What Can Blackhawks Fans Expect Of Near-Certain No. 1 Pick Connor Bedard?

What Can Blackhawks Fans Expect Of Near-Certain No. 1 Pick Connor Bedard?
Fact Checked by Jim Tomlin

The Chicago Blackhawks’ terrible 2022-23 season yielded a consolation prize of having an 11.5% chance of getting the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft. Anaheim (18.5%) and Columbus (13.5%) had statistically better chances. But the ping-pong balls went for Chicago in Monday night’s Draft Lottery.

That means, in all likelihood, the Blackhawks will select Regina Pats center Connor Bedard, a 17-year-old phenom. Chicago hockey fans hope he can help deliver them from the misery of six-year stretch when the once-mighty Blackhawks finished no higher than sixth place in their division and made just one brief playoff appearance.

So, what can Blackhawks fans – and their backers at Illinois betting apps – expect now that their team has an offensive weapon that’s being hailed as hockey’s next superstar?

Well, there is some good news.

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Most No. 1 NHL Draft Picks Do Well

NHL teams that have had the No. 1 overall pick in the NHL draft from 2000 through 2019 have done fairly well after drafting that player.

IllinoisBet.com, your home for Illinois sports betting coverage, decided to gauge what the expectations should be from the No. 1 overall pick. We examined the results of the draft elites from 2000 through 2019, using HockeyReference.com to gather the awards, honors, and achievements earned by each No. 1 overall pick from that span.

The results should be encouraging for Chicago hockey fans.

Among those 20 No. 1 overall picks, 19 went on to become an NHL All-Star, or 95%. The No. 1 pick made the All-Rookie Team 12 times (60%). Seven of those top overall selections went on to become the NHL’s top goal scorer. And a No. 1 became the league MVP (Hart Trophy) six times (30%), according to hockey-reference.com.

Franchise’s Fortunes Can Turn With No. 1 Pick

Perhaps more important for fans and customers at Chicago sportsbooks is that there is evidence that the No. 1 draft pick can greatly improve a team’s opportunity to win a Stanley Cup. Among the 20 No. 1s from 2000 to 2019, there were seven instances of the player going on to help win a Stanley Cup – that’s a little better than 1 in 3.

Those players included Alex Ovechkin (2004 by Washington), Sidney Crosby (2005 by Pittsburgh) and Patrick Kane (2006 by Chicago) who all obviously moved the needle for their respective teams. For instance, Kane won the Stanley Cup three times with Chicago, in 2009-10, 2012-13 and 2014-15.

Both Crosby and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury won three Stanley Cups with the Penguins (in 2009, 2016 and 2017) and Fleury won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s top goalie in 2021 with the Vegas Golden Knights. Steven Stamkos has won two Stanley Cups with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

And there have been other No. 1s from 2000-2019 who went on to NHL stardom, such as Auston Matthews (2016 by Toronto), Nathan MacKinnon (2013 by Colorado) and Connor McDavid (2015 by Edmonton) to name just a few.

Bedard Earning Praise From Current Stars

Bedard is only 17 but after three years in the Western Hockey League, he has already been praised by fellow No. 1s draft picks, such as McDavid and MacKinnon. Bedard, listed at 5 feet 10 and 185 pounds, racked up 71 goals and 72 assists (143 points) in 57 games this season for Regina, according to hockeydb.com. The native of North Vancouver, British Columbia, also had 23 points in seven games for Canada at the 2023 World Junior U-20 Championships.

Sometimes, the impact of a No. 1 is immediate, as was the case with Ovechkin and Crosby. And occasionally there is a developmental curve, as has been the case with the 2019 No. 1 pick, Jack Hughes (by the New Jersey Devils) who scored seven goals as a rookie, 11 the next season, 26 the year after that, and 43 this season.

So for the Blackhawks, if the history of No. 1 overall picks holds steady, there are better days ahead. And fewer super high draft picks.

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Bill Ordine

Bill Ordine covers state gambling issues for IllinoisBet.com. He was a reporter and editor in news and sports for the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun for 25 years, and was a lead reporter on a team that was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Breaking News. Bill started reporting on casinos and gaming shortly after Atlantic City’s first gambling halls opened and wrote a syndicated column on travel to casino destinations for 10 years.

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