With Connor Bedard Nearing a Return, will the Blackhawks Draft Position Worsen?

Chicago Blackhawks v New Jersey Devils
Chicago Blackhawks v New Jersey Devils / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

When New Jerey Devils veteran defenseman Brendan Smith hit (and fractured his jaw) Connor Bedard on January 5th it seemed that the Blackhawks could potentially go into an even worse point % window than the one it was currently in at the time. With just 3 wins since that hit, the Blackhawks looked like they would finish no worse than with the 2nd best odds (13.5%) at again securing the #1 selection in the NHL Entry Draft.

With rumblings (from head coach Luke Richardson over the last few press conferences) as well as his on-ice work of late, it seems that the franchise center is nearing a return to action. Charlie Roumeliotis of NBC Sports with a video today of Bedard on the ice:

So should Blackhawks fans think about canceling those Macklin Celebrini dreams? Yes and no. No, in the sense that the Blackhawks won the lottery last year with the 3rd best odds and yes in the sense that even if the losing continues the team that finishes 32nd in the league only has around a 1/4 chance at that top pick.

When the injury first occured, Blackhawk Up predicted a February 21st return (home game against the Flyers) and that still seems to be on point. If that is indeed the return date that would leave 26 games in which the Blackhawks would not only get Connor Bedard back in the lineup but potentially players like Andreas Athanasiou, Connor Murphy, and Anthony Beauvillier as well. That could mean at least a more competitive group that could secure a higher point % that would perhaps see teams like San Jose or Anaheim bypass Chicago in the standings cellar.

With 2 games in hand, the Blackhawks are only in the 32nd position by 2 points over the Sharks. With a game in hand on the Ducks, they are 7 points behind the Californian team. At this stage of the season though, it appears those 3 franchises will compete for the best odds in the lottery for this June's draft.

Will it be Chicago that ultimately secures the best odds? From Blackhawk Up's perspective: who cares, we are all just ready to see #98 back on the ice and exciting the fanbase once again!

Connor Bedard
Winnipeg Jets v Chicago Blackhawks / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages