By Neil Becker
Connor Bedard continues to show Canada why he is widely considered a generational talent.
Bedard, a highly skilled and much talked about 17-year-old forward for the Western Hockey League (WHL) Regina Pats, is in the middle of another dominating season and is regarded as the next big thing.
At this year's World Juniors, Bedard was the talk of the tournament as he dominated on the world stage and amazed Canadian hockey fans who were watching from coast-to-coast.
Bedard, who was looking to win back-to-back World Junior Gold, set numerous individual World Junior tournament records. He was named Tournament MVP and World Junior Championship Best Forward as he helped Canada win their second straight tournament gold medal, which this past year was held in Halifax at the Scotiabank Centre.
In showcasing his elite talents, Bedard wrote some World Junior Hockey Championship history as he led all scorers with nine goals and 23 points, including the 13 he earned last year, giving him the top spot for scoring among all Canadians who have ever participated.The original record, which was 31 points held by Hockey Hall of Famer Eric Lindros, was officially broken when Bedard opened the scoring on a breakaway goal during Quarterfinal play in a 4-3 overtime win against Slovakia.
Other Team Canada World Junior Championship tournament records now belonging to Bedard include the most assists (14) in a tournament, most points at a single World Junior tournament (23 points), and most goals (16) scored for Canada in a World Junior Tournament career.
"The minute Connor Bedard started in the Western Hockey League, and every minute thereafter, right up until last night, all he has done is dominate," Craig Button, TSN's Director of Scouting said. "He's obliterated everything. U18, World Junior, Western Hockey League. If Connor Bedard is to be doubted, every other single player in this draft deserves to be doubted to a far greater extent."
This hockey prodigy, who hails from North Vancouver and stands at 5'10" and 185 pounds, recently made more headlines and showed more reasons why he is considered the number-one pick for the upcoming 2023 NHL Draft. On Friday, February 17th, in a 6-5 loss against the Prince Albert Raiders, Bedard hit the 50-goal and 100-point plateaus.
Bedard has been on a serious run since the World Juniors, producing 23 goals and 36 points in 12 games. Currently, he leads the WHL in shots on goal and scoring with 51 goals and 103 points which puts him comfortably ahead of Winnipeg Ice forward Zachary Benson, who is second with 79 points.
While playing minor hockey in Vancouver with the West Vancouver Academy Prep, Bedard opened eyes with his eye-popping statistics and overall play. During the 2018-2019 season, while playing on the U-15 team, he simply dominated the CSSHL (Canadian Sport School Hockey League), producing 64 goals and 88 points in only 30 games. The following campaign, which saw him on the U-18 team, he scored 43 goals and 84 points in 36 games. Not surprisingly, Bedard was named MVP in both of those seasons.
Following that second season in the CSSHL, Bedard made WHL history and joined a small list of six players who were granted exceptional player status. In Bedard's case, because of his immense talent, he had been granted permission to get drafted and play a year earlier as a 15- year-old in the Western Hockey League.
He joined a privileged list which includes such names as John Tavares (2005, OHL), Aaron Ekblad (2011, OHL), Connor McDavid (2012, OHL), Sean Day (2013, OHL), Joe Veleno (2015, QMJHL), Shane Wright (2019, OHL). As you can see from the list, Bedard was the first to be granted exceptional status to the WHL.
Not surprisingly, Bedard was chosen 1st overall in the 2020 WHL draft by the Regina Pats.
"I am so honoured and excited to have the chance to be a part of a great organization like the Reginal Pats," Bedard told the Regina News.
During his rookie year, Bedard made a strong impression by scoring 12 goals and 28 points in 15 games on his way to winning the Piggott Memorial Trophy for WHL Rookie of the Year.
Bedard would make history the following year when in 2021-2022, he showed a flair for the dramatics by scoring in his final regular season game his 50th and 51st goals to become the youngest to hit the 50-goal plateau. He would finish with an even 100 points.
This season, Bedard strung together a 35-game point streak and, most recently, on February 22nd, posted an incredible six points (1 goal, 5 assists) in a 6-3 win against the Medicine Hat Tigers.
Make no mistake, this can't miss prospect who has gotten the hockey world buzzing will be the latest superstar to amaze at the NHL level.