NHL Draft: How Connor Bedard’s accomplishments compare to Connor McDavid’s, other recent prospects

The Chicago Blackhawks have the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, and as such, Connor Bedard’s hype train has reached terminal speed. That might sound like too much buzz for a 17-year-old stud who has yet to play an NHL shift, but Bedard really has the pre-draft resume to back it up.

Few of the NHL’s top draft prospects in the past decade have received as much attention as Bedard – and that list includes Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews. That’s because Bedard completely dominated his draft year, both in the Western Hockey League and at the World Junior Championship.

During his time with the Regina Pats of the WHL, Bedard put up some stunning numbers, especially for his age.

  • 2021-22: Bedard became the first 16-year-old to score 50 goals in a single WHL season.
  • 2022-23: Bedard had 143 points (71 goals and 72 assists), which led the WHL by 36 points.
  • Playoffs 2023: Bedard had 10 goals and 10 assists in seven playoff games.

In addition to those numbers in junior hockey, Bedard has two gold medals at the World Junior Championship. He was a superstar at the 2023 tournament.

  • 2022: Bedard has scored four goals and added four assists in Canada’s gold medal streak.
  • 2023: Bedard set a Canadian record with 23 points and was named tournament MVP.

Even before 2023, Bedard cemented his place at the top of the 2023 NHL Draft. It compares quite favorably to some of the most touted #1 picks in recent memory. To prove it, let’s look at how Bedard compares to MacKinnon, McDavid and Matthews.

Nathan MacKinnon, 2013 draft class

In the 2013 NHL Draft, MacKinnon was the No. 1 pick, selected ahead of players like Aleksander Barkov and Seth Jones.

Going into this draft, MacKinnon was highly regarded as a franchise player after a fantastic career with the Halifax Mooseheads of the QMJHL. Even at the age of 16, MacKinnon put on stellar numbers in Halifax.

  • 2011-12: MacKinnon had 31 goals and 47 assists in 58 games as a 16-year-old.
  • 2012-13: MacKinnon has scored 32 goals and had 75 points in just 44 games.

MacKinnon’s junior hockey career was good enough to make him the top prospect of the 2013 draft, but he wasn’t able to achieve as much success as Bedard at the World Junior Championships. MacKinnon earned a spot on Team Canada in 2013, but had just one assist in six games as the team stumbled to a fourth-place finish.

Connor McDavid, 2015 draft class

McDavid was the definition of a generational perspective. He had the size, speed, production and intangibles to succeed at the NHL level, and he delivered the goods (he still didn’t win a Stanley Cup, though) in eight seasons with the Oilers. ‘Edmonton.

Even at a young age, McDavid had the makings of a potential NHL superstar. He was just 15 when he started his career with the OHL’s Erie Otters, but he didn’t look out of place at all.

  • 2012-13: McDavid scored 25 goals and 66 points in 63 games in his first season of junior hockey.
  • 2013-14: McDavid showed his elite passing ability with 71 assists and 99 points in 56 games.
  • 2014-15: McDavid took his tally to another level with 44 goals in 47 games while posting 120 points.
  • 2015 OHL playoffs: In just 20 playoff games, McDavid has recorded 21 goals and 28 assists.

McDavid was already a superstar before the draft because of the way he burned down the OHL, but he also played well in two world junior tournaments. He participated in the 2014 tournament as a 16-year-old and helped Canada win a gold medal in 2015.

  • 2014 : McDavid scored a goal and added three assists as Canada finished fourth.
  • 2015 : McDavid tied for the tournament lead in points (11) as Canada won gold.

Between his physical tools and his production in the OHL and the World Junior Championship, there was no doubt that McDavid was an incredibly rare prospect. The fact that Bedard has the stats and accolades to match McDavid only makes him more tempting to NHL scouts.

Auston Matthews, 2016 draft class

Matthews’ path to the NHL before the draft was less traditional than others, but it was clear he was an elite prospect.

In his final season on the U-18 U.S. National Team, Matthews led the team in scoring by 10 points, and that roster included the likes of Matthew Tkachuk and Jack Roslovic. In his draft year, Matthews went to play for Zurich SC of the Swiss-A League and won against professionals in Europe.

  • 2014-15: Matthews led the U.S. national team in goals (20), assists (28) and points (48).
  • 2015-16: Matthews led Zurich SC in goals (24), which were tied for fourth in the league – despite missing 14 games.

Matthews’ goal-scoring ability also translated to the World Junior Championship. He had a relatively quiet tournament as an 18-year-old in 2015, but bounced back in 2016.

  • 2015 : Matthews scored a goal and had two assists as Team USA did not win a medal.
  • 2016: Matthews had seven goals and 11 points in seven games; The United States won bronze.

Matthews was a great center who could score goals at an impressive rate, and that translated very well at the NHL level. Bedard doesn’t have the size of Matthews, but he has shown a similar penchant for filling the net.

The verdict

No matter how you slice it, Bedard is in sparse air when it comes to his pre-draft resume. Even the top prospects of the past 10 years struggle to match Bédard’s accomplishments in junior hockey and on the international stage.

In a recent poll of five NHL scouts and executives conducted by The Athletic, Bedard was ranked the second-best No. 1 prospect of the past decade, dating back to 2014. Only McDavid ranked ahead of Bedard, due of the Oilers star’s tallest stature. unparalleled size and speed.

That’s not to say Bedard will be as good or better than McDavid, Matthews and MacKinnon. Physical characteristics such as height and speed cannot be overlooked when planning an NHL career, and no two prospects develop at the same rate.

That said, it’s easy to look at what Bedard has done so far in his career and picture him as one of the league’s top five players as early as possible. Don’t expect the buzz around Bedard to die down anytime soon.

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