For the next couple of months leading up to the 2023 National Hockey League (NHL) Draft in Nashville on June 28, there will be plenty of discussions if Connor Bedard will become the next generational player in the NHL. But there is no doubt he achieved that status in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Regina Pats. For the majority of the Regina Pats fanbase, Bedard was a once-in-a-lifetime player.
Bedard’s time with the Regina Pats likely came to an end on Monday night when the Pats were eliminated from the playoffs after a 4-1 loss to the Saskatoon Blades in Game 7 of their first round series. There is no doubt that the 17-year-old made an enormous impact in the Queen City both on and off the ice.
It was an eventful three years for Bedard as a member of the Pats. In the 2020 WHL Prospects Draft, Regina selected Bedard with the 1st overall pick.
With the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to make an impact, the WHL 2020-21 regular season was restricted to a bubble inside of Regina. Bedard provided a preview of things to come as he picked up 28 points (12G-16A) in 15 games in his first WHL campaign. He would be named the winner of the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy for the WHL’s top rookie that season.
Before being drafted by the Pats, Bedard had never been to Regina, but he grew to appreciate the community.
“People here are so nice, I love it here.”
Bedard added that he is grateful to spend his entire junior hockey career in Regina.
Leading With the “C”
On September 22, 2022, the Regina Pats announced Bedard would assume the role of the team’s captain. The forward became the 81st player to wear the “C” for Regina and the youngest player at 17 years and two months old. Looking back, Bedard said it was an honour to wear the “C” in Regina.
“Pretty storied franchise and for me to be kind of on that long list of those captains was kind of a dream of mine.”
The experience of being the captain for the Pats this season is something Bedard says he won’t take for granted.
Pats Head Coach John Paddock said Bedard taking on the captain’s responsibility was another example of the Pats leading scorer acting beyond his years.
“He wanted to be the guy in all situations and you know, he became that. ”
Path to the Draft
The spring and summer following a junior hockey season is usually the downtime for players, but the next few months will be busy for the odds-on favourite to be selected with the first pick of the 2023 NHL Draft.
On Monday, May 8, we should have an idea of what NHL jersey Bedard will be wearing as a professional. On that date, the league will be conducting their NHL Draft Lottery to determine who will receive the number one selection. The Columbus Blue Jackets, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks are the four teams with the best odds heading into the final two days of the regular season.
Bedard says after some downtime in Vancouver, his main focus will be training.
“For me there are definitely lots of areas to improve.”
During the 2022-23 season, Bedard posted staggering numbers. Over a 57-game season, he recorded 71 goals and 72 assists (143 points). After not registering a point in the Pats season-opening contest against the Moose Jaw Warriors, the WHL leading scorer would then assemble a 35-game point streak. Even though his Western Hockey League days are likely finished with his NHL career set to begin, Bedard doesn’t want to take time and reflect on the stat line.
“I’ll watch my games back for learning purposes but I don’t really look at my you know own stat line.”
As a 17-year-old, there is still a lot of time for Bedard to create his legacy even with the Regina Pats chapter likely closed. The soon-to-be NHLer was thankful for his time in Regina.
“There’s so much pride that comes with wearing that jersey, it’s been so much fun these last three years.”