Blackhawks sign first overall pick Connor Bedard to entry-level contract

Sources: Blackhawks sign No. 1 overall pick Connor Bedard to entry-level contract originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The Chicago Blackhawks have signed Connor Bedard to an entry-level three-year contract, sources have confirmed to NBC Sports Chicago. The news will be made official on Monday morning; the deal was first reported by The Athletic.

Bedard, who turned 18 on Monday, was selected by the Blackhawks with the first overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft on Wednesday, joining Patrick Kane as the only other player in franchise history to be picked first. .

“It’s amazing,” Bedard said after being drafted. “I can’t put it in words. Growing up, that was obviously when they were racing, winning Cups, and I was watching a lot of them. You see the United Center go crazy and everything Chicago supporting them.. Original Six and so much history there. I really can’t put it into words and I’m so excited to be a part of the organization.

Bedard is ineligible to play in the American Hockey League next season due to Canadian Hockey League rules, which means he must play in the NHL or return to the WHL. He’s essentially a lock to be on the Blackhawks’ opening roster, and his entry-level contract will officially go into effect after he plays his 10th NHL game.

Bedard had 143 points (71 goals, 72 assists) in 57 games last season for the Regina Pats, who led all Western Hockey League skaters by a considerable margin, and had 20 points ( 10 goals, 10 assists) in seven playoff games. In June, Bedard won the Canadian Hockey League Top Prospect Award, Top Scorer Award and CHL David Branch Player of the Year Award. He is the first player in CHL history to win all three awards.

Bedard also carried Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he set a new Canadian record for most points in a single tournament with 23 (nine goals, 14 assists) in just seven games.

“He’s a top player and he’s obviously an exceptional talent,” Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson said. “I think he has the personality and the desire to get off the ice to handle all the extra attention he gets. He knows how to handle it. It doesn’t really change him.

“I think he’s just a guy who wants to be one of the guys, and that’s what we want to be. We want him to fit in. We want the team to grow as a team. , not as an individual, and then everyone follow. And I think that’s what he wants. So I can’t wait to start the season and see him at rookie camp and then at main camp regular, and to see him personally on the ice. It will be fun to be behind the bench with him.”

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