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Connor Bedard’s rookie season: Tracking the goals of the Chicago Blackhawks’ No. 1 pick

At 13 years old, Connor Bedard, the North Vancouver, Canada, native, was proclaimed “the future of hockey.”

Four years later, the Chicago Blackhawks — who chose Patrick Kane with the franchise’s first overall selection in history in 2007 — took about a minute and a half once the clock started during the 2023 NHL draft to select Bedard at No. 1, christening him as the “cornerstone” of their attempt to build the next Chicago sports dynasty.

With fans at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tenn., chanting, “Let’s go, Hawks,” general manager Kyle Davidson stepped onto the podium and said: “I’d like to say hi to all the Blackhawks fans back in Chicago, Blackhawks fans here today and Blackhawks fans watching around the world.

“And with the first overall selection in the 2023 NHL draft, the Chicago Blackhawks are very proud to select, from the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, Connor Bedard.”

Davidson later told reporters he was impressed by “how great (Bedard) wants to be.”

“He takes nothing for granted,” Davidson said. “He’s humble. ... He just gets it.”

For Bedard, his selection was the culmination of years of expectation and anticipation.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be with my family and friends and get to hear my name be called and experience that, especially with such a storied organization,” Bedard said. “Everything I’ve heard about the people there has been nothing but positives.

“Very thankful that the staff, Kyle, (coach) Luke (Richardson), everyone put their faith in me with that pick.”

During Bedard’s first day of Blackhawks prospect camp in September, he told reporters he was ready for his NHL debut.

“I want to play a game so bad, it’s been so long, so I’m really excited for that,” he said.

“Of course there’s been a lot of photos and interviews, which is great. But I want to play hockey, so it’s good to get back here and get everything started and focus on that.”

During Bedard’s 39th game of the season — just 24 hours after he was named an NHL All-Star — he suffered a fractured jaw and went on injury reserve.

Here’s a look at Bedard’s rookie season, goal-by-goal.

Goal No. 1

Oct. 11: Bedard tucked a wraparound goal past Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark to score the only goal for the Hawks in a 3-1 loss.

At 18 years, 86 days, Bedard became the third-youngest player in franchise history to record his first goal behind Grant Mulvey (18 years, 32 days on Oct. 19, 1974) and Eddie Olczyk (18 years, 56 days on Oct. 11, 1984). He was also the 23rd youngest in NHL history.

Bedard recorded his first NHL point, an assist, in the opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Goal No. 2

Oct. 21: It didn’t take long for Bedard to wow the home crowd in his first game at the United Center. He scored 1 minute, 30 seconds, into the first period for his second goal of the season.

The Hawks lost 5-3, with the defending champion Vegas Golden Knights scoring three third-period goals.

Goal No. 3

Oct. 27: Following a disappointing 3-0 loss to the Bruins that included a kneeling, roof-shot, power-play goal by Bedard that was wiped out by an offside call, he struck again two nights later.

He ripped a shot past Knights goalie Adin Hill, set up by Nick Foligno’s no-look chip. The Hawks won 4-3 on Philipp Kurashev’s overtime goal at T-Mobile Arena.

Bedard became the youngest player to score in each of his first two games against the defending Stanley Cup champions, according to NHL Stats. He notched goals against the Golden Knights on Oct. 21 and Oct. 27.

Goal No. 4

Oct. 30: The Hawks jumped on the Coyotes from the outset with Bedard scoring 28 seconds into the game. But it didn’t last, as Arizona answered two minutes later.

It seemed like the Coyotes were primed for a big breakout, and unfortunately for the Hawks, they happened to be on the business end of it: an 8-1 bludgeoning.

Goal No. 5

Nov. 4: Bedard’s fifth goal in 10 games happened 5:29 into the second period against the Florida Panthers. He snapped a shot under the glove of Panthers goalie Anthony Stolarz from the left circle.

Goals No. 6 and 7

Nov. 9: Bedard scored two goals and added two assists in a 5-3 upset win over the Lightning.

First goal: Phillipp Kurashev took a pass from Bedard from behind the net. Then he stickhandled in front of and walked up on the net. He made a beautiful backhand dish to Bedard, who tapped it in.

Second goal: Bedard’s second goal gave the Hawks a 4-2 lead and completely swung momentum in the Hawks’ favor. Bedard sneaked up behind Nikita Kucherov in the neutral zone and snatched the puck from him, then in a flash he and Nick Foligno had Erik Černák caught in a 2-on-1 with Anthony Cirelli in hot pursuit.

