The rebuilding Chicago Blackhawks won the NHL Draft Lottery on Monday night and the right to select consensus No. 1 overall pick, Connor Bedard. The Anaheim Ducks finished second, followed by the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Bedard, 17, is considered a generational talent by many draft experts and the best franchise building block since Connor McDavid went first overall to the Edmonton Oilers in 2015.
As draft pundit Craig Button, a former NHL general manager, told ESPN: “I think Connor Bedard changes the fortunes of a franchise.”
He was the first Western Hockey League player granted “exceptional status” by Hockey Canada, allowing a 15-year-old Bedard to play full time in the junior league. The North Vancouver native had 271 points in 134 games with the WHL Regina Pats, including 134 goals. This season, he tallied 143 points with 71 goals for the Pats.
His legend grew at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, where he broke records for career goals (17) and points (36) by a Canadian player. He also set a new World Juniors record for points by a player under 19 years old which was previously held by Jaromir Jagr.
Fantilli, an 18-year-old Toronto native, has been the consensus No. 2 overall pick throughout the year. The 6-foot-2 center won the 2023 Hobey Baker Award as the NCAA’s top men’s hockey player after tallying 65 points in 36 games as a University of Michigan freshman.
The 2023 NHL Draft is considered one of the deeper ones in recent years.
Other players in the mix behind Bedard include U.S. Under-18 National Team Development Program center Will Smith, a Massachusetts native committed to Boston College; Swedish center Leo Carlsson, considered an elite two-way player; and Russian winger Matvei Michkov, a dynamic goal-scorer whose contract with the Kontinental Hockey League would prevent him from playing in the NHL until the 2026-27 season.
There are two lottery draws, for the first pick and the second pick. Thanks to an NHL rule change in 2021, teams can only move up a maximum of 10 spots in the order. If a team ranked Nos. 12-16 wins the first lottery, they move up the maximum number spaces and the team lowest in the standings slots in at No. 1. The same rules are applied for the lottery draw for the second overall pick.
The lottery odds this season were: 1. Anaheim Ducks: 18.5%; 2. Columbus Blue Jackets: 13.5%; 3. Chicago Blackhawks: 11.5%; 4. San Jose Sharks: 9.5%; 5. Montreal Canadiens: 8.5%; 6. Arizona Coyotes: 7.5%; 7. Philadelphia Flyers: 6.5%; 8. Washington Capitals: 6%; 9. Detroit Red Wings: 5%; 10. St. Louis Blues: 3.5%; 11. Vancouver Canucks: 3%; 12. Ottawa Senators: 2.5%; 13. Buffalo Sabres: 2%; 14. Pittsburgh Penguins: 1.5%; 15. Nashville Predators: 0.5%; 15. Calgary Flames: 0.5%.
The NHL also implemented a rule that a team cannot win the lottery more than twice in a five-year span, starting with the 2022 lottery.
Blackhawks win NHL Draft Lottery, Connor Bedard sweepstakes