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Columbus Blue Jackets lose out on Connor Bedard sweepstakes, will pick third in NHL Draft

 Columbus Blue Jackets fans watch an ESPN broadcast of the NHL Draft Lottery at Columbus Brewing Company on May 8, 2023.
George Shillcock
Columbus Blue Jackets fans watch an ESPN broadcast of the NHL Draft Lottery at Columbus Brewing Company on May 8, 2023.

The Columbus Blue Jackets will have the third overall pick in the upcoming NHL Draft after losing out on sweepstakes for the top pick on Monday.

An audible groan erupted from the crowd at Columbus Brewing Company's Beer Hall watch party Monday evening the moment the third overall pick was chosen by lottery. In losing out on the first pick, the CBJ also lost their best chance at landing generational hockey talent Connor Bedard.

James Datz was one of the hundreds of fans at the brewery and said he was disappointed by the result and wasn't happy Chicago got the top pick shortly after losing talented right winger Patrick Kane in a trade to the New York Rangers.

"I mean I'm happy we have a top three pick, but you obviously have hope for the number one pick," Datz said.

Monday night's lottery determined the order of the first 16 picks in the draft.

The Chicago Blackhawks will pick first and the Anaheim Ducks will pick second ahead of CBJ. The draft starts June 28.

The Blue Jackets had a 13.5% chance of getting the top pick, only behind Anaheim in the odds.

Fans like Datz sported their best CBJ sweaters and gear to watch the lottery. Some even made makeshift Connor Bedard jerseys in hopes of witnessing a magic moment for their team. A couple people hoping to get on TV if ESPN streamed from their camera in Columbus held up cut-out photos of Bedard's head.

Bedard, a 17-year-old captain of the Regina Pats in Canada, is regarded as the top player in the upcoming draft and likely will be picked by the first team to go.

After a disappointing season where CBJ ended with the second-worst record, a player like Bedard could have provided the team and its fans hope for the future.

Despite an unlucky night some fans like Charlie Barton still are excited for next season. Barton said he trusts the judgment of CBJ General Manager Jarmo Kekäläinen to right the ship.

"We know he's going to make things right. He'll put his mind to things immediately and get things going right away," Barton said.

George Shillcock is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News. He joined the WOSU newsroom in April 2023 following three years as a reporter in Iowa with the USA Today Network.