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Move over Connor McDavid, there’s another star hockey player named Connor on the way.
At just 15 years old, Connor Bedard is considered one of the top prospects eligible for the 2023 NHL Draft after a head-turning 2020-21 season in the Western Hockey League. The North Vancouver native averaged 1.87 points per game in his rookie season, a scoring rate higher than McDavid and John Tavares had during their first seasons at the same age.
Bedard became the first WHL player ever to be granted exceptional status to play major-junior hockey at 15. He joined the likes of McDavid, Tavares and Aaron Ekblad as just the seventh player in Canadian Hockey League history to receive the distinction.
In a pandemic-shortened season with the Regina Pats, a team Islanders head coach Barry Trotz used to play for, Bedard recorded 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in a mere 15 games. Bedard recorded at least one point in all but one game, including two four-point efforts.
“That’s hard to say because I didn’t know too much going into the league,” Bedard told the Regina Leader Post when asked if he was surprised by his early success. “I had no expectations for myself and what goals to set. I think I surprised myself a little, just points-wise. I felt pretty comfortable out there, which is a good feeling.”
In the Pats’ season-finale against the Brandon Wheat Kings earlier this month, Bedard scored twice, one of which was the game-winner 49 seconds into overtime, just a couple days after learning his grandfather had passed away. He returned home the following weekend to be with his family.
Bedard is expected to join Canada’s roster for the world under-18 hockey championship on April 27 against Sweden in Texas.
“I’d probably be more excited before the (Brandon) game, but it is a dream come true,” Bedard told reporters at the beginning of this month. “As a Canadian kid you grow up with that dream of getting to wear the maple leaf. When I found out, I was over the moon excited. I’m super grateful that they’re going to give me that opportunity. I’m obviously going to try to make the most of it.”
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