Top of the lottery prospects: Connor Bedard's season for the ages is officially over
The next goal he'll score will be for whichever NHL team is fortunate enough to win the lottery.
First things first (before we get to the grand totals), Connor Bedard's WHL playoff experience came to a close on Monday, April 10 when his team, the Regina Pats, lost to the Saskatoon Blades in a decisive Game 7. The series was close, with three of the seven games going to overtime, before Saskatoon won by three in the finale – their largest margin of victory in any of their four wins.
Two weeks after his elimination, Bedard is still just one point from the WHL playoff scoring lead with 20 points – and his 10 goals (to go along with his 10 assists, math power!) are still tied for the league lead as well. He remains No. 7 across the entire Canadian Hockey League (which includes the QMJHL and OHL) for postseason points, and each of the six players ahead of him is playing in the second round.
Regina finished with a total of 26 goals in the series, which means Bedard had a hand in roughly 77 percent of their scoring plays (which is even higher than the 60 percent clip he was responsible for during the regular season).
While I'm sure he was disappointed for the Pats to be eliminated in the first round, there wasn't much more he could have done individually to help their cause.
Now that his WHL season (and career) has officially ended, we can take a look at the final numbers:
Bedard didn't just finish at the top of the WHL in every single scoring category this season, but he also led the entire CHL in goals, points, and points per game. He had more games in which he recorded five points (10 times) than games in which he failed to score a point at all (five times).
His 71 goals were the most scored in the WHL in 24 years, and his 143 points were the most recorded in 27.
And this is where he ranks all-time in the WHL for the following categories:
- He averaged exactly one goal per game (134 goals in 134 GP), which puts him fourth overall, just ahead of Joe Sakic. The three players ranked in front of him all played between 1981 and 1984.
- His 1.022 assists per game ranks 41st, with the only other player born within a decade of him in the entire top 50 being Mat Barzal (and Barzal's number is so high thanks in part to an insane season the year after he was drafted by the Islanders, when he was playing in the WHL as a 19-year-old).
- His 2.022 points per game is 10th, and you have to go all the way down to No. 50 on the list before you find another player that wasn't playing in the 1980s or 90s (current Florida Panther Aleksi Heponiemi had two really good seasons from 2016-18).
He was the highest rated hockey prospect in the entire world coming in to this season and all he's done is reinforce that at every single turn.
NHL Central Scouting just dropped their final list of the top North American skaters and it's no surprise who's at the top:
As of right now, Connor Bedard isn't planning on playing for Canada at the World Championships (for which he wouldn't be asked to be on the U18 team with fellow teenagers, he would skate on the legit, IIHF big club filled with NHL players and grown men).
So that means that, between the World Juniors, the WHL preseason, regular season and playoffs, and the CHL/NHL top prospects game, Connor Bedard finishes his draft year with 100 goals in 83 games played.
Scott Wheeler at The Athletic watched every single one and broke them all down:
The article highlights how he's able to utilize all his different abilities to be a uniquely dominant scorer (thanks in large part to his perfect weapon of a shot), and talks about just how much of Bedard's skill set will translate to the NHL , according to Wheeler (spoiler alert: all of it).
It paints the picture of a complete player who has no real tendencies or deficiencies in the way that he scores. A 17-year-old prospect who is freakishly elite. A shooter with lethal accuracy who is already nearly impossible to stop. And the type of kid who has enough confidence in himself as a teenager that Connor McDavid is already sharing stories about the time Bedard looked off Sidney Crosby during two-on-one rushes at a training camp they all participated in.
You can't pay serious attention to hockey and not know his name and who he is by now. Connor Bedard is in the ether – and his highlights have been everywhere for years. He's been compared to Gretzky, Crosby and McDavid, and there's practically zero doubt he's going to step into the NHL and become an immediate superstar.
At this point I feel like I've read everything about him there is to read, and watched everything there is to watch. I've paid attention more than most (which will make it suck extra spectacularly if this all ends with me watching him play for a different team), but there's one thing about him that I have yet to see anyone else talk about. One thing that maybe no one else but me has realized.
This question gets reignited on Twitter from time to time and I always enjoy the thread and its ridiculous nature. I've never had anything to contribute to it in the past however. At least, until now:
That's right, I feel that Connor Bedard bears an eerily similar resemblance to American indie rock singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers (for anyone unfamiliar with Ms. Brigers' work, here is an excellent cover she did of "It'll All Work Out" by Tom Petty).
In honor of this, and to do my part into speaking it into existence, should the Blackhawks wind up with Connor Bedard, we'll figure out some kind of trivia contest to run on the site and I'll buy the winner both the finest Bedard shirsey of their choice, plus whatever Phoebe Bridgers shirt that they want. Word is bond.
So in summation, what do you get when you put together the hockey sense of Sidney Crosby, the playmaking ability of Patrick Kane, the release of Auston Matthews, and the face of Phoebe Bridgers? The best prospect the hockey world has seen since 2015 and a kid who may step into the NHL as an 18-year-old and already be one of the best players in the entire league. I hope that all of us are able to watch him 41 times in Chicago next year.
Because, otherwise: the Blackhawks are fuuuuuuuucked.