Practically every day since it was announced that the Blackhawks had won the lottery and were awarded the first overall pick on May 8th, Blackhawks fans have raved about Connor Bedard “speeding up the rebuild process”, making Chicago an “instant contender”, or saying he’ll “take years off the rebuild timer”.
However, it’s been proven time and time again that one player doesn’t make a championship team at the NHL level. Sure, there are examples like Sidney Crosby and even the combination of Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, but those players weren’t alone in their endeavors, and none of them were playing on rosters as young and unproven as the upcoming rendition of the Blackhawks. Top prospects like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews, on the other hand, can easily be held ringless.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is a championship team. Thus, it’s important to remember that the Blackhawks aren’t meant to be contenders just yet. Unless something goes massively unexpectedly, Chicago won’t even see the playoffs this year. GM Kyle Davidson has even said in the past that building a winner takes time, and he’ll need at least another draft to do so.
Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest Chicago sports news delivered to your inbox every morning.
It isn’t as if that championship team will be compiled completely outside the building, however, as the team boasts one of the top prospect pools in the entire NHL. Kevin Korchinski, for example, was drafted seventh overall next year and will contribute at the top level soon. He was already one of the most valuable players on the Seattle Thunderbirds team that recently won the WHL Championship. Frank Nazar was drafted just six picks later in the same draft and also projects to be impactful for the Blackhawks sooner rather than later. First-round picks obviously have the highest upside and highest floor, and Korchinski and Nazar are among those who are no exception. Thus, Bedard won’t be alone in his efforts to turn the franchise around, as the Blackhawks have a barrage of high-profile prospects at the ready.
On the other hand, the Blackhawks can’t NOT rush it. An NHL player’s career doesn’t last forever. It’s a physical game, and at 5’10”, 185 lbs., Connor Bedard probably won’t be playing until age 50. Additionally, a team can’t lock down a rookie, even one of Bedard’s stature, for more than three years. From the moment he gets drafted, the clock is ticking to turn this team into a contender. While the Hawks certainly have a head start on negotiations once his three-year contract is up, there’s no guarantee he’ll be back. With his talent, provided everything goes smoothly in his transition to the NHL, he’ll want a shot at a Stanley Cup every single season. If Chicago can’t offer that, their “golden boy” may not spend his entire career there.
With the Blackhawks seemingly coming out of their “rebuild” stage, it’s important for both the front office and the fans to exercise patience. Although a generational talent like Bedard can speed up a rebuild, the process won’t be instantaneous. However, the team can’t wait forever by stockpiling draft picks and playing for the future, as Bedard’s career in Chicago won’t last forever. Kyle Davidson and his staff must find a “happy medium” while navigating this rebuild in a situation where timing is everything.