Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day our LWOS Prospects Writers will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2023 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow Ben Kerr, Kyle Pereira and Frederik Frandson on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! Today we bring you our Connor Bedard Scouting Report.
Every decade or so, the hockey world is blessed with a generational prospect. It’s a lofty comparison, but the line of Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, and Connor McDavid has found the next one. His name is Connor Bedard and he is the crown jewel of the 2023 NHL Draft. Coming from Vancouver, and playing for the Regina Pats in the WHL, Bedard has torn up the league. He put up 71 goals and 72 assists for 143 points in just 57 games this year. He also put up 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points in seven playoff games. Unfortunately, Bedard and the Pats were eliminated in the first round.
Bedard has also been incredible on the international scene. He put up nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points in seven games at the World Junior Championships, helping Canada to a gold medal. He also helped the team to the 2022 World Junior gold medal. Bedard also helped Team Canada to an Under-18 World Championships gold. We won’t list his awards and honours, you can find them here. Suffice it to say he has basically been given every honour at the WHL and International levels.
Connor Bedard Scouting Report
Centre — shoots Right
Born July 17th, 2005 — North Vancouver, British Columbia
Height 5’10” — Weight 185 lbs [178 cm/84 kg]
Bedard is a very good skater. While he is not the best skater in this draft class, he is still in the top echelon. He has a very good first step and excellent acceleration. Bedard can fool defenders with his ability to change speeds both with and without the puck. While he is not an absolute speedster, Bedard still skates well enough to create off the rush. His ability to control the puck and make plays while moving at top speed makes him seem even faster. He also has very good edgework and agility. Bedard can weave in and out of traffic both with and without the puck. His low centre of gravity gives him excellent balance. It is very difficult to knock him off the puck. He is also able to win battles on the boards and in front of the net. This area of his game should only improve as he gains weight and muscle on his frame.
Bedard’s skating is good but not generational like Connor McDavid. Instead, he excels in other areas. Bedard’s hockey sense is off the charts. He reads the play extremely well and always seems to be one step ahead of both his opponents and teammates. He has a knack for finding open ice, even when everyone on the ice is watching him. His shot is already at an elite NHL level. Bedard is a pure goal scorer. His release is extremely quick and goalies find it very hard to read. Bedard has an excellent array of shots. While his wrist shot and snapshot are outstanding, he can also score with his slap shot and backhand. He has the hands to deke goalies and make plays in tight to the net. Excellent hand-eye coordination and quick hands allow him to tip in pucks and pounce on rebounds as well.
Bedard is also an outstanding playmaker. He sees the ice very well and anticipates the moves of both teammates and opponents. His quick hands allow him to make a move and open up a shooting or passing lane. Bedard can control the play down low, protecting the puck with his stickhandling, balance, and body control. His elite skill allows him to pass the puck to a teammate, even through traffic. He has amazing puck control and can make a play in tight spaces, such as his overtime winner in the quarterfinal against Slovakia. Bedard can do it all and it’s easy to see why so many are intrigued by his immense potential.
Bedard will need to continue to work on his defensive game at the next level. The reality is that at the junior hockey level, he hasn’t been tested much defensively. When Bedard is on the ice, he controls the puck and drives the play. His ability to read the game and his hockey sense should be huge assets going forward. He will need to work on his play away from the puck though and a good coaching and development staff can take him to the next level. While Bedard isn’t bad defensively, this is the least developed part of his game. There is no reason to think he will be a liability going forward though.
Projection and Comparison
As mentioned, Bedard’s potential is off the charts. He could become the next great NHL superstar and should take over as the best player in the league when Connor McDavid starts to age out of that spot. He will be a franchise-defining player and the chances of him busting are very low. Every team in the NHL would love to have him. Expect to see him in the NHL and challenging for the Calder Trophy next season. Bedard’s game is more reminiscent of Crosby than McDavid, but there are also elements of Auston Matthews in there as well. This is a stylistic comparison, though it is tough given his unique set of skills and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Connor Bedard that are available on youtube and Twitter.
Connor Bedard Scores Goal Of The Tournament Vs Slovakia 🇨🇦 pic.twitter.com/CmrzqRd5oC
— Steve Harper (@habsfan79sh) January 3, 2023
Check back later for our next NHL Draft article.
Main Photo: Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports