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A Few More Clues as to How Davidson Will Build Around Bedard

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The trade for Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno put a few more pieces of the puzzle together in how the Chicago Blackhawks and Kyle Davidson plan to attack the 2023-24 season. It won’t likely result in a playoff appearance, but it’s shaping up to be a team that will offer a cocoon for Connor Bedard to acclimate to the rigors of the NHL schedule.

It reminds in some ways of how Sidney Crosby was eased in during his rookie campaign in 2005-06. Crosby was surrounded by veterans, including Mario Lemieux. Crosby would end with 102 points, living up to his billing and just three years later, he’d be a Stanley Cup Champion.

Situation Slightly Different with Bedard in Chicago

Obviously, it’s a little different. Lemieux would end up retiring in January of 2006 due to his health. But he had 22 points in 26 games and mentored a young Crosby who was figuring things out. But there were a number of steady veterans who arrived in Pittsburgh that season. Ziggy Palffy, Sergei Gonchar, John LeClair, and Mark Recchi all arrived to provide stability. The young core would begin crystallizing as well, with Marc-Andre Fleury playing 51 games.

The Penguins went 22-46-14 that seasons and would pick second in the 2006 Draft. But Evgeni Malkin along with 2006 pick Jordan Staal and Kris Letang would be up a season later and then they would take off. Letang’s appearance would be a cup of coffee, but Pittsburgh’s balance of youth with older veterans would buoy them to a Stanley Cup Final appearance in 2008, and then winning it in 2009.

It seems Davidson might be doing something similar, but there’s obviously some differences. One, it’s only June 27th, meaning more moves are coming in some form. Second, and perhaps most challenging, the Blackhawks will need a Malkin, Letang and Staal-like equivalent to arrive in Chicago to find similar momentum.

Lukas Reichel might be one. Kevin Korchinski could be ready as soon as next season–and might even take the Letang path to the NHL. For those who don’t recall, Letang was a third-round pick.

Perhaps Davidson hits a home run with the 19th pick, or trades up using that pick to get a player who can step in sooner rather than later.

Staal was the second overall pick but played in 81 games his rookie season in 2006-07. That’s likely a tall ask to replicate.

But that approach paved the way for Pittsburgh to build into a champion.

Veterans Hall and Foligno Will Help Beyond the Scoresheet

It’s assumed that Foligno will sign with Chicago at a likely cheaper price. He may have had just 26 points in 60 games but his additional value is what he is in the locker room. Foligno was the Columbus Blue Jackets captain for six seasons and beyond that, he was a member of the 2019 Blue Jackets that stunned the Tampa Bay Lightning in four games.

The experience is there in unique situations, which is a valuable piece should Foligno indeed re-sign. Hall’s perspective can be as a former first overall pick himself. He knows the pressure that accompanies it, though it’s not likely to be as intense as what Bedard will shoulder in a city that truly doesn’t have any teams close to winning any time soon.

Hall obviously is there to help offensively and would have likely had another 20-goal season had he played more than 61 games. Regardless, the top line has all but been set for Chicago with Hall flanking Bedard on the left side. It just remains to be seen how many games he’ll play.

Davidson’s plan of building around Bedard became clearer Monday. Now we’ll see where he goes from here at the Draft or perhaps, another trade prior to free agency opening.

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