CHICAGO — The No. 1 overall pick from the 2023 draft is going to have a first in his career in the National Hockey League on Thursday night.
It won’t be quite as exciting as a couple of weeks from now, but this will be the first time that Connor Bedard takes the ice at the United Center.
That’s because the Blackhawks are opening up the 2023 preseason against the Blues on Thursday, one of six exhibition games they’ll play before their season opener in Pittsburgh on October 10.
Bedard is on the roster for the contest against St. Louis as he takes the ice for the first time in a game against fellow NHL players. Earlier in September, the center took part in the first of two contests at the Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase in St. Paul, Minnesota.
During that contest against the Blues’ best young players, Bedard registered a hat trick, further adding to the anticipation of the start of his Blackhawks’ career.
Included in that is head coach Luke Richardson, who got to see what the center could do during that one game on September 16.
“From up above at the rookie tournament, it was real exciting to see him play just that one game,” said Richardson. “Another step, right? Now it’s going to be closer to the action and it wil be fun to see. Let’s see how the players react with him on our bench as well.
“It’s an exciting time for the whole organization and city, and I’m sure for him and a lot of the other young players who tonight, too.”
That will include fellow 2023 draft picks Martin Misiak (2nd round), Nick Lardis (3rd round), Marcel Marcel (5th round), 2022 seventh-overall pick Kevin Korchinski, 2020 first round pick Lucas Reichel.
General manager Kyle Davidson hopes this will be the start of a core that will bring the Blackhawks back to the top of the NHL. It is fair to say, however, that the attention will be on one player in particular.
Don’t expect that to change as Bedard gets more firsts in the league over the next few months.