2023 NHL Draft: Blackhawks select Connor Bedard with 1st overall pick

What the entire hockey world has known for months was made official on Wednesday night as Chicago selected phenom Connor Bedard with the No. 1 pick.

Connor Bedard is officially headed to the Windy City.

The Chicago Blackhawks, as expected, selected the Western Hockey League star with the first overall pick of the 2023 NHL Draft on Wednesday night.

Bedard, who is the most hyped-up prospect since Connor McDavid, set the WHL on fire this past season, leading the league in regular-season scoring with an absurd 71 goals and 143 points in 57 games before carrying that torrid pace into his first career playoff run (10 goals and 10 assists in seven games) and nearly willing an underdog Regina squad to a colossal first-round upset before his team fell in Game 7.

Bedard's magical season wasn't limited to just club play, either. The soon-to-be 18-year-old had four goals and eight points for Canada at the summer world junior tournament in Edmonton before setting the new Team Canada single-tournament scoring record at the 2023 WJC this past December/January with nine goals and 23 points over seven games as Canada claimed gold in both events. Bedard became Canada's all-time leading scorer at the world juniors in the process.

In all games combined this past season — including WHL and international competition — Bedard tallied a ridiculous 94 goals and 100 assists for 194 points in 78 total games played (2.48 points per game). It was truly one of the best draft-year performances in hockey history.

The Chicago Blackhawks really did win the lottery when it comes to Connor Bedard. (Getty)
The Chicago Blackhawks really did win the lottery when it comes to Connor Bedard. (Getty) (Getty Images)

The Blackhawks, meanwhile, are coming off one of their worst regular seasons in recent memory, but they picked a hell of a year to to do it with Bedard waiting in the wings.

The tank worked to near-perfection as the team finished in the bottom three of the NHL's standings with a dismal 26 wins and 59 points — giving itself a top-three shot at winning the draft lottery before they eventually pulled it out and won the right to select Bedard.

During their tough 2022-23 campaign, the Blackhawks' leading scorer was Max Domi, who had just 49 points. Chicago had just 11 players clear 20 points.

The team did make a move this week to give Bedard some veteran support on the flank, acquiring Taylor Hall from the cap-strapped Bruins for essentially nothing.

Luckily for Chicago, Bedard should be an immediate impact player and give quite a jumpstart to the Blackhawks' rebuilding efforts. Here's some of the things the young phenom has already accomplished before stepping on the ice for his first NHL game:

Connor Bedard facts, stats, accolades

  • Bedard finished the 2022-23 regular season with 143 points (71 goals, 72 assists)

  • Bedard had 90 points (44 goals, 46 assists) over his 35-game points streak earlier this season

  • Bedard had 22 goals over his 11-game goal streak earlier this season

  • Bedard failed to register a point in only four regular-season games this year

  • Bedard finished with 36 more points than the WHL's next highest scorer (Prince George's Chase Wheatcroft)

  • Averaging 1.246 goals per game, Bedard had the 11th-best goals-per-game average in WHL history and the best ever for a 17-year-old player.

  • Averaging 2.509 points per game, Bedard had the best points-per-game average since 1990-91 (Ray Whitney, 2.569)

  • At the 2023 World Juniors, Bedard set the following records:
    Most career points by a Canadian (36)
    Most career goals by a Canadian (17)
    Most points at a single tournament by a Canadian (23)
    Most assists at a single tournament by a Canadian (14)
    Most points at a single tournament by a U18 player (23)

  • In 2021-22, the then-16-year-old became the youngest player to score 50 or more goals in a WHL season

  • In 2021-22, Bedard was only the third 16-year-old to manage a 100-point season in the WHL, and the first to achieve the feat in the 21st century

  • Bedard was the first player to earn exceptional status in the WHL after scoring 43 goals and 84 points in 36 games for West Van Academy Prep's U18 team, leading the Canadian Sports School Hockey League (CSSHL) in scoring and earning MVP honours as a 14 year old