The long wait for who can claim the title as the Connor Bedard sweepstakes winner is over, and the NHL royally messed up. The Chicago Blackhawks will pick first overall for the first time in 16 years since selecting Patrick Kane first overall in 2007.
The following explanation will explain why the NHL made such a crucial mistake.
The NHL draft lottery is one of the most anticipated dates on the calendar if your team didn’t have a great season or hasn’t been doing well for a handful of years. The bottom three teams for the 2022-23 season were the Anaheim Ducks, Columbus Blue Jackets, and the Chicago Blackhawks. The Anaheim Ducks were soon to fall into complete chaos; they went from super competitive to being another playoff team to a full rebuild of the roster. After years of spiraling downwards after their Stanley Cup-winning year, the Ducks were in the basement of the NHL. Columbus signed a big-name free agent in Johnny Gaudreau and has been building upwards since their competitive playoff days in the late 2010s. Chicago, a team recovering from a massive scandal, two of their biggest names in franchise history have left, and their modern dynasty days are long gone.
The National Hockey League is trying to appeal to more of its younger audience, and Anaheim Ducks star forward Trevor Zegras has been a big part of the NHL’s campaign to appeal to the younger audience.
I’m not saying that the NHL should attempt to rig the draft lottery for a certain team. I am also not implying that the NHL does potentially rig the draft lottery for a certain team. I am simply implying that the NHL should’ve imposed some sort of consequence on the Chicago Blackhawks for the Kyle Beach situation. The Arizona Coyotes forfeited a first-round pick in 2021, and a second-round pick in 2020 for violating the NHL combine testing policy. Another team, the New Jersey Devils, illegally signed Ilya Kovalchuk, they would originally forfeit a 2014 first-round pick and their 2011 third-round pick, the Devils were also fined three million dollars. The Devils would get their 2014 first-round pick back, but the league made them pick 30th overall rather than anywhere else. Why did the league give both of these teams significantly hefty consequences for breaking league rules, but the Chicago Blackhawks seemingly got off with facing the consequences?
I want to preface the 2023 draft class, it is one of the best we’ve seen in a long time, and it may shape up to be better than the 2015 draft class. Regardless of where the Chicago Blackhawks were in the standings, they should’ve had really significant consequences for what happened. This is also not on the players of the draft class, Connor Bedard is a hard-working WHL center who has been touted as a generational prospect for a while now. However, the league seems to be potentially attempting to cover up what happened by gifting the Chicago Blackhawks a franchise-altering prospect.
The league’s mistake has angered many hockey fans, there are some reporters, who I will choose to keep nameless, who are also speaking out about the Blackhawks getting first overall.
What do you think should’ve happened? Do you think the league should’ve forfeited some of Chicago’s draft picks? Do you think the NHL would’ve given them a harsh penalty by now?