The Chicago Blackhawks won more than just the NHL Draft Lottery on Monday night. They won back the attention of a city starved for a winner.
The Bears are rebuilding. The Bulls flickered with hope before Lonzo Ball’s knee went all Derrick Rose on those plans. The White Sox had all of the promise in the world–but those dreams haven’t come close to fruition. The Cubs are the closest thing to a winner, and even they have a few years to go.
So yes, the lottery win that nets teenage and generational superstar Connor Bedard is more than just another top draft pick. There are multiple things at play here, and it goes far beyond the winning lottery combination.
When Reason and Excitement Intersect
Prior to a single transaction following the selection of Bedard on June 28th, here’s a few assumptions:
- Bedard will break camp with the Blackhawks this Fall
- The Blackhawks front office will analyze every angle before switching gears
The general expectation is that with Bedard in the fold, Chicago is going to move past what is the brutal part of the lose, lose and more lose of the rebuild process and skip forward to the awkward, where-are-we-really stage.
Bedard, in theory and based on all projections, is now the team’s bonafide number one center. If it really goes as expected, he’s the captain in waiting. Whether in Chicago or any other city, 10 other general managers were salivating at the chance to have a player of Bedard’s pedigree and skill in their organization. Hockey isn’t a sport where one player can often turn the fortunes on a dime.
Bedard appears to be.
But even with the excitement ratcheting not seen since Chicago was hoisting Stanley Cups, reasoning and patience must still triumph over the aforementioned excitement.
Blackhawks Have Two Significant Pieces in Place
Before the lottery reveal, the Blackhawks had an-up- and-coming star in defenseman Kevin Korchinski, who has been terrific for the Seattle Thunderbirds all season long. Imagine now that Bedard centers a line while Korchinski anchors the blue line.
Suddenly the future is in the present. Davidson’s challenge now will be finding the right pieces to go around what are now foundational building blocks. Might he package the other first round pick Chicago holds, with some of the seconds to move up? Will he dangle them to a wanting team for instant talent up front or on the blue line?
Alex DeBrincat and the Ottawa Senators don’t look so cozy right now–maybe he swings something to bring him back? Patrick Kane wasn’t interested in rebuilds until there wasn’t as daunting of one anymore.
What a difference 24 hours makes. What appeared a lengthy rebuild now looks like a maybe just another year or two. Whatever course Davidson and his front office chart is not nearly as daunting of a task as it was yesterday morning.
The focus shifts now from drafting and developing to a detour. Sure, they’ll still need to hit on some and develop it all.
But not only is hope on the horizon. So too is the chance to bring it all along–with veteran help–as had once been the plan in the first place. It might not be rebuild endgame, but it’s now further along.
The anticipated selection of Connor Bedard has changed all of that.