The Chicago Blackhawks were blessed early in the offseason. When they went into the NHL’s Draft Lottery in May, they had no better than the third-best opportunity to come away with the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft.
— NHL (@NHL) August 30, 2023
But Lady Luck smiled on the Blackhawks, and when deputy commissioner Bill Daly was done making his announcements and showing placards with team logos, it was the Blackhawks who were awarded the No. 1 spot in the June draft.
As a result, the Blackhawks were able to draft Connor Bedard, who has widely been recognized as the top prospect to come into the league since Connor McDavid. The Blackhawks certainly know they have drafted a sensational talent, and they are going to build their team around him for the foreseeable future.
Patience is the word
When it comes to the development of the team, the Blackhawks organization is preaching patience with their fan base. They don’t want the fans to think that because they have Bedard that they will return to elite status in the league right away.
That’s the perception, but head coach Luke Richardson is not going to ask his players to give anything but their level best on an every-night basis. While the expectations are not high, teams do find a way to come up with surprising years from time to time, and that is just what Richardson is going to try to get from his players.
At the same time, he wants to make sure that Bedard will be in the best position to succeed. While the Blackhawks are not going to be a one-man team, it’s clear that the rookie has a special talent for shooting and scoring. The Blackhawks certainly want to take advantage of that skill, and that’s why they acquired former Hart Trophy winner Taylor Hall from the Boston Bruins.
Hall is a speed merchant and an excellent skater. When he gets an opportunity to beat the defense with his speed and agility, he will have an excellent chance to set up Bedard for high-level scoring opportunities.
The Blackhawks may be interested in bringing in other players who can accelerate Bedard’s development.
Trade prospects on the Blackhawks
Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson has shown that he is not afraid to make moves that he thinks will improve the team. That is almost certainly the case with a team that features a number of young players and is in the developmental stage.
The Blackhawks appear to be in a position to make moves throughout the season, including prior to the team’s season opener, Davidson and Richardson will see how players look in training camp, and if there are moves to be made that helps in either Bedard’s development or will make the team stronger in the future, they will not hesitate to make the deal.
The most attractive trade prospect the Blackhawks have at this point may be defenseman Connor Murphy. He is likely to be paired with Seth Jones, another solid defenseman, but Murphy may be the more attractive player to potential trade partners because he has a more reasonable salary than Jones.
The 30-year-old Murphy is a high-priced player at $5.8 million per year, but Jones has $12.5 million coming in the 2023-24 season. Murphy has spent 10 years in the league, including 4 with the Coyotes and 6 with the Blackhawks. He is a capable right-shot defenseman who could be quite valuable for any contending team that may suffer an injury to its blue line crew during training camp.
Lukas Reichel and Andreas Athanasiou
In addition to Bedard, the Blackhawks have a couple of young players they have been developing in Taylor Raddysh and Lukas Reichel. Raddysh figures to be on the same line as Bedard and Hall, and the Blackhawks are not likely to trade him.
They also have hopes that Reichel will turn into a productive left wing after he scored 7 goals and 8 assists in 23 games last season. The 21-year-old appears to have the potential to be a solid second-line scorer.
However, what if training camp does not go well for him and frustration starts to set in? Perhaps another team will see that and make a legitimate offer for his services. If a talented young prospect could bring in a key veteran who can help Bedard, it might be a trade to consider.
The other player to consider moving is veteran forward Andreas Athanasiou, who has long been one of the fastest players in the league. He scored 20 goals last year for the Blackhawks, and he may be the kind of player that opposing teams consider adding to their lineup.