Pipeline: Bedard knows he faces lofty expectations as consensus No. 1
There have been a lot of expectations for Connor Bedard since being the first ever player to be granted exceptional status in the Western Hockey League.
But the highly-skilled offensive talent wants to be known for more than just an ‘exceptional’ set of talents.
The 17-year-old wants to be “complete.”
“Just continuing that evolution of being more of a complete player,” Bedard told Guy Flaming on The Pipeline Show. “For me that’s really important. I think scouts want to see that and being good in all three zones.”
Bedard was granted exceptional status into the WHL just over two years ago, as a 14-year-old playing with the West Vancouver Academy Under-18 team.
It wasn’t until a bit later he got the opportunity to suit up for the Regina Pats, though.
In a bubble situation, no less, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
That didn’t diminish the experience, though.
“It was just exciting,” Bedard said. “It is a storied franchise and a lot of great players have come through there. It was weird for my draft year. I didn’t go to Regina til a year later in the bubble because of COVID. So there was a lot of anticipation and excitement.”
The time off definitely did not affect his play.
Bedard registered 28 points (12 goals, 16 assists) in 15 games in his shortened rookie season, landing him the Jim Piggott Trophy as WHL Rookie of the Year. He followed up that impressive freshman offering with 100 points (51 goals, 49 assists) in 62 games in his second season with the Pats in 2021-22.
But it’s the other parts of his game that he’s most proud of.
And it’s continued the evolution of the highly-touted projected No. 1 in 2023.
“I think it’s my 200-foot game,” Bedard said. “Mid-to-end of last year I’ve been invested in all those situations. It’s something I want and I think just over the past couple of years with coaching and experience I’ve become more of a complete player.”
The 5-foot-10, 185-pound pivot says he still has areas in his game that he would like to improve upon.
“Just continuing that evolution of being more of a complete player,” he said. “For me that’s really important. I think scouts want to see that and being good in all three zones.”
It couldn’t hurt.
Then again, few things will hurt the draft stock of Bedard, the early consensus No. 1 pick for the 2023 NHL Draft. Bedard is known for electrifying play, and in particular his spectacular shot — which is not only hard, but also very accurate with a quick release.
Opponents on any stage, including the World Junior Championship showcase, can attest to.
The North Vancouver, BC product was an immediate standout at the postponed World Juniors in December, and he picked up right where he left off in the summer restart, netting eight points (four goals, four assists) in seven games.
“I think it definitely could help me for all the guys that were there and have that competitive nature and been around the best players and playing against the best players in the world,” he said. “I think that definitely helped me going into the season.
“I thought I played pretty well. Whenever you’re in a tournament like that it’s not about how you played personally, obviously we came out with the gold. It was pretty special and something I don’t take for granted.”
Five games into his WHL season with the Pats in 2022-23 can attest.
Bedard leads the league in scoring with nine points (five goals, four assists) in five games.
Again, though, the exceptional skater wants to be known as more.
He wants the perception of him to evolve.
“I’m a pretty good 200-foot player,” Bedard declared.
“I love to make plays and think I’m pretty creative.”