NHL Rookie Connor Bedard Makes Instant Impact
The NHL season began this week, and hockey fans are excited for the beginning of the career of first overall pick Connor Bedard. The 18-year-old Chicago Blackhawk made his NHL debut on Tuesday, and the average of 1.42 million viewers made it the most-watched regular season game on cable, not counting the Winter Classic games. It also represented a 92% increase over last season’s opening game between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning.
The Blackhawks began the season on the road against the Pittsburgh Penguins, and Bedard recorded his first career assist in the 4-2 win. The next night, the Blackhawks visited the Boston Bruins, and Bedard scored his first career goal. Phil Espositio, with 717 career goals, was on hand to celebrate the Bruins’ 100th season of hockey. Esposito began his career in Chicago, but his two Stanley Cups were won when he was a Bruin.
Bedard said of his first goal, “It’s a big relief. You want to get one really bad, quick, and kind of get that out of the way. But it was a really cool moment and a cool building to do it in.”
With the goal, Bedard became the first 18-year-old No. 1 overall pick to record points in his first two career games since Nathan MacKinnon in 2013.
First Home Game October 21
The schedule has the Blackhawks on the road for the first five games of the season, finishing this road trip against MacKinnon and the Colorado Avalanche on October 19. Then on Saturday the 21st, with the Vegas Golden Knights in town, Bedard will make his home debut.
When Chicago won the draft lottery and won the right to draft Bedard, Blackhawks fans got out their wallets. In the first 12 hours after the lottery win, the Blackhawks sold $5.3 million worth of season ticket packages. And on the secondary market, the least expensive tickets available for Saturday’s game are going for $180 per ticket. If you want to be down by the ice, you’ll pay more than $2,500 for a ticket.
This is also the first full year of the FanDuel Sportsbook Lounge at the United Center, the partner sportsbook to the Blackhawks and Chicago Bulls. NHL betting is expected to increase significantly this year, as Illinois continues to expand its number of online and retail sports betting.
Bedard’s economic impact also involves merchandise sales. All Blackhawks merchandise sales have doubled over last season, and his jersey is the current number one seller in the league. His jersey has been at No. 1 since he was drafted on June 28. Bedard’s childhood idol is Sydney Crosby, who has the fourth-best selling jersey.
Because of Bedard and the NHL’s relationship with ESPN, the popular Pat McAfee Show has started a new daily segment called “Hockey is Awesome.” The topic of the first day – Connor Bedard.
Odds to Win Calder Memorial Trophy (Best First-Year Player)
Connor Bedard (-190)
Logan Cooley (+810)
Luke Hughes (+910)
Adam Fantilli (+1425)
Devon Levi (+1425)
To no one’s surprise, MyBookie.ag has Bedard as the heavy favorite to win the Calder Memorial Trophy, given annually to the best first-year player in the NHL. Past winners of the award include Mario Lemieux, Pavel Bure, Peter Forsberg, and last season’s winner, Moritz Seider of the Detroit Red Wings.
Logan Cooley was the third overall pick, going to the Arizona Coyotes, and he is the closest to Bedard on the odds board. Luke Hughes of the New Jersey Devils is just behind him.