15 year old’s don’t dominate Major Junior. It just doesn’t happen, most aren’t even allowed to play. Under normal circumstances a 15-year old is only allowed to play 5 games in the WHL, unless their midget season is already over. Connor Bedard is a different story. He’s “exceptional”. Connor Bedard was the first WHL player ever to be granted exceptional status. This allows him to forgo the 5 game rule and play a full season in the WHL.
Bedard played for West Van Academy Prep at different levels, first playing in the U15 league as a 13-year old scoring 88 points in 30 games, as well as a small stint in the U16 league as a 13-year old where he notched 4 points in 2 games. Bedard became exceptional when he played in the CSSHL U18 league, scoring 84 points in 36 games against literally some adults at 14-years old. Connor who is not eligible until the 2023 NHL Entry Draft is already projected by many experts to go first overall.
The Regina Pats didn’t win the WHL Bantam Draft Lottery but still held onto their first pick and were given the ability to pick Connor Bedard, they didn’t hide it. Stating right after winning the lottery that they will likely be drafting the newly granted exceptional status player. A long COVID-19 offseason delayed their chance to be able to see him perform on the ice, but finally on March 12th, 2021 they got to see the young kid in action.
Not much would normally be expected by a 15-year old in the WHL, however, being the first player ever to be granted exceptional status brings expectations that have never been seen before for a kid so young. Unfortunately his team didn’t get the result they wanted in his first game, but for him it was unforgettable. 5:01 into the second frame he would score his first WHL goal, not stopping there. Just 48 seconds later he would pot another, scoring two goals in 48 seconds in his WHL debut. This would pull the Regina Pats within one, but they would ultimately fall behind in the third period and lose their “home” opener 6-3 to the Prince Albert Raiders.
🚨 Here’s the history makerConnor Bedard’s first in @TheWHL! pic.twitter.com/Wxh2JPChH9
Bedard would finish his WHL opening weekend with 6 points in 3 games, 3 goals and 3 assists. Currently sitting a 2 PPG pace which would be absolutely unheard of as a 15-year old playing in a U20 league. It’s been show why the WHL was correct in granting him exceptional status as we now get to see 3 full seasons of him in the WHL before he’ll be drafted eligible in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
Guess who is back & makin’ it happen? Some kid named Connor Bedard.@WHLPats | #SubwayWHLHub pic.twitter.com/8m1f6UHDm4
The future is bright for the young star, the focus will be on the Regina Pats to develop him properly, both as a player on the ice and as a leader off of it. It’s too far away to say where he’ll go in 2023, but whatever NHL franchise gets him is probably getting the best player to come out of Junior hockey since Connor McDavid.
Buffalo Sabres, you are on the clock. Too soon?