We are two days post-draft lottery, and I have to say the high of what went down this past Monday has yet to leave, and to be honest, I still can’t fully believe this has gone our way. If you have been living under a rock, the Hawks won what might be the biggest draft lottery since the 2015 Edmonton Oilers won the right to draft superstar Connor McDavid. With this win, the Hawks will be drafting generational talent Connor Bedard, a player that many scouts hold in the same regard as McDavid and have all said is going to be a franchise saver for whoever drafts him.
Connor Bedard, who turns 18 on July 17th, is a 5’10" 185-pound center who has been playing for the Regina Pats of the WHL. Corey Pronman of The Athletic in his scouting report has a right-handed center comparable to the Boston Bruins David Pasternak; he has game-changing hockey skill, and once he skates in his first NHL game, he will already have one of the best wrist shots in the league. He already shows elite skill, and the ability to beat defenders one-on-one is going to be a coach’s nightmare on how to play against him. What makes him even more dangerous is that not only does he have an amazing shot, but he is also one of the more creative playmakers in recent memory. Just when defenders think they have him shut down from shooting the puck, he pulls off some insane passes to set up his teammates. His hockey IQ is off the charts, which should not surprise anyone considering he eats, sleeps, and breathes this game.
While there are way more good things to say about his game than bad, if you must pick something that might be a setback for him, it would have to be his size. The average size of an NHL center is 6'1" and 197 pounds, according to Coach Ryan Horton of Horton Barbell. Bedard isn’t far off in weight, and you must assume that he will put on more weight since he is still growing. Despite being undersized, he is still strong on the puck and can defend himself well. However, will Coach Richardson see him better on the wing? Cory Pronman thinks that if that is a route the Hawks explore, he will still find himself as an elite franchise player compared to the likes of Patrick Kane and Nikita Kucherov. How can you not get excited about that?
There is always the chance that the next big thing can end up being a bust or not live up to the hype that it is given. For Bedard, he is being dealt a very difficult hand, and one has to wonder if he will ever live up to the hype that is getting tossed around. For me, it’s just insane to think that he can be as good or even better than Connor McDavid. McDavid is in a league of his own, and if Bedard can get even just half of that, I would be thrilled.
The Hawks are set up for a much faster rebuild than we all had expected, but don’t think this means playoff hockey next season. I think we are still in for a rough season and that we are still looking at a 3–4 year rebuild, but with players like Korchinski, Nazar, Del Mastro, and Reichel already in the organization and Bedard on the way, we are on the verge of watching some exciting hockey once again. June 28th cannot get here any quicker.