How Connor Bedard Impacts Kyle Davidson's Draft Approach

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How Connor Bedard Impacts Kyle Davidson’s Draft Approach

Chicago Blackhawks

Last night when Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson spoke with the media after learning his rebuild plan had reached its first enormous winConnor Bedard — he was asked about whether or not having the top pick in a good, deep draft changes his plan or the timeline for his rebuild.

His answers to a couple questions along those lines grabbed my attention.

Regarding the timeline to be more competitive again, Davidson was very quick to remind all of the media in the room that he and his front office staff have never put a defined timeline on the rebuild. He has always maintained that development takes different amounts of time for different players, and an appropriate path to reaching each player’s ceiling isn’t standard.

But Bedard being a Chicago Blackhawk does impact that reality. Bedard is ready for the NHL now. Some analysts have said he would be a top-six forward in the NHL in his pre-draft season … as a 17-year-old.

And, again, Davidson has been smarter than many fans on social media give him credit for as he’s stacked assets in this draft and future drafts to give him options. It’s always been about mobility and access to top-tier talent, starting with last year’s draft. Davidson now knows he has eight picks in the first three rounds of a deep, talented draft.

Also remember Davidson has (potentially — they have protections) multiple picks in the first rounds of the next two years as well.

His answer to another question raised more eyebrows than mine last night.

“I said it to the staff right after we found out we had the No. 1 pick: We acquired all these assets and these draft pieces because we couldn’t rely on the odds,” Davidson said. “Having said that, now that we have the first overall pick, maybe that gives you more options to use some of those draft assets to move up. … It’s just options, and this gives us more options. We’re going to explore them.”

I put a phrase in bold for a reason. Use assets to move up?

There are going to be fan bases and front offices that are disappointed they didn’t land Bedard. Buffalo was devastated when they got Jack Eichel after they tanked as hard as any team in history and the relationship between the star forward — and No. 2 overall pick — and the fans was never quite right. That’s why he’s playing for Vegas in the playoffs right now.

And there are going to be teams that need more help than a single pick and might be willing to move back if they can add draft capital. With the depth of skill in this draft, the Blackhawks having that many picks (and future assets as well) is a dangerous proposition.

I’m sure there will start being some wild and crazy speculation about how the rest of the first round of this summer’s draft will play out now that the order of the top half of the draft is set. As a reminder: the Florida Panthers knocking out the Toronto Maple Leafs means Tampa’s first-round pick — owned by the Blackhawks via the Brandon Hagel trade — becomes No. 19 overall. And Florida has a 3-0 lead in that series.

Davidson has a lot of cap space to use and early indications are that he drafted quite well last year. And, now, Connor Bedard coming.

Let the fun begin.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab