On Wednesday, June 28, 2023, star forward of the Canadian Western Hockey League Regina Pats, Connor Bedard, was picked first overall in the NHL Draft to the Chicago Blackhawks.
Bedard hasn’t even played a NHL game yet, but has drawn comparisons to some of the greatest in the NHL. Being compared to greats like Connor McDavid or Sidney Crosby, is not taken lightly by NHL fans. But Bedard started gaining the eyes of hockey fans at age 15, when he began playing for Regina in the WHL. Bedard was the youngest player ever granted access to play in the league.
In his freshman season alone, the forward scored 12 goals and added 16 assists in 15 games played. This past season, after earning his captaincy, he scored 71 goals and notched 72 assists in 57 games played, totaling 143 points. This past January he also helped lead the way for Team Canada to a World Junior Championship gold medal.
The night of the draft, Bedard was the player everyone had their eye on. Some fans even deemed it the “Connor Bedard Show.” But throughout the draft recruitment process and when his name was called, Bedard handled himself humbly.
One could compare the way he presents himself a lot to Pittsburgh Penguins legend, Crosby.
The coincidence? Bedard’s first regular season game with the Blackhawks will be against fellow first overall pick of the Penguins, Crosby.
Crosby’s teenage beginnings in the hockey world were very similar to that of Bedard’s. In his second World Junior Championship, he brought his team to gold, scoring six goals and three assists in six games in their run. In that same season, serving as the assistant captain, he scored 66 goals and collected 102 assists over 62 games for the Rimouski Océanic of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
For Bedard, there is no doubt in many’s mind of his potential to live up to Crosby, but he’ll definitely need time to learn the speed of the NHL and the talented players that come with the territory.
The Crosby-Bedard matchup will take place on Tuesday, Oct. 10 at 8 p.m. at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. It will be the game of the week broadcasted on ESPN and ESPN+.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have the home turf, but with the new additions of Taylor Hall, Corey Perry and Nick Foligno to add the veteran depth to the Blackhawks roster, the matchup should be interesting. All in all, it’s another reason to be thrilled for the upcoming NHL season.