The start of the most recent NHL season unofficially marked the beginning of one of the biggest storylines of the impending offseason, as it wasn’t a stretch to suggest teams that weren’t serious contenders for the Stanley Cup had some incentive to tank in the hopes of landing the generational talent who is Connor Bedard.
When everything was said and done, 11 of the league’s franchises were in the running to secure the top overall pick that would give them the right to draft the phenom who’s made quite a name for himself in the WHL and as a member of Canada’s junior national team.
The Ducks were the odds-on favorite to walk away with that pick when the NHL Draft Lottery was held on Monday night with an 18.5% chance, followed by the Blue Jackets (13.5%) and the Blackhawks (11.5%).
When everything was said and done, Chicago managed to pull off the minor upset after Columbus earned the bronze and Anaheim received the silver, which means Connor Bedard will be heading to the Windy City next season barring some truly unpredictable twist.
The Blackhawks wasted no time cashing in on their new asset thanks to the insane amount of season tickets the franchise was able to move after officially securing the No. 1 spot, although plenty of fans asserted they shouldn’t have even been in contention due to the team’s role in a sexual assault scandal it was accused of covering up.
It’s pretty obvious the NHL is pleased Bedard will be playing for an Original Six team located in the fairly lucrative Chicago market, although that very convenient development also led to a number of conspiracy theorists alleging the draft lottery was rigged in their favor.
Based on what Elliotte Friedman had to say on a recent episode of the 32 Thoughts podcast, those allegations aren’t limited to anonymous Twitter users who threw on a tinfoil hat after the lottery came to an end, as the insider asserted there are also a number of anonymous figures around the league who’ve echoed the same sentiment, saying:
“I was shocked. I can’t tell you how many people around the league who I consider to be very smart people were convinced that it was rigged.
I know people go on the internet and they’re all mad. They’re like, ‘RIGGED! RIGGED! THIS WAS FIXED!’ Fans are fans. I don’t really have any problem with that. People react very emotionally.
But people in the league—like on teams and stuff—were like, ‘This is rigged.’ I’m like, ‘Guys, come on.'”
At the end of the day, it’s hard to imagine the NHL actually rigged the draft lottery in Chicago’s favor, but the truth has never stopped a good conspiracy theory from catching on.