CHICAGO, ILLINOIS - DECEMBER 27: Connor Bedard #98 of the Chicago Blackhawks shoots and scores the game winning goal during overtime against the Winnipeg Jets at the United Center on December 27, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

In Chicago, Connor Bedard stands alone on an island. The 18-year-old sensation has 11 goals and 20 points in 24 games, an impressive feat considering the desolation around him. The rest of the Blackhawks’ roster is in shambles, exacerbated by a season-ending injury to would-be sidekick Taylor Hall (who managed just 10 games). Despite this, Bedard’s offensive prowess shines through.

The Blackhawks leak goals and chances even when their best player, Bedard, is on the ice. His offensive edge seems nullified by the team’s overall struggles. Some of this falls on Bedard himself; it’s rare for a teenager to burst onto the scene with above-average defensive skills. But the environment around him also plays a role. Extreme usage—uncommon even for seasoned players—puts Bedard in a precarious position.

Bedard’s most common forward linemate is Philipp Kurashev, who entered the season as a fourth-line caliber player (if that). Kurashev has been stapled to Bedard for 66 percent of the rookie’s five-on-five minutes. On average, the sidekick to a No. 1 pick has a projected Offensive Rating of plus-5.5 and a Defensive Rating of minus-1.1. Kurashev falls well below that, grading out as the worst sidekick since at least 2010. His Offensive Rating was projected to be even worse, but increased minutes have skewed his current performance.

Averaging the projected ratings of everyone Bedard plays with reveals that his teammate’s average Offensive Rating is minus-1.4. Bedard’s remarkable performance as the youngest All-Star in NHL history highlights his exceptional talent and impact on the league, especially considering the challenges the Blackhawks face with injuries to key players.

Bedard’s offensive threat continues to grow. Fans yearn for his hat trick moments, and he remains a catalyst for the Blackhawks’ offense. Unfortunately, a recent injury—a broken jaw—has temporarily paused the No. 1 pick’s stellar run.

In summary, Connor Bedard’s offensive impact transcends the chaos around him. As he navigates the treacherous waters of the NHL, his talent shines bright, even when the odds are stacked against him. 

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