The probable 1st round draft pick will become a NHL superstar when entering the league
Connor Bedard — captain of the 2022 U18 Team Canada — is favored to be the 1st draft pick in the 2023 NHL draft.
Bedard is a North Vancouver-born centerman that has already achieved great heights in the game. Once he enters the league, he is expected to use his finesse, precise edging and crazy cutshots to help a team succeed in the NHL.
After being selected to Team Canada, Bedard’s name was put out internationally along with his skill. In late December of 2021, Connor Bedard was playing a game with Team Canada U20 against Austria in which he scored 4 goals in the 11-2 final. He is the first 16-year-old to have scored a hat trick in this event since Wayne Gretzky in 1977. The event features mostly players at least four years older than him, including many NHL players such as Owen Power and David Pastrnak. Bedard was the 7th ever 16-year-old to be selected to play in the national men’s team.
The comparisons with Wayne Gretzky set up big expectations for the young player. “It’s definitely cool hearing your name and one of, if not the greatest, to ever play,” Bedard said. “It’s one game and I don’t think I’ll be getting 2,800 points in the NHL.”
Later, Connor Bedard was named captain of the U18 national team, playing for Canada the second time. Bedard led his team to victory using his experience and intuitive skills. He scored three goals in their 8-1 game against Sweden in the semifinals, as well as a goal in their 5-3 game in the final gold medal game against Russia. He tied for second in the most points in the tournament, with his seven goals and seven assists in seven games.
Throughout his youth he played for youth elite teams and played a fairly above-average game. However in the 2018-2019 season, when he was 15, his play suddenly started to stick out. Playing with the West Van Academy, Bedard racked up 64 goals and 24 assists in only 33 games. During next season, he proved that it wasn’t a fluke, notching 84 points in 36 games. After this, his life changed.
Bedard was drafted 1st overall by the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League (WHL) in 2020. In his first 15 games with them, Bedard achieved 12 goals and 16 assists. In his second season, Bedard had 100 points in 62 games, and became the youngest player in WHL history to achieve 50 goals in a season. The league named him East-Division Player Of the Year.
“We watch him play hockey,” says head coach of the Pats, Dave Strutch, on Connor Bedard in his first season, “We know he’s got hockey IQ, natural instincts and natural talent, but we see the stuff he does away from the game that nobody sees. The way he practices, the way he warms up, the way he cools down, the way he carries himself, and the maturity, nobody really knows how he carries himself and it’s already pro level.”
“So when the puck drops, that’s the bonus for all of us,” Strutch explained. “If I take myself outside of being a coach and a hockey fan, we watch what he does in the game but what he does outside the game is really the special thing because at 15 years old, you would never see guys do what he does.”
With his impressive achievements in the past two years, Connor Bedard is showing as much promise as Sidney Crozby and Connor McDavid did.
Bedard may have said that he isn’t going to get 2,800 career points in the NHL, but he could very well break some records.
All over Twitter, there are fans of teams in the running to get first draft pick who are hoping that Connor Bedard can save their clubs. Even the team Twitter accounts for the Philadelphia Flyers and the Chicago Blackhawks have tweeted things like, “Only Bedard can save us now.”
Those who know Bedard are confident he can live up to expectations.
“His mental toughness is insane,” former coach Steve Marr said, talking about Bedard and his advancements to the nationals.
“That’s a big thing for a player with superstar-caliber skill. From here on out, the expectations are only going to be greater so you have to have that between the ears. There’s no doubt in my mind Connor has that.”
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