‘High expectations’ for 17-year-old hockey prodigy Conor Bedard

Although he won’t play an NHL game for another 10 months, 17-year-old Canadian Conor Bedard is thought by hockey pundits to be the league’s next standout star. .

The 5-foot-10-inch forward tied an all-time tournament record at the 2023 World Junior Hockey Championships with seven points in a game against Germany on Dec. 28. In his next match, 29 December, he scored two goals and four assists against Austria. This brought his career Canadians his Worlds his junior goal total to 14, and Regina He tied the record with Pats alum Jordan Heberle.

Hockey’s eyes have been on the North Vancouver forward for some time now. He was the first player in Western Hockey League (WHL) history and the seventh in junior hockey history. Grant special player status Play at age 15.

The Regina Patz Center scored a staggering 28 points in 15 games in 2020.21 seasons. in 202122 seasons, his 51 goals and 100 points They were second and fourth best respectively in the league and broke the WHL record for youngest player to score 50 goals in a season.this season he had Scored 64 points in a 28-game scoring streak For Pats that ended with his departure to the world juniors.

Sports talk show host Rod Pedersen aired Bedard’s first WHL game.

Epoch Times photo
Canada’s Conor Bedard celebrates with the championship trophy after beating Russia 5-3 during the 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Gold Medal Game at the Comerica Center in Frisco, Texas on May 6, 2021. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

“It’s a little unfair and I’ve felt guilty saying he’s the next Conor McDavid, the next Sidney Crosby. I interviewed him when he was 14. I started by asking who the NHLers you compare yourself to, and he said, “I am me. rice field.

“Every time I interview him, it intimidates me. I’ve been in this industry for nearly 35 years, but when I interview him and look him in the eye, he has a very intimidating soul. He’s all about business.He’s incredibly mature and that’s why he was given the first ever exceptional player tag in the Western Hockey League.It’s as much about his emotional as it is about his skill. It was because of their maturity.”

On the December 28 TSN broadcast of the game, commentator Jeff O’Neill compared Bedard to Mario Lemieux and Brett Hull. But Pederson thinks another comparison is more apt.

“when [Bedard] I went to the U18 world in Texas [in April]people told me, ‘He’s not McDavid. He’s not going to burn the whole team over the edge. , ‘there’

At 5 feet 9 inches, Dionne was drafted second to Guy Raffler in the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft. A centerman who later won three World Championships and the Canadian Cup, he retired in 1989 with 731 goals and 1,771 points, both of which put him sixth in the NHL. ranked as the best player.

“I’m pretty sure 17-year-old Marcel Dionne probably had a very similar physique to Conor. Short in stature, incredible shots, and very cunning. That’s him. He’s hard to catch.” He’s hard to hit,” Pederson said.

“Marcel is in a 500 goal club and I’m sure Conor Bedard will get there too. Even NHLers say Ouston Matthews is the only one with a better shot in the NHL right now. ”

“20 Years of Randomness”

Moshe Lander, a senior lecturer in economics at Concordia University, said Bedard was someone the NHL could build a brand with.

“From a business standpoint, he’s on the market,” Lander told the Epoch Times.

“He fits the hockey demographic they’re looking for. He’s young, he’s Canadian, he’s clean in every way. There’s no history. He’s like a team player. He’s clearly skilled, and he’s doing it when ‘the world is watching.'”

Landor believes that Bedard’s high expectations are not misplaced, but their realization is not guaranteed.

“The great thing about being 17 is that he can be almost anything, so if he has that game, you can easily write he’s the next superstar,” he said. I was.

“The problem with these high expectations is that you might be able to [fulfill them]but there’s still 20 years of randomness that can derail a promising career.As a Londoner, I think of Eric Lindros [born in London, Ontario,] “He had a successful career and a promising future, but was derailed by his history of concussions and injuries.”

Bedard was selected by Pat as the first exceptional status player in the 2020 WHL Bantam Draft and is also expected to be the first draft pick in the NHL Draft. to place. In this draw, the lower the placement, the more likely it is to receive his pick in the first overall draft. Lander believes the culture of the team that acquired Bedard will have a big impact on his career.

“With the way the NHL is currently designed, you’ll see teams try to get him. But when he turns pro, he’s playing for garbage teams now,” he said.

“Will he enter a structurally well-run franchise? [that] Talent pool empty? Or are you going to a poorly run team? The Sabers have fallen well short of expectations this decade. They keep getting these top picks and they keep destroying them. So if Bedard ends up with a franchise that kills his talent, this is not something he can control. “

No. 1 overall pick in the previous NHL Draft, Regina Pats shows that highly regarded junior players don’t always live up to expectations at the professional level.

Defenseman Greg Jolly was first drafted by the Washington Capitals in 1974, but scored only 97 points in 365 games during his NHL career. Center Doug Wickenheiser was drafted No. 1 overall by the Montreal Canadiens in 1980 after his 89-goal season with Regina Patz. In his 10-year NHL career, he was with four different teams and in 556 games he scored 276 points.

Again, Pedersen believes Bedard outperforms these examples.

“Is he the greatest hockey player ever to wear a Regina Putts uniform? Based on what he’s done, I think I’d have to say yes.”

But is Bedard a franchise player or the best player of his generation?

“This is one of those questions that doesn’t have a right answer today, but it’s fun to talk about. If anyone can handle it, I think it’s him,” Pedersen said.

“I’ve been in this industry for decades. There are a lot of people who have the skills but aren’t emotionally mature enough to handle it. He is. He’s a good boy and really I wish him all the best because he’s a nice guy.”

Lee Harding

Lee Harding is a Saskatchewan-based journalist, think tank researcher, and contributor to The Epoch Times.