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Connor Bedard Derby: Finishing No. 2 in Lottery Not Always Lost Cause

Blackhawks, Ducks Should Both Land Impact Players in NHL Draft

Bedard Will Become Face of Blackhawks

For as long as there are draft lotteries – like the one held by the NHL on Monday night – and franchise-changing players like Connor Bedard available, there will be flashbacks to times when finishing first was the only goal.

No team wants to land the Ryan Leaf to the lottery winner’s Peyton Manning. Or, in NHL terms, end up with a solid forward like Bobby Ryan instead of a future Hall of Famer like Sidney Crosby.

Connor Bedard Derby: Finishing No. 2 in Lottery Not Always Lost Cause
Connor Bedard #16 of Team Canada - Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images/afp

The good news on Monday is that although the Anaheim Ducks might have finished second in the draft lottery despite having the best odds, landing University of Michigan winger Adam Fantilli with the No. 2 pick isn’t the worst consolation prize.

Naturally, Chicago getting the top pick – and the right to take Bedard – dominated the NHL news cycle.

The Chicago Blackhawks and Anaheim Ducks can only hope that things turn out much like they did in 2004, when the Washington Capitals landed Alex Ovechkin at No. 1 and Pittsburgh drafted Evgeni Malkin. The NHL predictions figure to start with Bedard in the 2023-24 Calder Trophy odds.

There was some debate when it came to those making NHL picks at the top of some recent drafts. That will not be the case next month when Bedard will be the unquestioned top pick.

Each of the eight remaining teams in the Stanley Cup playoffs have at least one player on the roster who were picked either first or second in the NHL Entry Draft.

Here is a look at how the No. 1 vs No. 2 picks fared since Connor McDavid landed in Edmonton and Jack Eichel was picked second by Buffalo. That was the last time a prospect drew the type of buzz that Bedard is getting.

2015: Oilers Hit Paydirt

Long before anybody heard of Bedard, another Connor was setting the hockey world on fire.

After McDavid had 44 goals and 76 assists in 47 games during the regular season with the Ontario Hockey League‘s Erie Otters and added 49 points in 20 postseason games, Edmonton never hesitated in selecting McDavid. The NHL betting lines project McDavid will win the Hart Memorial Trophy for the third time this season.

The list of players who recorded more points in a season than the 153 McDavid had this season is limited to Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman.

Eichel has been a very good player with 446 points in 476 games. However, there is no comparison between McDavid and Eichel. They are seeing plenty of each other as Eichel, now with the Vegas Golden Knights, and McDavid have their teams going head-to-head in one of the two Western Conference series. McDavid is a popular player when it comes to those who take part in live betting.

Eichel leads Vegas with five points in the first three games of the series against Edmonton. McDavid also has five points in the series.

2016: Auston Time in Toronto

Five of the top seven players taken in the 2016 draft have at least 300 points.

Auston Matthews went first and has 542 points in 481 regular-season games with the Toronto Maple Leafs. That is 163 more points than Patrik Laine, the second overall pick by Winnipeg.

The most interesting aspect of this draft is that Laine and No. 3 pick Pierre-Luc Dubois were traded for each other. Laine has 58 goals and 71 assists in 156 games for Columbus. Dubois has 63 goals and 80 points in 195 games with the Jets.

2017: Who’s No. 1?

This is a draft that leaves the No. 2 team with buyer’s remorse as Nolan Patrick never had more than 31 points in his three seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers. He is now with the Vegas Golden Knights. However, Patrick missed the entire 2022-23 season.

Nico Hischier has been much better after going No. 1 overall to New Jersey. However, the best player out of that draft is probably Colorado defenseman Cale Makar, the No. 4 pick while No. 5 selection Elias Pettersson of the Vancouver Canucks has the most points (323).

2018: The Defense Never Rests

Four of the top 10 picks were defensemen and that includes Rasmus Dahlin being the top pick by the Buffalo Sabres. Dahlin had career highs of 15 goals and 73 points for the Sabres this season.

The Carolina Hurricanes were more than happy to scoop up winger Andrei Svechnikov with the second selection so both teams did pretty well at the top of this draft.

2019: Devils Land a Star

There was no doubt that Jack Hughes was going to be the top pick in 2019, and when the New Jersey Devils won the draft lottery for the second time in three years, there was little hesitation when it came to making the top selection.

Hughes has more goals (87) and assists (120) than any other player picked in 2019. After finishing with 18 goals and 34 points in 117 games in his first two NHL seasons, Hughes recorded 69 goals and 86 points in 127 regular-season games over the last two seasons. The NHL odds will have Hughes as an MVP candidate for the foreseeable future.

No. 2 pick Kaapo Kaako had his best season with the New York Rangers with 18 goals and 22 assists. Still, more is expected from a top-two pick than 98 points in 239 games.

2020: No. 3 Pick the Real Prize

The top two scorers out of the 2020 draft are Ottawa forward Tim Stutzle and Detroit forward Lucas Raymond, who were picked third and fourth.

Alexis Lafreniere was the top pick by the Rangers and his 91 points in 216 games are nothing to get too excited about. It is still better than the 33 points in 99 games by No. 2 selection Quinton Byfield. Byfield has yet to spend an entire season at the NHL level so perhaps he will be an anchor for the Los Angeles Kings.

2021: Power Leads the Way

Both the Buffalo Sabres and the expansion Seattle Kraken landed players they can build around.

Defenseman Owen Power was the top pick. The 6-foot-6 Power had 35 points and was +10 in his first full NHL season. Forward Matty Beniers, who according to the Las Vegas odds is the favorite to win the Calder Trophy as the Rookie of the Year, had 24 goals and 33 assists during the regular season.

There has been chatter that No. 4 overall pick Luke Hughes, Jack’s younger brother, could be the most talented player in this draft. No. 3 pick Mason McTavish and No. 5 selection Kent Johnson have promising futures with Anaheim and Columbus, two of the top three teams in the 2023 draft lottery.

2022: Jury Is Still Out

This was another year when it was unclear who would be the top pick.

Shane Wright fell to No. 4 as the Montreal Canadiens selected the 6-foot-3, 238-pound Juraj Slafkovsky with the top pick. He jumped right to the NHL and had 10 points in 39 games.

The Devils took defenseman Simon Nemec with the second selection. He had 12 goals and 34 points to go with a +13 rating with the American Hockey League’s Utica Comets. Both will get plenty of chances in the coming seasons to prove that they deserved to be at the top of the draft class.

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