At the Last Futurist we like to speculate on the careers of incredible young prospects in sports. While in the NHL Connor McDavid had a season for the ages, another Connor is jolting our attention at a tender young age.
The Next Connor
Connor Bedard is performing perhaps better than any other 15-year old hockey player in history. His ability to create scoring chances with a more versatile shot than Steven Stamkos is raising eyebrows. While he doesn’t appear to have the speed of a Connor McDavid, he has an incredible ability to control the play and be an impactful offensive talent.
He is essentially the first 15-year-old granted exceptional status to play in the Western Hockey League. He travelled to Sweden in the fall to practice and play with HV71. His performance in the WHL suggests he will be possibly a generational end talent. No. 98 has 28 points in 15 games including 12 goals. That’s, well, outrageous!
He will be the 1st pick in the 2023 NHL draft. That much is obvious.
The prodigious talent from North Vancouver, B.C. has a history of training with pros and has the most mature shot selection, accuracy and what is essentially a professional level shot of any 15-year old perhaps ever. He had a dominant campaign at the World Under 18s too.
This Connor is a better goal scorer than McDavid, though his game might not translate as well to the NHL due to his apparent lack of all-star speed and his lack of size. However in today’s NHL, size doesn’t matter as much as it used to. At 15, Bedard could easily grow into a 5’11” frame or even taller, it’s too soon to say.
The WHL is not an easy league to score in, and to be among the top 10-points-per-game leaders there is unbelievable. Some might even say unheard of. He is already on a short list of players previously granted that status which includes John Tavares, Connor McDavid and Shane Wright.
While Shane Wright is a gritty two-way talent, he doesn’t have the offensive upside of Connor Bedard, though he has a pretty good shot too.
I see Bedard in the mold of a Pat Lafontaine. Lafontaine scored 234 points in junior in a single campaign in 1982. However Bedard has a better shot than Pat Lafontaine did. Connor McDavid at the same age had a 1.05 points per game in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) in 2012-13, back when he was also a 15-year-old CHL freshman. This Connor? 1.69.
His release is so deceptive and he can score in so many ways, with fakes and different kinds of releases.
His passing is underrated too. I think his speed could continue to improve as he improves as an athlete. He’ll certainly be faster than say, a John Tavares, who was a pretty good goal scorer in junior in his days. Keep in mind, in the WHL he’s playing against some men who are 21-years old, six years older than him.
Maybe it is no coincidence that a seven-year-old Connor Bedard selected No. 98 knowing that no NHL player wore it. He’s setting the Regina Pats on fire and is a very creative player whose offensive talent really is a spectacle to behold. His far side shot comes out of nowhere!
I think the Lynn Valley teen has a high ceiling. His release in close isn’t as snappy as Auston Matthews, but his stick handling is superior with an offensive game that likely to develop into being more creative. His shot is clearly more deceptive, but given less time and space in the NHL game, how will he adapt? His game is still raw, but his release has the chance to become very lethal, even at the professional level.
He’s only 5’9 and 165 pounds today. He’s only 15-years old. But there are few rookies in the Canadian Hockey League that can be expected to be as watched. There is a dazzle in his game that will win fans. He is a highlight reel machine with a goal per game standard that could reach ridiculous heights.
We’ll know over the next few years how good Connor Bedard is, but if history repeats itself he may be a generational talent. At this point I’d say that there is a 60% chance he is one.
It’s rare to see a player given exceptional status at the Junior Hockey level but a 15-year old has never done what he has done to the WHL. He’s essentially better than McDavid was at the same age. McDavid is the best player since Crosby and has a higher ceiling in today’s fast-paced game. Bedard certainly has a better shot than Crosby and is more of a dangler than Crosby who would outwork you.
Bedard is more grace to Crosby’s braun and more of a sniper to Crosby’s heart. I think he can develop top-end speed, but isn’t quite there yet. Historically as a youth Bedard has had more goals than assists and that’s very telling of his game.
He speeds in to the opposing zone and he finds a way to score, often from quite far away, relying on his superior shot. In the WHL he will fine tune his offensive and defensive game and try to become a better two way player.
At the U18 tournament he had 7 goals and 7 assists for 14 points in 7 games, tied with Shane Wright for the team lead with two more games in hand. Shane Wright is however two years older than Connor. Wright will likely go 1st overall in 2022.
Bedard has time to grow, time to decide what kind of a player he will be at the pro level. Wright had 39 goals in 58 games in the OHL last year, incredible numbers in themselves. The OHL season was canceled this year. But the OHL is a slightly easier league to rack up points in, the goalies in the WHL are slightly better.
Wright is gritty and determined, Bedard is masterful and poised, it’s a different atmosphere of prospect excellence. However they are both supreme and rare talents in back-to-back draft years. There’s a fair amount of high-end talent in both NHL years 2022 and 2023, or so it appears in 2021.
However at the Last Futurist we believe Bedard is a cut above Wright. Wright could be an all-star at the pro level, but Bedard could be a superstar. We’ll be watching number 98, and if you are a fan of NHL hockey, so will you!