In what was dubbed as the Connor Bedard sweepstakes, the Chicago Blackhawks snagged the #1 overall pick during the 2023 NHL Draft lottery, and now it’s time to preview the event itself.
What hasn't been said about Connor Bedard at this point? He's been the most hyped prospect since Connor McDavid, and we've all seen how that's worked out.
Living up to those ridiculously high expectations feels nearly impossible, but all signs point to Bedard being able to do so.
He won't be entering the NHL out of a collegiate juggernaut like Minnesota or Michigan, but rather the WHL. That's far from uncommon, and it's also the same route that McDavid took.
Naturally, that brings comparisons of the two. There's plenty to dive into in that respect, but for a brief summary:
|Points per Game
Comparing any prospect to McDavid is extremely unfair, yet Bedard is able to match and even surpass the superstar in most categories.
Of course, we still have to see how his career in the NHL shakes out, but it's as close to a lock as you'll ever see for him to go #1 overall to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Nothing is nearly as set in stone as Bedard going #1 overall, but the top four selections seem to have a general consensus. We mentioned collegiate powerhouses, one of which being Michigan.
The #2 overall pick to the Anaheim Ducks looks to be center Adam Fantilli of the Wolverines, who led college hockey in points (65) and was tied for the most goals (30). Following him will likely be Swede Leo Carlsson, who was the junior player of the year in the SHL.
Next up will be the San Jose Sharks, who look poised to take a center themselves and another American in Will Smith. Any differences in those selections would be considered quite a surprise, but as for the rest of the 2023 NHL Draft, it seems like a wide open field.
While analyzing drafts in any sport a few years down the line proves extremely interesting, none seem to compare to the NHL. Hockey truly brings the deepest draft classes, as we've seen nearly entire first rounds go on to be All-Stars.
The St. Louis Blues will certainly hope to be a big part of that after an extremely disappointing season. However, they're the only team with three picks in the first round (#10, 25 and 29).
If there's one player that could shake things up in the three picks that follow after Bedard, it could be Matvei Michkov.
The Russian has the pure skill set to rival the best of the best but wasn't displaying elite ability to play with teammates until just this past year. His game intelligence has appeared to increase greatly, which is what has him surging up draft boards.
Another aspect of the 2023 NHL Draft worth diving into is that of goaltenders. They always provide intrigue in terms of how high they're valued, and given this year's class, there aren't any that truly jump off the page. In fact, it wouldn't be surprising at all to see the entire first round go by without a single goalie selected.
If there are any that could sneak up that high, it will likely be Michael Hrabel from the USHL or Trey Augustine out of Michigan State. However, the tail end of the first round doesn't look poised to go the goaltender route.
Even the most recent reports surrounding the Vegas Golden Knights is that they're in the works of extending goalie Adin Hill after their 2023 Stanley Cup Final win.
The first round of the 2023 NHL Draft takes place Wednesday, June 28 on ESPN, with rounds 2-7 the following day on NHL Network.