USA TODAY Sports Weekly

Blackhawks win right to select Bedard

- Mike Brehm

The Chicago Blackhawks won the NHL draft lottery on May 8 and with it the right to select generation­al talent Connor Bedard No. 1 overall at the June 28 draft in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Blackhawks had finished 30th in the league this season and had 11.5% odds of winning the lottery. Only the bottom 11 teams had a chance of landing the top pick in the lottery.

Bedard, a high-scoring 17-year-old center for the Regina (Saskatchew­an) Pats, is considered the NHL’s top prospect since the Edmonton Oilers selected Connor McDavid No. 1 overall in the 2015 draft. Bedard had led NHL Central Scouting’s North American skater rankings all season.

The Anaheim Ducks won the second pick drawing and the Columbus Blue Jackets dropped to third place. University of Michigan center Adam Fantilli, who won the Hobey Baker Award, is expected to be drafted No. 2 overall.

The Blackhawks had pared down in a rebuild that gave them better odds in the lottery. They parted ways with Alex DeBrincat, Kirby Dach, Dylan Strome and Dominik Kubalik in the offseason and

Patrick Kane, Max Domi, Jake McCabe and others before the trade deadline.

The announceme­nt of the draft order followed the NHL standings until the Blue Jackets were announced at No. 3, meaning Anaheim or Chicago were the winners. It was the Blackhawks, who moved up two spots as Edmonton had done in 2015 before drafting McDavid.

Why is Connor Bedard a generation­al talent?

Connor Bedard, a 5-10, 185-pound Canadian, has an elite shot and led the Western Hockey League this season with 71 goals and 143 points in 57 games, plus had 20 points in seven games in the Pats’ first-round playoff loss. He won a gold medal and was named world junior championsh­ips MVP after setting a Team Canada record with nine goals and 23 points in seven games.

“Connor Bedard is one of those unique, elite talents who belongs in the same category as other generation­al talents before him such as Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby,” said Dan Marr, vice president of Central Scouting. “He has

been in the spotlight for the past three years and during that time he has risen to impact and impress on every occasion while often being the youngest member of the team.”

 ?? ANNE-MARIE SORVIN/USA TODAY SPORTS ?? Connor Bedard led NHL Central Scouting rankings all season for North American skaters.
ANNE-MARIE SORVIN/USA TODAY SPORTS Connor Bedard led NHL Central Scouting rankings all season for North American skaters.

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