Foligno slid the puck to Bedard, who went forehand-backhand as he crossed the crease and left Cirelli and Jonas Johansson in a heap.

Bedard said it would’ve been great if he got the third goal: “You always want to score when you’re out there, but I wasn’t trying to force anything.”

Goals No. 8 and 9

Nov. 12: One thing became clear from the Blackhawks’ 4-3 loss to the Panthers: not only can Bedard help a team win, he can mask when a team should be losing badly.

The Panthers opened the scoring 39 seconds into the game. Later, the Hawks penalty kill gave up two goals.

Bedard landed a couple of quick strikes to give the Hawks a puncher’s chance.

First goal: He scored with 59 seconds left in the first period to tie the game 2-2.

Second goal: Bedard answered Sam Reinhart’s goal a minute and 18 seconds later to tie it again, 3-3 in the second period.

For the second consecutive game, Bedard flirted with a hat trick. But the Hawks couldn’t muster a response to Carter Verhaeghe’s power-play goal that secured Florida’s 4-3 win at Amerant Bank Arena.

Goal No. 10

Nov. 22: Bedard scored his 10th goal of the season in the Hawks’ 7-3 loss to the Blue Jackets.

Coach Luke Richardson said of Bedard’s twisting snap shot, “That’s how he scores goals. I’d like to see him maybe shoot that puck like that on the power play a little bit more.”

Bedard won the NHL’s rookie of the month award for November. He posted six goals and six assists in 12 games, registering at least a point in eight of them.

Goal No. 11

Dec. 2: Bedard scored the opening goal of the game against the Winnipeg Jets, extending his road point streak to eight games and setting a Hawks rookie record, previously held by Darryl Sutter from Dec. 11, 1980-Jan. 17, 1981.

Bedard also became one of nine rookies in the last 20 years to run up a road point streak of at least eight games, including the record holder.

Jets defenseman Dylan Samberg retrieved the puck from behind the Jets net and tried to break it out again. But Bedard intercepted the puck, spun between defenders and backhanded a pass down the slot to Kurashev.

Kurashev fired, but the shot bounced off Declan Chisholm’s skate to Bedard, who one-timed it past Connor Hellebuyck.

The Hawks had several close-but-no-cigar moments the rest of the game. The Jets simply outmatched the visitors in a 3-1 Hawks loss at Canada Life Centre.

Goal No. 12

Dec. 12: Bedard scored with a mesmerizing shot over Edmonton Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner’s shoulder three minutes into the game.

Alex Vlasic sat on the puck in the defensive zone, waiting for a pass lane to develop. Kurashev skated the neutral zone from the left wall (Vlasic’s side) toward the bench, carrying Connor McDavid with him and out of that area.

As Kurashev skated toward the bench, Bedard skated down the offensive blue line in the opposite direction. The result: Vlasic had a wide-open gap to hit Bedard with a stretch pass.

Bedard turned on a dime and roofed a goal under Mattias Ekholm’s stick.

It was the fifth time Bedard scored the game’s opening goal, tied for first in the NHL with JJ Peterka and Sidney Crosby. The Oilers won 4-1.

Goal No. 13

Dec. 23: Michigan goal.

Bedard set the NHL on edge when he scooped in a lacrosse-style goal against the host St. Louis Blues.

He just casually lifted the puck in the curve of his blade, scooted around the back of the net and scooped it in over Blues goalie Jordan Binnington’s shoulder, like it’s a thing.

Mind you, he started from a standing position and executed it all in one fluid motion.

He tried the maneuver last year while playing for Canada but couldn’t pull it off.

It’s called a “Michigan goal” because the Wolverines’ Mike Legg famously scored the lacrosse-style goal during an NCAA regional semifinal against Minnesota on March 24, 1996.

But the Blackhawks being the Blackhawks, they allowed five unanswered goals in a 7-5 collapse, their sixth loss in seven games.

Goals No. 14 and 15

Dec. 27: Bedard was working overtime in more ways than one during the Blackhawks’ 2-1 overtime win over the Jets at the United Center.

First goal: He scrapped and clawed in front of the net and opened the game with his first “garbage” goal. He was gapping up and checking Jets offensive defenseman Josh Morrissey and otherwise handling his business in the defensive zone.

Bedard scored the opening goal of the game for the sixth time this season, for all the good that does the Hawks. They had not converted the early gift into a win — until this game.

Second goal: And most impressively, Bedard gunned the overtime game-winner — his first — against Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck.

Sources: Tribune reporting; NHL