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Connor Bedard, Welcome to Chicago

Coming into the NHL Draft Lottery the Chicago Blackhawks had the third best odds a to land the No. 1 overall pick in this summers draft at 11.5%.

Despite being having the third best odds, they were more likely to fall down to No. 4 or even No. 5 with 39.7% chance and 29.8% chance respectively.

However, miracle of miracles, the lottery odds favored Chicago as they leaped frog the Columbus Blue Jackets who fell from No. 2 to No. 3 and the Anaheim Ducks who fell from No. 1 to No. 2.

Getting the No. 1 overall pick in this draft was critical as there just so happens to be a potential generational talent for the taking in Canadian phenom Connor Bedard.

That has been the goal for Chicago heading into the season, put out a full on tank in order to get the rebuild off on the right foot.

The Blackhawks did their best in that regard by trading nearly everyone of value including Max Domi to Dallas, Jake McCabe and Sam Laffery to Toronto, Kirby Dach to Montreal and Alex Debrincat to Ottawa.

Then came the final big piece to go with 2016 Hart Trophy (MVP) winner Patrick Kane being shipped off to the New York Rangers for a couple of prospects. The Hawks also received what would become a 2023 second round pick with the Rags falling in the first round to the New Jersey Devils.

With the reports of Johnathan Toews not coming back to Chicago either, it is truly the end for one of the greatest dynasties in modern NHL history.

The 13 year old kid in me who saw the Blackhawks win their second cup in four seasons in dramatic fashion would be crushed to see this happen. I knew it had to come to an end at some point but it still hurts.

Toews, Kane and the rest of the crew that made up that amazing core will live on forever and I thank them for the amazing memories they gave me during my childhood.

Now before I dive into what potentially selecting Bedard would mean for the Hawks rebuild moving forward, I have to address some of the controversy surrounding Chicago obtaining the No. 1 pick.

I'll tackle the lighter part of the controversy with people saying the lottery was rigged from the get go. During the live show on ESPN, the host Kevin Weekes accidentally said that Columbus had moved down to three before the pick was announced on the show.

The picks are not decided live on air. The picks were decided in advance with a video of Gary Bettman going through the process with the ping-pong balls before the show.

The NHL sent the results of the lotto to ESPN and they put it into a script. Obviously there was some miscommunication between the control room and Weekes and he said the pick early. No rigging by the NHL for the third largest market to get Bedard.

With that out of the way, we can now focus on the more serious aspect.

There has been a valid criticism that just under a year after the revelations of the sexual assault of Kyle Beach and the ensuing cover up, that Chicago was rewarded with the No. 1 pick.

I totally understand where those people are coming from. The punishment should have been far worse than a two million dollar fine for what the Blackhawks did.

Teams like the Arizona Coyotes had to forfeit a 2nd round pick in 2020 and a first round pick in 2021 for violating the NHL's Combine Testing Policy during the 2019-20 season.

There should have been multiple draft picks lost, a higher fine and much more done to Chicago for what they did and how they treated Kyle Beach. There should have been legal action taken by Houghton High School in Michigan where he sexually assaulted a minor on the schools hockey team.

It's been difficult for me how to process how to feel about this. On one hand I am beyond excited for the future of the team, while I'm reconciling what has happened and that maybe Chicago shouldn't even have this pick.

All I can say is to those who are attacking the current group of players, coaches and front office staff please stop. Everyone who was involved in this situation outside of ownership is gone.

Don't punish the people who had no hand in what happened in Chicago's locker room 13 years ago. Honestly, Rocky Wirtz should be forced to sell the team for this franchise to truly move forward and make everyone who helped cover up this situation pay for what they did.

With that said, I would like to move on to a lighter portion of this story and focus on what Bedard means to Chicago.

This kid is the real deal (I'm 23 years old and it feels weird calling a soon-to-be professional athlete a kid).

In the last two seasons in the WHL with the Regina Pats, Bedard has been an offensive juggernaut, putting up 243 points in 119 career games. That's an average of 2 points per game for those wondering.

While we've seen players in the past put up big numbers in the junior leagues before, I think what Bedard did during the gold medal run during the world juniors solidified his transcendent talent.

After losing the first game of the group stage to Czechia and only putting up one point, Bedard went on a absolute tear.

For the final six games of the tournament, the 17-year-old phenom put up 22 points, including three points with the game winning goal in overtime against Slovakia in the quarterfinals.

The levels of hype around this guy have not been seen since the days of Connor McDavid in 2015 or 2016 with Auston Matthews.

If Bedard is as good as advertised, this immediately speeds up Chicago's timeline for success and contention.

I'm not saying they will make the playoff next year if they get him (the draft and free agency still have to happen), but instead of five years to relevancy it maybe closer to three years, with true contention in four.

The hardest part of any rebuild is finding a franchise cornerstone. The Bulls thought they had one in Zach Lavine and that's why they find themself stuck in mediocrity. Great teams always have generational talents.

Blackhawks fans are very familiar with how important a generational talent is when you have the No. 1 pick (see Patrick Kane).

This stroke of luck has energized the fans in Chicago and changed the fortunes Blackhawks organization. If they can develop Bedard correctly and build around him in the right way, we may have another Chicago dynasty on our hands.

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