The Chicago Blackhawks made a franchise-changing selection on Wednesday night by selecting the highly-touted Connor Bedard first overall at the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. Roughly an hour-and-a-half later, the Blackhawks picked speedster Oliver Moore at No. 19 overall. Rounds 2-7 will take place Thursday night in Nashville starting at 11 a.m.
1. Connor Bedard
Bedard, who will turn 18 on July 17, entered the draft as the consensus number one prospect. He posted dizzying numbers in the Western Hockey League with the Regina Pats to the tune of a whopping 143 points (71G, 72A) in 57 games for an average of 2.51 points per game. The North Vancouver, British Columbia native scooped up the league’s Bobby Clarke Trophy as the WHL’s leading scorer, and he finished first in goals and tied for first in assists on his way to capturing the Four Broncos Trophy as the 2022-23 WHL Player of the Year.
Bedard stood out at this year’s IIHF World Junior Championships where he led Team Canada to a gold medal and led the entire tournament in scoring with 23 points (9G, 14A) in seven games. Logan Cooley, the next highest scorer, tabbed 14 points (7G, 7A). With Team Canada, Bedard skated with current Blackhawks prospects Kevin Korchinski and Ethan Del Mastro, who could be turning pro this year.
"It's an unbelievable feeling to be here with my family and friends to get to hear my name be called and experience that, especially with such a storied organization," Bedard said. "Everything I heard about the city and the people there is nothing but positive, so I can't wait for that."
General Manager Kyle Davidson knows how important the first overall pick can be for building a championship-caliber team. Bedard will be one of the cornerstones for the Blackhawks to construct their future upon.
"When you're building a team and obviously first overall is a place where you hope you can get that and I feel like we've got a player in Connor that has every chance to be that type of player for us," Davidson said.
19. Oliver Moore
Moore, 18, brings abundant speed to the Blackhawks’ organization. With the United States National Team Development Program, the Mounds View, Minnesota native amassed 75 points (31G, 44A) in 61 games while playing alongside other 2023 first-round selections like Will Smith (SJS – 4th overall), Ryan Leonard (WSH – 8th overall), and Gabriel Perreault (NYR – 23rd overall). The 5-foot-11 forward was hailed as the fastest player in the 2023 draft. According to an article in The Athletic by Scott Wheeler back in April, USNTDP strength and conditioning coach Brian Galivan believes Moore has elite speed, even at the NHL level.
“I would put him up there in the same speed category as Connor McDavid and I would think he’s probably faster than Connor McDavid was at the same age. I’m not comparing him as a player but from an athleticism and speed standpoint, I’ve never trained (McDavid) but there’s no way he’s as fast as Oliver,” Galivan said. “Dylan Larkin was here just before me but if I had to bet I’d put my money on Oliver all day. And that’s said professionally. Like I’m sorry man, there’s probably very few guys in hockey who could beat him in a race.”
Davidson was ready to trade up to grab Moore at a higher draft pick, but the Blackhawks were instead able to stand firm at 19.
"We had Oliver way higher than we picked him," Davidson said. "We were constantly trying to move up for a lot of picks. I was working the phones trying to get up with him in mind and so it's almost a perfect scenario where we just stayed."
Moore is committed to the University of Minnesota for the 2023-24 season where he will try to lead the Gophers back to the Frozen Four. Minnesota lost to Quinnipiac in overtime in the championship final last season.
The Blackhawks hold the rights to four second-round picks- more than any other team in the NHL currently. Below is a list of Day 2 picks currently held by Chicago:
Round 2: #35, #44 (from Ottawa), #51 (from Tampa Bay), #55 (from New York Rangers)
Round 3: #67, #93 (from Dallas)
Round 4: #99
Round 5: #131
Round 6: -
Round 7: #195