April 18, 2022

Bedard authors one of the best 16-year-old seasons in WHL history

There’s no fancy pun as it pertains to tanking teams trying to pluck Connor Bedard in the 2023 NHL Draft. 

But don’t worry. It’s coming. 

And with good reason. 

Powered by a five-point performance on Sunday, phenom of the Regina Pats in the Western Hockey League put an exclamation point on one of the best 16-year-old seasons in history.

Bedard, the first and only player ever granted exceptional status to play in the WHL as a 15-year-old, used a two-goal performance to push himself to 51 through 62 games in the now-completed regular season, making the North Vancouver, BC product the youngest — at 16 years, nine months, and one day — to ever score 50 goals in a single WHL season. 

His total more than edged the previous record of 17-year-old Glen Goodall of the Seattle Thunderbirds in 1987. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever scouted another prospect with the puck skill and shooting ability that Bedard has,” FCHockey head Western scout Derek Neumeier said. “He’s just so good and so natural with his stick that is almost seems like an extension of his own body. It’s also truly incredible how much velocity he gets behind his shots given his size and age, and he has no trouble sending those shots exactly where he wants them to go. 

“Add in elite hockey sense, elite focus and elite competitiveness, and the whole package makes Bedard a generational kind of talent.”

But that’s not all. 

Bedard’s three assists also helped the 5-foot-9, 181-pound forward reach 100 points, becoming only the third player in league history to hit triple digits at 16.  Bedard joins Dan Lucas of the Victoria Cougars (113 points; 1974-75), Goodall (112 points; 1986-87), and Ken Yaremchuk of the Portland Winterhawks (107 points; 1980-81).

The effort came after a slow start — by Bedard’s standards. 

He had 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in 24 games with Regina prior to leaving in December to represent Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship.

After netting five points (four goals, one assist) in two games in the COVID-shortened tournament, Bedard rifled home 76 points (37 goals, 39 assists) in his final 38 games of the season.

“Two things excite me most about Bedard,” FCHockey scout Joel Henderson said. “His ability to shift laterally once he’s built speed in order to constantly retain puck control is impressive, as is his elite level release to his wrist shot. He can shoot off any foot, from any level of balance, and gets a snap as good as current NHL players already.”

Understandably, he’s the projected No. 1 pick for the 2023 NHL Draft. 

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