Connor Bedard will be sitting out when the Chicago Blackhawks host the Edmonton Oilers. A fractured jaw Connor suffered in New Jersey will rob Chicago of a chance to see Bedard face Connor McDavid at the United Center.
Watching McDavid and the Oilers skate on the Madhouse ice gives Hawks fans a chance to see what the franchise could become with a generational talent as the cornerstone of a good roster.
Now no one has underachieved as much as the Oilers have with McDavid on the team (we are using the context of having an immensely talented roster and not winning a Stanley Cup yet). Well, except for the Calgary Flames. There must be something going on in Alberta.
Anyways, at least the Oilers are consistently competing for a playoff spot whereas the Blackhawks are constantly at the top of the Tankathon.com/NHL standings.
Edmonton has not had to worry about their lottery odds in a while thanks to putting talent around McDavid. The hope is the Hawks can do the same with Bedard.
Hopefully, the Chicago Blackhawks can follow the same roadmap as the Oilers.
The Oilers used a first-round pick in the draft before McDavid to get Leon Draisaitl. He was taken third overall in the 2014 draft. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was selected No. 1 overall in 2011. Ryan McLeod was a second-round pick in 2018. That is four high draft picks used by the Oilers to put together their top six. They traded for Warren Foegele and signed Zach Hyman in free agency to round out their top two lines.
Hyman leads the team with 25 goals and is carrying a cap hit of just $5.5 million through the 2027-28 season. That is a bargain considering top goal scorers usually cost in the $8-$11 million range.
The blue line was built by drafting Darnell Nurse in 2013 and Evan Bouchard in 2018 during those drafts' first round. They traded for Mattias Ekholm and made a bargain signing with Cody Ceci to round their top two defensive pairings. Edmonton then drafted goalie Stuart Sinker in the third round of the 2017 draft.
The roster has been rounded with shrewd free-agent signings since the Oilers are right up against the cap. They took on the risk of Evander Kane and he has stayed out of trouble since coming to Edmonton.
The Oilers built the core of their team by hitting on first-round picks, making a couple of trades, and two big free-agent signings that did not break the salary cap.
As you can see acquiring all that talent took some time.
That is why it might be a few seasons before we see the Blackhawks competing for a playoff spot with Bedard. Sure, the Blackhawks could take a shortcut and sign some free agents or make a blockbuster trade. This current Hawks rebuild is happening all because of trying to take that shortcut.
The Oilers were patient and they have not finished lower the second in the Pacific Division since the 2018-19 season. There was a lot of losing before then, but it paid off with getting McDavid and Draisaitl. Putting the pieces around them has kept those two contending for a Stanley Cup. Hopefully, the Hawks can do the same with Bedard.