NASHVILLE — There was absolutely no doubt who would be the top pick of the 2023 NHL Draft on Wednesday night and the Chicago Blackhawks had a brand new No. 98 jersey ready for Connor Bedard to slip into.
Those jerseys have been spotted all over Nashville.
Bedard was greeted with a rousing cheer from all the Chicago fans in the building on Wednesday night and he appreciates them.
“It’s kind of hard to describe and put into words but it’s a great feeling,’’ Bedard said.
While Bedard’s selection was no surprise, the fact there were no trades made in the opening round was.
There should be plenty of those today when the final six rounds are held starting at 11 a.m.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW
— There are a lot of rumors swirling around the Panthers right now. Here’s what we’re hearing when it comes to potential trades and free agency.
— That includes Anthony Duclair.
— Bill Zito ended up finishing third in voting for the Jim Gregory GM of the Year Award.
— The Panthers schedule is out.
— Matthew Tkachuk ended up finishing third in the PHWA votingfor the Hart Memorial Trophy. Edmonton’s Connor McDavid came in first with Boston’s David Pastrnak placing second. For the second consecutive season — but first with the Panthers — Tkachuk was named All-NHL second team.
— Anton Lundell was impressive in this playoff run for the Florida Panthers and that can only bode well for the future.
— Duclair is paying it back here in South Florida with a youth hockey camp in Coral Springs.
— The Florida Panthers announced their preseason schedule. It looks pretty familiar.
NATIONAL HOCKEY NOW
There was a trade before the first round started as the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Reilly Smith from the Golden Knights for a third-round pick.
Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said acquiring Smith does not mean that Jason Zucker is gone but, yeah, it sort of does.
— The Philadelphia Flyers took the biggest swing in the draft, selecting Matvei Michkov with the No. 7 overall pick.
— The Chicago Blackhawks were not done with Bedard as Oliver Moore joined him at No. 19.
— Could Milan Lucic be returning to the Boston Bruins.
— The Buffalo Sabres went with a familiar face with Zach Benson in the first round.
— With Smith off to the Penguins, the Vegas Golden Knights were able to extend Ivan Barbashev.
— The Montreal Canadiens played it safe with the fifth overall pick.
— The newest member of the Detroit Red Wings took the long way to Nashville.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
- Today: NHL Draft, Nashville (Florida has picks in Rounds 2, 4, 5, 6 & 7); Nashville, 11 a.m. (NHL Network)
- Friday: Buyout period ends
- Saturday: Free agency opens, noon
- Mid-September: Training Camp, South Florida
- Sept. 25: Preseason starts, doubleheader v. Nashville @ Sunrise
- Oct. 7: Preseason ends, vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
- Mid-October: Start of 2023-24 Regular Season