most-watched round, this year overseas, the talk is mainly about Kometa forward Eduard Šalé (first around 15th place, but more likely later). The name of the two-meter ex-Spartan Michael Hrabal could be heard first among the goalkeepers. In total, it is estimated that between 7 and 9 Czech youngsters will be drafted.
However, they are not the only ones who will find themselves in the shadow of the hype surrounding Bedard. “No one better has ever been scouted at this age,” declared former Central Scouting Director Dan Marr firmly.