Connor Bedard is officially a Chicago Blackhawk.
The sensational young talent from Vancouver was selected with the No. 1 overall pick in Wednesday night’s 2023 NHL Draft in Nashville.
Bedard — who turns 18 in July — will be tasked with helping turn around a team that finished with the second-lowest point total in the league last year.
With fans hoping to see a return to glory that included three Stanley Cups last decade, the Blackhawks sold more than $5 million in season tickets after winning the NHL Draft lottery — and thus the rights to Bedard — in May.
The maximum salary Bedard can earn during his rookie season is about $4.5 million, but he’s already finding other paydays. Ahead of the draft, he signed an apparel deal with Lululemon, the Canadian athleisure brand based in Bedard’s hometown.
While most hockey experts anticipate Bedard being ready for opening night at the Pittsburgh Penguins on Oct. 10, Blackhawk fans will have to wait until the second weekend of the season to see the rookie play at the United Center. The Blackhawks host the Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights in their home opener on Oct. 21.
Mark It Down
The NHL officially released its schedule this week ahead of the draft.
Highlights include an opening night tripleheader on ESPN, Global Series games visiting Australia in the preseason and Sweden in November, two outdoor games at MetLife Stadium on consecutive days — and all 30 teams playing on Black Friday.