Post Lottery Top 16 NHL Mock Draft - Blackhawks Select Connor Bedard
By Kyle Graden
Monday night's lottery results were a boon to not only the Blackhawks, but to the NHL as well. The Blackhawks have global reach as their 3 in 6 cup run is still fresh worldwide to players coming up and now they can add marquee name to that cache of advertisement. Perhaps everyone would have bought a Connor Bedard jersey in say Germany no matter where he would have went, but it being a beautiful (my opinion) Chicago Blackhawks jersey doesn't hurt.
With that being said, there is still alot to dive into now as the order of the top 16 was set. I'll place in the remaining 16 picks as they happen in a subsequent article. I feel this may be a draft where teams get aggressive for some of the elite talent in the top half of the draft so I will mock some trades in.
1. Blackhawks - C Connor Bedard - While this is not a surprise, there will still be some question marks going into next season: Did he gain strength in the off season? Will he play center or wing? Whom will he lineup with to start his career? These are questions that will come up, but for today it's just nice to know this is an easy selection.
2. Ducks - C Adam Fantilli - Fantilli is the best player in college hockey, has put up unreal numbers, and has size and IQ to spare as a pure center prospect. This is the #2 pick and I don't think it's debatable. This is, along with New Jersey and Buffalo, one of the best groups of pure young talent in the league.
3. Blue Jackets - C Leo Carlsson - Another pick where the more you think about it the more it's obvious. After signing Gaudreau and re-signing Laine along with having Werenski back from injury, this should be a win now or soon team. That means whomever is the player that comes over the quickest that has the biggest impact should be their guy. Carlsson is going to be a great top 6 forward (can play wing as well) and should be in the NHL as a teenager. This is the pick.
4. Sharks - RW Matvei Michkov - This is how I see it: Unless some news comes out that scares off teams even more so, then the Sharks at 4 and the Yotes at 6 are my landing spots. San Jose is going to be entering a Blackhawks-like teardown asap. They've already traded Meier and tried to deal Karlsson. They will be in a rebuild plan that will take time and taking a guy at 4 that is a #1 overall pick talent makes sense.
5. Canadiens - RW Zach Benson - With some USDP players worthy of the pick, I think the Habs stick in-house with the dynamic Langley BC-born wing to give themselves two under-sized elite scoring options. Benson has always been one of my favorites.
6. Coyotes - RD David Reinbacher - Maybe the first curveball of the evening. Reinbacher is having a Seider-sized affect on the scouting community of late and there is a ton to like: Size, right shot, poise, gap coverage, skating prowess, calmness are just a few adjectives to describe his game.
7. Flyers - C Will Smith - The Flyers luck out here and likely get their guy in Smith. They could be entering a long rebuild as their initial restart attempt has fizzled out with coaching choices and FA decisions. Smith would immediately give them an ace up their sleeve heading into the future.
MOCK TRADE ALERT!
The Washington Capitals have sent pick #8 and a 2024 5th round selection to the Chicago Blackhawks for picks #19, #35, and a 2024 2nd round pick (acquired from Vancouver).
8. Blackhawks - RW Ryan Leonard - Chicago gets aggresive here and sends 3 valuable assets to move up for the do-it-all Leonard. The USA product has proven he can play with a skilled center and is truly one of the drafts elite talents. The Hawks give up a little extra to get this across the finish line and Washington, needing an influx of quantity to the pipeline, get this deal done.
9. Red Wings - C Oliver Moore - In terms of a talented skater, then this is the guy. Moore has done more with less in terms of linemates when you talk about the vaulted Perreault-Smith-Leonard line. Detroit will always take the best player on the board and likely see Moore as that guy.
10. Blues - D Axel Sandin-Pellikka - In a perfect scenario I think the Blues would love if Reinbacher were still on the board. Sandin-Pellikka has increased his stock of late with a great WJC showing. He looks like a true top pairing puck mover at the NHL speed. The Blues know that an influx of blue line talent is needed and make the pick.
MOCK TRADE ALERT!
The Vancouver Canucks have traded their selection at #11 to Nashville for #15, #46, and 2024 4th round pick (own)
11. Predators - C Dalibor Dvorsky - Nashville excites the home crowd with a bold move and select a player that I see as a safe selection in Dvorsky. He has a very high floor, albeit not as high of a ceiling as some you could take here. He should come in a be an all situations top 6 very early on in his career. For a franchise that I think would like to pencil in a top 6 early on I think this would be a wise move.
12. Coyotes - LW Matthew Wood - To me this is a player that I could see going as high as 6 or slip into the late teens. He had a great scoring freshman year at UCONN and has size and skill. There are questions with skating, in particular that extra burst to get by defenders. He would normally be a top 10 lock though in most years.
13. Sabres - C Nate Danielson - Buffalo has drafted extremely well over the years and now have a team full of NHL contributors or guys that are almost ready. While defensive depth may be at the forefront of needs, I think taking Danielson as a do everything forward (center or wing perhaps) is the pick. He is an amazing center, has the size that teams covet, and plays all over the ice as a two-way player.
MOCK TRADE ALERT!
The Penguins have traded selections #14, #94, and #142 to Calgary for #16, and #48
14. Flames - LW Colby Barlow - Calgary makes a move to net them a goal scorer that is closer to the NHL than others in this range. Getting ahead of Vancouver here for Barlow is likely the driving force as both teams would like to add him. While Barlow has deficiencies in areas, you can not overlook his multitude of ways to put the puck in the back of the net. A team that is trying to get back to contention quickly will likely see Barlow at a premium over perhaps more talented all around players.
15. Canucks - RD Tom Willander - One of the fast risers after a great WJC, Willander appears to be headed as a mid first round pick now. He has decent size, is a right shot, and has that smooth flow to his defensive assignments. He was clearly an improved prospect in the tournament and NHL executives likely took notice. The Canucks could go in a lot of directions here, but I think this pick is one for the future they can rest easy on.
16. Penguins - LW Gabriel Perreault - Completing the trio of the top US line getting drafted, Perreault goes to a team that will almost assuredly start to try and rebuild with picks. Perhaps 2 years at college will hone his skills into a player the Pens can build around as Perreault has been an improving player all year.
I think that the second half of the first round will have even more trades and some reaches for defenseman over higher scoring major-junior prospects. Either way, if I'm Kyle Davidson, I am already on the phone with Brian MacLellan and the Capitals for that #8 pick. One of Benson, Smith, and Leonard will likely be there and I think the Blackhawks, now with Bedard, need to move up for them. I'm tempted to offer the Tampa 2024 pick just to get it done.
What an exciting night last night and one we are all still surely reeling from. Did it happen? I still check to make sure I didn't imagine it at times. Let's now not lose focus on getting the young Connor Bedard help, both as linemates and defensive picks that we can use to build a cup winning "team". When we were at our best, it was because we had players in all areas, it wasn't a one man show ever. The future is exciting, it's also now "here".