For those who might have missed it, and most people that aren’t die-hard hockey fans might have during the Holidays; Connor Bedard had a coming-out party for the ages. During the annual IIHF World Junior tournament, Bedard put on a historic display; and removed any doubt that he might be the next “one”.
The 17yo, 5’9” center from Vancouver, BC dominated the Word Juniors. His hands, hockey-sense and natural-ability are being compared to the likes of Gretzky and Crosby. Just how dominant was Bedard? Is it “hype” or is it deserved?
Connor Bedard broke every World Junior scoring record. Easily.
Bedard netted nine goals, and added another fourteen assists to tally twenty-three points. That number easily eclipses the eighteen points that Dale McCourt and Brayden Schenn had previously posted. While these numbers tell part of the story, the ease of which he did so is another one. Bedard seemed to make quick work of even the best competition. His skill seemed almost effortless as he shamed his contemporaries.
The game of hockey is/has been transitioning from a game of brute-force to one of finesse. The European-style, while long-mocked and mostly disregarded in North America, is finally showing its place in the evolution of the sport. Twenty years ago, when yours truly was playing; someone at the stature of 5’9” was seen as a novelty.
Their lack of size, regardless of their ability; which allows quick playmaking, was seen as a major impediment. If you weren’t at least six-feet tall, you were deemed too-small to survive. The modern game has shifted and is allowing players like Bedard who are very highly-skilled, yet lack the long-standard size to have a place at the table.
What is the future?
Connor Bedard is showing that skill, speed and instinct are the future of the NHL. The modern NHL is quickly becoming a display of flash and scoring.
Players like Trevor Zegras have shown that the highlight-reel aspect of hockey is one of the best ways to showcase and grow the game to new audiences. Zegras’ blindfolded-antics during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition were one of the most amazing displays of what the creativity of the modern hockey player can do:
While not as “flashy” as Zegras, Bedard has the skill-set to become the heir-apparent to the throne as the most exciting and productive player in the game. That’s quite a flex, considering that the NHL is also currently boasting a crop of insanely-skilled talent like Connor McDavid, David Pastrknak, Auston Matthews and most recently Jason Robertson.
Whomever has the luxury to select Connor Bedard with the first-overall pick in this year’s draft will no doubt be acquiring a generational player. With the requirement of overall-size becoming less important, we should be seeing a glut of amazing talent making its way into the NHL in the coming years. This will undoubtedly help to make one of the most exciting sports even more appealing and noteworthy.
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