NHL Sour Rankings: Bedard’s Fit Among the NHL’s Bottom Feeders

NHL Sour Rankings: Bedard’s Fit Among the NHL’s Bottom Feeders

How could Connor Bedard fit into each roster of the NHL’s current worst teams?

Bob Frid/CHL

The “bottom of the barrel” in the NHL is beginning to settle in as teams approach the trade deadline and buyers and sellers begin to establish themselves. Teams like Chicago and Arizona have been in tank mode since the beginning of the year, while others, such as Vancouver and Ottawa, are coming to terms with their reality.

Connor Bedard is the obvious prize of this year’s draft class, with Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson and others coming in as outstanding consolation prizes. The 2023 NHL draft has emerged as one of the more talented groups in recent memory.

The sour rankings have often looked at the teams near the bottom of the standings and asked, “why are they here?” But this iteration of the series will take a look ahead. How will the next possible generational talent fit in with the bottom feeders? Let’s take a look.

Columbus Blue Jackets (15-30-3, 33 points)

The Blue Jackets signed Johnny Gaudreau in the summer, and although he’s been about as advertised so far in Columbus, the team has taken a massive step back and sits at the bottom of the standings.

With Gustav Nyquist coming off the books this summer and plentiful young talent ready to emerge, Connor Bedard could fit perfectly into the team’s top six and almost immediately assert himself as the Blue Jackets’ best offensive player and No. 1 center.

The center depth on the Columbus roster has been a glaring need for a few years, and Bedard could solidify it. His dual-threat offensive game, pairing his elite-level shot with slick passing ability, could fit in well with Gaudreau and Patrik Laine, the only two players making more than $5.5 million annually on the active roster.

Jack Roslovic and Cole Sillinger could compete for the second-line center gig, with one shifting to the wing if both excel. That would leave captain Boone Jenner to slot in on the third line, which improves the team by pushing everyone down into more suitable roles.

Projected Top Six with Connor Bedard

Johnny Gaudreau – Connor Bedard – Patrik Laine

Boone Jenner – Jack Roslovic/Cole Sillinger – Kent Johnson

Chicago Blackhawks (15-28-4, 34 points)

Chicago has been openly tanking since the beginning of the season, and they have done a masterful job of it thus far. They’ve been brutal in all aspects of the game, and because of that, this could be the most puzzling spot to project a lineup for next season should they win the Bedard lottery. The only players currently in their top six signed for next season are Taylor Raddysh and Jason Dickinson.

Longtime franchise cornerstones Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, the last remaining ties to the Stanley Cup teams, are both in trade rumors. One or both will likely be off the roster next season.

Bedard would step onto this roster and easily become the team’s most electric player unless Kane returns, which is unlikely. Even if that happens, it likely wouldn’t be long until Bedard took over and made this his team.

Projected Top Six with Connor Bedard

Tyler Johnson – Connor Bedard – Taylor Raddysh

Lukas Reichel – Jonathan Toews* – Free Agent Signing


Anaheim Ducks (15-29-5, 35 points)

On the flip side of the complete unpredictability of the Chicago projection, Anaheim has a number of exciting options for Bedard to slot in beside. The Ducks have some of the most exciting young players in the NHL, with Trevor Zegras, Troy Terry and Mason McTavish emerging as the backbone of a very promising forward core. The Ducks have some exciting young defenders in the pipeline as well.

Bedard starting on the wing could make a lot of sense depending on who the Ducks would want him playing with. A transition to center mid-season or in his second season could be possible if they don’t slot him in the middle immediately. Bedard has played with McTavish to a high degree of success in the past while representing Canada, and the instant chemistry would be a major asset. The Ducks are one of the most enticing options.

Projected Top Six with Connor Bedard

Max Comtois – Trevor Zegras – Troy Terry

Adam Henrique – Mason McTavish – Connor Bedard

Arizona Coyotes (16-28-5, 37 points)

The Arizona Coyotes are an interesting group. They have some very good young pieces, and they have some prospects on the way.

But they also have so much working against them. They’ve been spinning their tires for years and still seem to lack some direction. Another oddity is it would be a bit underwhelming if Bedard plays home games in a college arena that sits about 5,000 fans at capacity – although he seems comfortable in smaller arenas considering his WHL stats in the 6,000-seat Brandt Centre in Regina, Sask.

