Conor Bedard is one of the most highly touted prospects in the hockey world. Playing in the WHL for the Regina Pats, Bedard showcased an exceptional blend of skill, vision, and hockey IQ from a very young age.
He became the first player in WHL history to be granted exceptional status, allowing him to play in the league at just 15 years old. This status is only granted to players who are deemed capable of playing major junior hockey a year early due to their exceptional talents.
Many analysts and hockey experts believe Bedard has the potential to be in a similar class to some of the recent generational talents like Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby. Bedard is lauded for his poise under pressure, elite shot, and ability to make those around him better.
Path to the NHL
Bedard played two seasons at West Van Academy in the CSSHL, where he scored 107 goals in 66 games. Bedard also played briefly with HV71 in the Swedish junior league, scoring 3 goals in 5 games.
Canadian Major Junior Hockey
In 2020-2021, Bedard played his first games in the WHL with the Regina Pats. In 15 games he scored 12 goals and 28 points as a 15 year old, which is incredible.
Connor Bedard responds for Regina with his 44th goal of the season! pic.twitter.com/0xB3VknGmH
— TSN (@TSN_Sports) February 2, 2023
The next year, in his first full season, Bedard scored an astonishing 51 goals and 100 points in just 62 games. Again, almost unheard of for a 16 year old.
#WHL: C Connor Bedard (2023 draft) caps a four-goal night with the OT winner as Regina outlasted Moose Jaw 7-6. Bedard has seven goals and three assists in his last three games.pic.twitter.com/jXWK3ptLj4
— Steve Kournianos (@TheDraftAnalyst) January 2, 2022
In his 3rd year, his draft year, Bedard then increased his totals to score 71 goals and 143 points as a 17 year old. He continued his domination in the playoffs, where he scored 10 goals and 20 points in only 7 games.
Connor Bedard notches his 70th goal in 55 games for the Regina Pats this season.pic.twitter.com/5CK9WBJr0Z
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) March 20, 2023
He finished his WHL career scoring at a goal-a-game clip, with 134 goals in 134 games
World Junior Hockey Championships
Bedard played in both the WJC U18 and the WJC U20 tournaments, where his domination continued unabated.
Here’s a video of Connor Bedard scoring a highlight-reel overtime goal in the 2023 World Junior quarterfinals, then celebrating with Patrick Kane’s heartbreaker move.
Goodnight, Chicago. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/W36NTaNOZh
— Charlie Roumeliotis (@CRoumeliotis) May 9, 2023
During his two WJC U18 tournaments, Bedard scored 13 goals in 11 games, and added 21 points.
At the two WJC U20 tournaments where he played, Bedard scored 13 goals in 14 games and added 31 points, including 9 goals and 23 points in his final WJC U20.
Bedard's Play Style: An In-depth Analysis
The Makings of a Sniper - Wrist Shot: - Bedard’s wrist shot is a thing of beauty, showcasing both power and deception. It's considered elite, even by NHL standards. In addition, the techniques he employs, like the curl and drag shot, and the quick release off the rush make him exceedingly dangerous in the offensive zone. Bedard possesses a quick and accurate release, making him a constant threat in the offensive zone. Whether it's a wrist shot, snapshot, or one-timer, he can beat goaltenders from multiple angles.
Playmaking and Stickhandling Prowess - His hands are quick and soft, allowing him to maintain puck possession, deke opponents, and navigate through tight spaces effectively. Even under pressure, Bedard remains calm and collected, rarely making rash decisions or getting flustered on the ice. How he carves through defenses, creating opportunities. - His ability to maintain control under pressure and set up teammates.
On-Ice Vision and Execution - Bedard consistently demonstrates an exceptional understanding of the game, reading plays multiple steps ahead of his opponents. His ability to spot teammates, anticipate plays, and find passing lanes that aren't immediately obvious sets him apart from many of his peers. The clairvoyance with which he plays, anticipating and orchestrating plays ahead of time. - His knack for recognizing and exploiting spaces.
Skating and Transition Brilliance - While he may not have blistering speed, his agility and edgework make him incredibly elusive, allowing him to quickly accelerate, change directions, and keep defenders on their heels. Emphasis on his balance, edge work, and agility. - His prowess in navigating the neutral zone and transitioning from defense to offense.
Creativity and Elusiveness - Examples of his improvisation and moments of unscripted brilliance. - How he consistently evades opponents and remains unpredictable.
Areas of Improvement and Future Potential
Defensive Gameplay: - Like any young player, Bedard isn't without areas of improvement. His defensive play has occasionally come under scrutiny, leading to discussions about his long-term position.
Positional Analysis: - Will he be the NHL's next dominant center, or will he dazzle from the wing? Time will tell, but with his skill set, he's poised to excel wherever he's placed.
Competitive Fire: - Many reports highlight his dedication to improving his game, spending countless hours on and off the ice to hone his skills. His determination to win and constantly improve is evident in every game he plays.
Growth Over Seasons: - Despite his young age, Bedard shows maturity and a natural ability to lead by example and motivate his teammates. While not the biggest player on the ice, he's not afraid to engage in physical play and can hold his own against larger opponents.
Influence on the Team and the League: - How teams have adjusted or planned for him and the impact he has on the morale and performance of his own team.
Based upon our in-house framework for evaluating hockey prospects and their likelihood of being successful NHL players, we feel that Bedard is one of those rare hockey players who will match the hype.
For his rookie season, we feel that he could score 40-50 goals and manage 80 to 100 points.
Our projection of what a typical Connor Bedard NHL season will look like in about three years is that he will score around 60 goals each season (with him scoring 70 to 80 goals in at least one or more future seasons), and score around 120 to 140 points per season in his prime.
He has all the abilities to become an all-time great, Hall of Fame player.