Blackhawks '22-23 season ends at the best-case scenario

Even if it still doesn't seem real.

Blackhawks '22-23 season ends at the best-case scenario
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Exactly four months ago, the idea of the best-case scenario was explored here, using the Bears as an example of a team arriving at its best-case scenario for those specific circumstances at the end of a 3-14 NFL season.

Then, on Monday night, after a miserable 26-49-7 season, the Chicago Blackhawks became the latest team in the Windy City to arrive at its best-case scenario.

That's what this all is: having the Blackhawks win the draft lottery to obtain the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft is the best-case scenario for this team's current situation.

Ever since the trades of Alex DeBrincat and Kirby Dach last summer, this was the obvious hope of the Blackhawks' front office, that its next superstar was going to arrive at the top of the NHL Draft in June. Adam Fantilli in the No. 2 pick would've been a solid consolation prize. Any of the players at No. 3, No. 4 or No. 5 also could've been future franchise fixtures. But Bedard has been in a class all his own for a few years now and the impact was immediate.

Since winning that Stanley Cup in 2015, about the only time the Blackhawks have dominated headlines in and outside of Chicago is for all of the wrong reasons. On Monday night, though, the Blackhawks were the sports story in the city once again. Ticket sales have since spiked. The Cubs put the news up on the video screen at Wrigley and White Sox fans in Kansas City burst into celebration.

The Blackhawks are relevant again and, this time, it's because something good happened.

No, Connor Bedard is not a cure for everything currently ailing the Blackhawks' on the ice, as Defector put it in a Monday article. And, as discussed around these parts about one year ago, he cannot do all of this alone. But the Blackhawks needed something this drastic to reverse the downward trajectory. There's a much more tangible reason to feel good about this hockey team again for the first time in a span that's felt like an interminable slog. The approaching light at the end of the tunnel wasn't a train barreling in the opposite direction after all.

We've always wondered what the next "core" was going to look like, which players were going to form the nucleus of talent which would carry the Blackhawks into this newly opened chapter of the franchise. Yeah, there are some other pieces like Lukas Reichel in Rockford and Kevin Korchinski up in Seattle who are starting to look like guys who could be part of that group.

Bedard is already part of that group. Full stop. He's still 17 years old and still hasn't officially been drafted by the Blackhawks and it's not hyperbolic to suggest that he'd already be the best player on the team when it happens. It seems insane, doesn't it? But after checking some highlights and flipping through scouting reports that thought moves closer and closer to sanity.

This all seems insane, but the idea of the Blackhawks landing the No. 1 overall pick felt insane just 12 hours ago based on what the odds suggested.

Just imagine what thoughts could feel insane in a few years – right before they become reality, too.