NHL No. 1 Overall Pick Watch

Story posted January 13, 2023 in CommRadio, Sports by Owen Gelber

Connor Bedard is undeniably one of the most highly talented NHL prospects that the world has seen for quite some time.

Bedard’s elite edges and playmaking abilities have caught the attention of teams from around the NHL since 2019, when he was just 14 years old.

Currently, Bedard is playing with the Regina Pats of the WHL (Western Hockey League), where he has 70 points through 29 games, and is already being compared to Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid.

Though Bedard will have to live up to huge expectations being compared to some of the best players this generation has ever seen, his humbleness and team oriented mindset has been something that stands out about such him, telling the media, “I don’t wanna talk about myself right now, we’re not talking about me…I love this group I love this country” after he helped his home country of Canada win the gold medal in the 2022 IIHF World Juniors, putting up 18 points in just four games.

Struggling teams from around the NHL have a ton to look forward to in this upcoming draft in Nashville, where they hope to get their hands on Bedard to help their team tread back in the right direction.

Let's take a look at two potential teams that have an opportunity to be awarded the first-overall pick.

The Chicago Blackhawks

Chicago is in the midst of a rebuild and the Hawks team may look completely different going into the 2023-2024 season, as long-time captain, Jonathan Toews and nine time All-Star winger Patrick Kane may be moved at this seasons’ trade deadline. 

The 10-25-4 Blackhawks have been lackluster all around . From mediocre goaltending, to an invisible bottom six, to an aging defensive core, Chicago is quite far away from being a legit contender.

Assuming the Blackhawks get solid returns for Toews and Kane at the deadline, Bedard could come into a newly restructured, hungry team looking to bounce back from last season.

If Bedard were to wind up in Chicago, he would make an immediate impact and presumably be named the first-line center. The Hawks lack identity right now and Bedard could be the next face of the franchise.

The Anaheim Ducks

Anaheim has had an absolutely abysmal season, currently sitting at 12-25-4 on the season, and nothing seems to be going right in southern California.

The Ducks are a big, gritty team that has struggled with staying 5-on-5 and giving away a ton of high-risk chances opportunities. Their penalty kill is ranked the third worst in the league and constantly being on the kill will not help any team that struggles with scoring.

Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry have produced a majority of scoring, while the other three lines lack any sort of consistency.

Anaheim has the talent to win games, as the majority of their roster has stayed put since their second-round playoff exit last season, but the Ducks need to regain bottom six consistency. With a goal scorer like Bedard, and a play maker like Trevor Zegras, the pair could provide the spark the Ducks need to win hockey games.

Owen Gelber is a first-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email omg5144@psu.edu