Connor Bedard, hockey’s newest phenom, was selected first overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2023 NHL Draft Wednesday. The 17-year-old centre is already being compared to the greats of the sport and has already made his mark on the Chicago fanbase.

“It’s incredible. I can’t it put into words,” Bedard said in his Wednesday news conference. “Growing up, they were going on their runs, winning [Stanley] Cups. You see the United Center going crazy and all of Chicago getting behind them. I’m so happy to part of the Blackhawks organization.”

Going into the draft, the debate surrounding Bedard had nothing to do with his ability, but his ceiling. Some hesitate to call him a generational talent, on the level of Wayne Gretzky or Connor McDavid when they first entered the league. Others are more than prepared to do so, however, as multiple teams are rumored to have tanked their 2022-23 seasons in order to draft him.

“He’s a pretty special player, a very special person, Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson told reporters. “We’ll let him determine how special that first season is.

Within hours of the draft, the Blackhawks made $2.5 million in season ticket sales, an immediate result of Bedard’s arrival in the city. With a 26-49-7 record last season, Chicago’s fanbase has immediately been revitalized by the team’s most recent acquisition.

“I can’t put into words growing up and obviously, that’s when they were going on their runs winning Cups,” Bedard went on to say. “You watched a lot of them and you see the United Center going crazy and all of Chicago getting behind them and you know (the) Original Six and so much history here.”

For the past three seasons, Bedard has made a name for himself in the junior-level Canadian Hockey League, playing for the Regina Pats. He gained entry to the league one year early after gaining exceptional status. Representing Canada at the 2022 Junior Ice Hockey Championships, Bedard broke Gretzky’s record for most goals scored by a 16-year-old at the event.

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