When a show starts a segment saying “Whoever gets Connor Bedard wins the draft,” boy, does it percolate. On the latest 32 Thoughts Podcast with Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek, Friedman was asked specifically about what he’s heard about how the Chicago Blackhawks plan to build around Connor Bedard.
The answer was multifaceted.
“I think there’s teams who believe they want to move up with that pick,” Friedman said, referencing the 19th pick. “I’m wondering about whether they’re going to qualify Caleb Jones. I don’t want to put words in anyone’s mouth but it’s fair to bring that up.”
Then, it gets interesting.
Friedman Cites Vladimir Tarasenko As Someone To Bring In
After acknowledging that Max Domi returning to Chicago makes a lot of sense, and is a good fit, he drops a name that even he admitted was interesting.
“I thought it was a really intriguing idea on a short term deal,” he said before dropping Tarasenko’s name.
“I think you’ve got to give the kid a chance to succeed, right?” Friedman continued. “Even if your team isn’t very good, I like that idea.”
Marek chimed in with a pair of other ideas that would behoove the Blackhawks and Bedard.
“I think you need to surround him with skill,” Marek opined. “But I think you need to surround him with players that will protect him. I know the days of those players is gone.”
After Friedman interjected stating that Bedard needs scorers, Marek agreed but said they need a blend that will provide balance.
“Every game next year he’s going to be a target,” Marek added, to which Friedman agreed.
But the main point was taken: go get some players to help bridge Chicago to the next level.
Davidson Has To Build for Now and the Future
The rebuild isn’t ending after Connor Bedard walks across the stage–everyone knows that. But the Blackhawks have to see improvement from last season and Bedard alone doesn’t bring that.
I’ve argued that Kyle Davidson’s work truly cannot be measured until at the very longest bit of time–five years. Look at Stan Bowman–it was evident by 2021-22 that it wasn’t working anymore–a good five years since he made noise following the first round exit in 2017. The rebuild on the fly never worked and neither did his approach to the draft until it was too late.
Davidson has one of the best head starts in recent rebuild history. His clock started as soon as he dealt Alex DeBrincat. By the 2025 Draft, it will be evident if that trade paid off. By 2027, everyone will know whether his approach to the rebuild worked or not.
Maybe even sooner and for Blackhawks fans sake, in the vein of 2008-09 and not 2021-22.
Skepticism is Understandable
In the meantime, beyond icing a team, the task that will ultimately provide Davidson his extension or his walking papers will be on how he builds around Bedard.
Acquiring draft picks is great. Weaponizing the cap is smart. But none of it matters if it fails to move forward at a reasonable pace. Fans skeptical of Davidson so far are justified. The organization didn’t do nearly as well in the last half of the 2010’s as it did in the first half of the last one. The last three years have been brutal, for reasons that went beyond hockey at times, too.
Skepticism, then, is understandable. But to get it right, some time and patience needs to be applied.
Much like winning is contagious, so is losing. Look around the league. There are organizations who cannot escape the hell of a rebuild and when they finally do, they’ve lost out on a generation of fans.
On the opposite end, the Florida Panthers string three wins in a row, knock out the Boston Bruins, and then roll to the Stanley Cup Final. Suddenly, everyone is talking about the Stanley Cup in South Beach–after 27 years of nothing.
Blackhawks season tickets went through the roof following the Lottery win. Until then, the city punched the snooze button when it came to its hockey team.
Wake them up when there’s something to cheer about.
Well, the alarm sounded earlier than anyone expected. Including Davidson.
He’s already won the draft by many’s standards. Now, he’s gotta go out there and find the right pieces to win the whole thing again.