NASHVILLE — Connor Bedard arrived to great fanfare in the Music City for the NHL Entry Draft. And on Wednesday, he donned the No. 98 Blackhawks sweater for the first time upon arriving on the Bridgestone Arena stage as the top overall pick.
Even with the uber-talented Bedard on board, Chicago’s rebuilding stage will continue. But the former Regina (WHL) superstar will have a pair of reliable veterans to lean on to guide him through his rookie season.
Roughly 48 hours before Bedard’s selection, the Blackhawks acquired Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno from the cap-strapped Boston Bruins in exchange for defensemen Ian Mitchell and Alec Regula.
Within minutes of his introductory press conference, Bedard addressed the Hall and Foligno acquisition. As a young 18-year-old who will transition directly to adulthood in the fall, Bedard couldn’t have asked for a better pair of veterans to lean on.
“I think it’s really special,” Bedard said on sharing the same locker room as Hall and Foligno. “Those two guys have been through everything in the National Hockey League. So for me to learn from them — and they’re unbelievable players — and ask questions to is awesome. They’re going to help us win a lot of games.”
Foligno signed a one-year, $4 million contract with Chicago on Tuesday. Whether he remains a Blackhawk beyond the upcoming season is anyone’s guess. But his leadership and his gritty skillset will only benefit the young Blackhawks as they look to ease their transition from Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane era.
The Blackhawks likely envision Hall as a pivotal cog for at least the next two seasons. The former Bruin has two years remaining on his contract with a $6 million annual cap hit.
Hall, the 2010 top overall pick, could find himself as one of Bedard’s linemates when the Blackhawks open their season in Pittsburgh against Sidney Crosby, the 2005 No. 1 selection, and the Penguins on Oct. 10.
Chicago will have a quick turnaround for the second game of the Bedard era the following night when Hall and Foligno return to face their former team during Boston’s season opener on Oct. 11.
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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