CHICAGO — On Monday, May 8, 2023, at 7:22 p.m. central time, luck helped provide a historic moment in time for Chicago’s National Hockey League franchise.
That’s when deputy commissioner Billy Daly flipped over the card with the No. 1 on it at the NHL Draft Lottery in Secaucus, New Jersey, and it had a Blackhawks logo on it. That signified the team’s place at the top of the first round of the 2023 National Hockey League draft, securing the shot to select one of the best prospects in years.
“Wow,” was the reaction of general manager Kyle Davidson, who was watching along with so many in hockey as the Blackhawks’ rebuild had its greatest moment to date.
As members of the team celebrated inside the United Center, which was captured by the team on their social media accounts, fans rejoiced at the Blackhawks’ NHL Lottery victory. It’s just the third time in team history that they’ve won the drawing, the second time they’ve held the first overall pick, which comes after they had just an 11.5 percent chance to get it.
Of course, that means the Blackhawks get the chance to select the consensus top overall prospect in the 2023 NHL Draft: Connor Bedard.
The 17-year-old center is considered a franchise-altering player and is coming off a second-straight World Juniors Championship with Team Canada along with a 71-goal, 72-assist season with the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.
Davidson wouldn’t name Bedard as his sure pick on June 28 in Nashville, but he didn’t shy away from the importance of this pick for the Blackhawks’ franchise.
“You understand the impact that a first overall pick can have, and having the first overall pick in the right year. Hopefully, that’s what we have here,” said Davidson of winning the NHL Lottery to get the top pick. “It can change a franchise, it can change a city, and it can change an era in a team’s history.”
It’s safe to say that it’s a big moment for Davidson, who has undertaken a full rebuild of the team that included saying goodbye to a few franchise icons and the drop of the Blackhawks to the bottom of the NHL standings.
Does Davidson feel like he was vindicated by the lottery victory for essentially constructing a team to finish low to get a shot at No. 1?
“No,” said Davidson when asked that question. “No matter where we picked, I think we were going to get a great player. I think we’re going to get a player that could be a potential cornerstone – I feel that strongly about this draft. Whether we picked 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5, we’re going to get a player that was going to be a major piece for us.
“I was very happy once we have started really digging really heavily into the draft process in the second half what was available to us, no matter where we finished in that top 5. So I don’t think it’s vindication, it’s certainly a nice bonus and a nice surprise to come away with No. 1.”
He’s not alone in his thinking on a historic night for the Blackhawks.