At this point in the pre-draft process, every NHL fan knows the name of 17-year-old Connor Bedard. The future of the first overall pick has never been clearer; he’ll practically be already drafted when the draft lottery winner is announced Monday. There’s no prospect quite like him, and he likely outperforms his fellow draftees by such a wide margin that the first pick is nearly untradeable. As Bedard can’t exactly be compared to any members of this draft class, how does he stack up against some of the greatest prospects of all time?
The short answer: Connor Bedard is the best prospect of this century. That’s not a statement to be taken lightly, as draft classes of previous years have yielded players like Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid. However, Bedard’s statistics and play on the ice outperform that of his predecessors.
Sidney Crosby took a similar route to Bedard in order to make it to the NHL. He played in a Canadian Junior league, the QMJHL instead of the WHL like Bedard. After three years with Rimouski, he was drafted first overall as an incredibly highly touted prospect at 17 years old, just like Bedard. He played his whole first season with the Penguins, and the rest is history.
Connor McDavid was also a product of Canadian Junior hockey, as he played for the Erie Otters of the OHL. He got drafted at age 18 and played for Edmonton throughout his rookie year. When he was selected first overall, he was dubbed “the best prospect since Sidney Crosby”.
As a prospect, McDavid clearly outshone everyone else in his class; thus, he had to be compared to the previous best prospect in Crosby. Even Crosby probably had to deal with comparisons to Rick Nash or Joe Thornton. Similarly, Connor Bedard faces comparisons to previous prospects today. No one in his draft class can hold a candle to him, even though there’s plenty of talent at the top of the draft in players like Adam Fantilli, Leo Carlsson, and Matvei Michkov. Thus, he draws comparisons to players like McDavid and Crosby, but it seems that he may be even more polished than those two coming out. He’s younger, for starters. Additionally, those players were on great Junior League teams, but those teams were also filled with great players. Bedard’s Regina Pats didn’t win any awards this year, but his team didn’t have a ton of talent on its roster. The talent they did have was made significantly better by Bedard. Thus, Bedard could be the best prospect we’ve seen in the draft in the 21st century.
Connor Bedard is a prospect that only comes around once in a general manager’s career. The Blackhawks, after their remarkably poor 2022-23 campaign, have positioned themselves to have a chance at him. Although in third with an 11.5% chance to get the first overall pick, Chicago has a shot at drafting the future of its franchise.
Bedard’s Regina Pats didn’t win any awards this year, but his team didn’t have a ton of talent on its roster.