What NHL Team Will Win the Connor Bedard Sweepstakes?

What NHL Team Will Win the Connor Bedard Sweepstakes?
© USA Today

After shining at the recently completed World Junior Hockey Championship, where he was named tournament MVP while setting a scoring record, all eyes are now on which NHL team will get to choose 17-year-old Connor Bedard first overall at the league draft in July.

On Sunday, Bedard had six points for the Regina Pats in their 6-2 win over the Calgary Hitmen in WHL action.

The NHL has a draft lottery system for the 16 teams that miss the playoffs. The lower a team finishes in the regular season standings, the better their chances of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the lottery – and that’s going to be Bedard, a generational talent led by an elite-level understanding of the game, quick and fast, reminding observers of Mitch Marner or Patrick Kane, a difference-maker for any NHL team that gets him. 

Any team that finishes in the bottom five will feel they have a good shot at getting him. Last year the Montreal Canadiens had an 18.5 per cent chance of winning the draft lottery, they did, and they chose Juraj Slafkovsky as No. 1 overall.

So the push for a few NHL teams as the season goes on is to purposely bottom out. If these teams aren’t, they should be. What do you think is going through the minds of Vancouver Canucks’ fans these days, a team with a 17-19-3 record, one nostril above the waves, just five points out of the bottom five (San Jose currently is fifth worst with 32 points)? What about a garage sale, dump the season and make a concerted effort at a “Tampa Tank” and go for a better shot at the drafting the North Vancouver-born Bedard? 

Which team is most likely to get him, again, depending on where they end up after the lottery? According to Moneypuck.com, these teams have the best odds to win the draft lottery:

  • Arizona (8.1 per cent)
  • Montreal (8.9 per cent)
  • Columbus (13.1 per cent)
  • Anaheim (13.4 per cent)
  • Chicago (14.3 per cent)

Where are the Canucks here? At 6.3 per cent and gaining. 

The trade deadline this year – March 3 – will be especially interesting, with a generational player like Bedard sitting out there. 

Do the Blackhawks help salt the best lottery odds by dealing Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews? And the Canucks, with J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat, maybe Tyler Myers or Luke Schenn? And what about the Blue Jackets and Patrick Laine?

While the marketing benefits of Bedard going to Chicago are great, the Hawks are terrible, with nowhere near the player infrastructure that Columbus, or Anaheim, for example, has in place. He would be toiling there on his own for a long time. 

Montreal is enticing – the Habs are much further along in laying down a foundation, where Bedard would fit in very nicely.