The 2023 NHL Entry Draft takes place June 28-29 in Nashville, Tennessee, at Bridgestone Arena, home of the Nashville Predators. All eyes will be on Regina Pats phenom Connor Bedard.
Bedard, 17, is the projected first-overall pick in this year’s draft. The 5’ 10”, 185 lb center has 103 points (51G, 52A) in 41 games with Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League in 2022/23.
On Friday night against the Prince Albert Raiders in a 6-5 loss, Bedard had four points, scoring his 50th goal, then following it up with an assist for his 100th point marking the second straight season he has managed both milestones. In 2021/22, he had 51 goals and 49 assists in 62 games.
It happened to be the same night Connor McDavid scored his 100th point of the season for the Edmonton Oilers. For two players who will be linked together in the NHL for years to come, it’s rather fitting they accomplished the same feat on the same night.
After Friday, Bedard can say he accomplished at least one thing McDavid did not, back-to-back 100-point seasons in the CHL. McDavid had 99 points in the OHL before his 123-point season.
Bedard becomes one of only five CHL players to have back-to-back 100 points seasons before turning 18 years old. The four others were John Tavares, Sidney Crosby, Vincent Lecavalier, and the late New York Islanders great Mike Bossy.
He followed up Friday’s 4-pt performance with three points versus the CHL’s top-ranked team Winnipeg Ice on Saturday night in yet another losing effort, falling 7-4.
Since returning to Regina from the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship, where he led Canada with 23 points (nine goals, 14 assists), he hasn’t slowed down, scoring 24 goals and 15 assists in 12 games with the Pats, going scoreless only once over that span.
Regina currently is fourth in the WHL East Division and in the first Wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference of the Western Hockey League standings as of Sunday, February 19, 2023, with a 25-24-2-1 record.
With Bedard scoring at over a 2.5-pts per game pace, Regina needs to start putting more wins together, as they are in a 5-team race for the two wildcard spots in the WHL’s Eastern Conference with the Swift Current Broncos, Medicine Hat Tigers, Brandon Wheat Kings, and Prince Albert Raiders.
Failure to make the playoffs by Regina would be a missed opportunity for Bedard to add his already impressive resume of what he can do in high-pressure games and, quite frankly, rob WHL fans of the chance to watch him more before he goes to the NHL.
NHL teams falling out of the playoff picture have started to move assets. With less than two weeks until the March 3 NHL trade deadline will be hoping the silver lining to a disappointing 2022/23 season will be winning the NHL Draft Lottery once the NHL regular season concludes, which would give them a chance to add a franchise-changing generational talent in Connor Bedard. #BedardWatch will be in full effect for the final two months of the NHL season.