There are pieces to build with regarding roster construction, though. Clayton Keller emerged as a strong top-six winger. Mattias Maccelli was making a case as one of the league’s best rookies before injury struck. Dylan Guenther is a promising young player who has played on teams with Bedard in the past. Logan Cooley is coming from the NCAA shortly as well. Bedard would elevate this group in a big way, though.

Projected Top Six with Connor Bedard

Clayton Keller – Connor Bedard – Dylan Guenther

Lawson Crouse – Barrett Hayton/Logan Cooley* – Nick Schmaltz

*if signed to his ELC

San Jose Sharks (14-25-10, 38 points)

The Sharks embraced the impotence of their roster, and they look poised to continue moving in the direction of a true rebuild. The rumors of the Sharks wanting to move out Erik Karlsson amid his return to form and Timo Meier in an effort to ensure cap flexibility moving forward have swirled all year, and one or both could be gone over a month from now. The problem is many large contracts will still be around for a while.

Logan Couture and Tomas Hertl are currently the team’s top two centers, with both signed for a long time. This could mean Bedard starts on the wing before moving to the middle as he gets comfortable in the NHL. William Eklund, Filip Bystedt and Thomas Bordeleau are on the way as well from the team’s prospect pool.

Projected Top Six with Connor Bedard

Kevin Labanc – Tomas Hertl – Connor Bedard

William Eklund – Logan Couture – Alexander Barabanov

Vancouver Canucks (19-26-3, 41 points)

If Vancouver drafted the hometown kid who grew up rooting for the Canucks, it would do wonders for rehabilitating the team’s image in what has been a troubling few years. The Canucks have been in turmoil for years now, and the recent Bruce Boudreau-Rick Tocchet coaching saga was the breaking point for many fans.

The team isn’t lacking talent. They have some incredible players in their early to mid-20s, and they should get some major assets when they sell off key pieces at the trade deadline and in the summer. 

Captain Bo Horvat looks to be heading out of the door, and there could be a few teammates joining him. The core remains Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko, but how much do they have left in them to deal with the constant headache that Vancouver has become?

Projected Top Six with Connor Bedard

Ilya Mikheyev – Elias Pettersson – Brock Boeser

J.T. Miller – Connor Bedard – Vasili Podkolzin

Montreal Canadiens (20-25-4, 44 points)

Technically speaking, the Habs have multiple shots at Bedard with their own pick and the Florida Panthers’ pick from the Ben Chiarot trade last season. Florida would have to tumble down the standings a bit, but based on points percentage, their pick will be eligible to move up and win the Bedard sweepstakes. Imagine acquiring a couple of months of Ben Chiarot in exchange for a decade-plus of Connor Bedard.

Montreal would be a very interesting landing spot for Bedard. They are loading up their prospect pool, and their cupboard of draft picks continues to swell. They have good young players led by captain Nick Suzuki and Cole Caufield, bolstered by last year’s first overall pick in Juraj Slafkovsky and Kirby Dach. That’s not even to mention the emerging young talent on the blueline. Inserting Bedard would put this squad over the top and make them dangerous for years to come.

Projected Top Six with Connor Bedard

Josh Anderson – Nick Suzuki – Cole Caufield

Kirby Dach – Connor Bedard – Juraj Slafkovsky

Ottawa Senators (21-23-3, 45 points)

The hottest team in the summer had so many pundits predicting them making the playoffs. But the Senators are back where they’ve been for the last few years – the draft lottery conversation. They’ve built up quite the forward group and have great young talent in Tim Stutzle, Brady Tkachuk, Josh Norris and Drake Batherson. They made a splash at last year’s draft by acquiring Alex DeBrincat in one of the best moves of the summer before signing Claude Giroux to round out their top-six forward group.

Unfortunately, that wasn’t enough, and the Sens still have underwhelming goaltending and a blueline that is among the bottom third in the league. Connor Bedard won’t fix either of those issues, but he could push a great forward like Claude Giroux down to the third line to pair with Shane Pinto and Ridly Greig, giving the Sens one of the best top-nine groups in the NHL. Some smart free-agent signings and trades in the off-season could have the Senators take the step we expected them to take next year.

Projected Top Six with Connor Bedard

Brady Tkachuk – Tim Stutzle – Drake Batherson

Alex DeBrincat* – Josh Norris – Connor Bedard


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