Good morning, Chicago!
Today is the day for all Blackhawks fans to say a prayer, rub your best good luck charm or maybe do a good deed in an attempt to grab some last-minute karma.
Actually, go ahead and do all three. The NHL Draft Lottery is tonight at 7 and the Hawks’ rebuild could hop into a warp tunnel if everything falls just right and the top spot comes to Chicago.
Up for grabs is the right to draft Connor Bedard, the 17-year-old center from Vancouver. The Blackhawks hold the third-best odds in the lottery with an 11.5-percent shot at the top spot with only Anaheim (18.5 percent) and Columbus (13.5) ahead of them.
You’ve probably heard Bedard’s name once if you’ve heard it 300 times this season.
But if you’ve checked out on the Hawks the past few years, here’s what’s at stake.
• Bedard is considered a generational talent on par with other no-doubt No. 1 picks likes Sidney Crosby or Connor McDavid. If those names don’t mean much to you, think Lebron James or Peyton Manning. Though the Hawks’ rebuild seems on solid footing even before Kyle Davidson makes this year’s 11 picks, getting Bedard could speed it up a year or two.
• Bedard has absolutely owned the junior ranks. He was the first player in Western Hockey League history to be allowed entry at 15 years old. He scored an insane 134 goals and 137 assists over 134 career WHL games.
• He led Team Canada to a gold medal at the World Junior Championships this past winter with nine goals and 23 points over seven games. He is Canada’s all-time leading scorer at the world juniors.
If the Hawks don’t pull the No. 1 spot tonight, there are a number of good consolation prizes (including Adam Fantilli from the University of Michigan) and they can’t draft any lower than fifth at the NHL Draft at the end of June.
Still, it’d be the Hawks’ biggest win since June 15, 2015 if the win the Bedard sweepstakes tonight.
Keep those fingers crossed.
The Week Ahead
• Willson Contreras — who is already no longer a catcher — makes his first trip to Wrigley Field in a Cardinals uniform tonight, weather permitting. The Cubs are 17-17 after a Sunday’s 14-inning loss to the Marlins, but own a 6.5-game lead in the standings over St. Louis. A weekend trip to Minnesota follows the three-game set against the Cards.
• Can the White Sox keep some of their momentum going after a 4-2 week? Four games in Kansas City should theoretically help before returning to the South Side for three agaisnt the Astros next weekend.
• Keep your eye on Thursday for the potential release of the Bears‘ 2023 schedule. However, there’s talk the NFL could delay the announcement with the location and dates of some big games still to be resolved, including that rumored Chiefs-Bears matchup in Germany.
• The Fire fired coach Ezra Hendrickson early this morning and replaced him with assistant Frank Klopas, who will lead the team against St. Louis in Tuesday’s U.S. Open Cup match in Bridgeview.
• The Red Stars will be in Louisville on Friday for a matchup of the NWSL’s bottom two teams.
• Our Sky Podcast returns on Tuesday with the team’s final preseason tuneup taking place in Minnesota on Saturday.