The Chicago Blackhawks will begin their slate of preseason games on Thursday night against the St. Louis Blues. This game will give us the first glimpse of this Chicago squad without Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. And it'll give us our first glimpse of the player tabbed with replacing them, Connor Bedard.

Bedard has been busy since hearing his name called back in late June. He competed in a prospect tournament and two scrimmages in addition to the Blackhawks' training camp. But while it won't quite match the intensity of the regular season, Thursday's game is Bedard's first look at NHL game action.

“Yeah, I can’t wait,” the 18-year-old center said, via “I think I’ve said this the whole time: I just want to play hockey. That’s what you want. You train so hard throughout the summer and every day, which is great, and you want to see where that gets you in the game.”

Bedard is set to debut as Chicago's top line center on Thursday. He will skate on a line with former first-overall pick Taylor Hall and Ryan Donato. It's a line that head coach Luke Richardson is excited about. Especially given the early signs of chemistry between Bedard and Hall.

“He’s a special player and he’s been doing it in the League for a long time now. Just trying to read off him and take advice from him, watch him play and I can learn a lot of things,” Bedard said of Hall on Wednesday, via

Bedard is expected to make the NHL roster without returning to junior hockey this season. If that's the case, the 18-year-old phenom will make his regular-season debut on October 10 against Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins.