Photo Courtesy: Dave Watling Photography
This piece was released on the evening of March 24th. The above image was not properly sourced or credited at the time and that was completely my fault. In these tumultuous times that we’re living in, giving proper credit and support to workers who have been impacted by the loss of sport or any industry is paramount.
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In a historic moment, the WHL announced on Tuesday that 14-year-old, North Vancouver-native, Connor Bedard would be the first westerner to be granted exceptional status.
Bedard was downright dominant in the CSSHL – a premier U19 league. He led the league in goals (43) and points (84) in just 36 contests. The 5’8 165lb forward owns dynamic speed and skill set that should immediately translate to Major Junior hockey.
“BC Hockey would like to congratulate Connor on being announced as the first player from Western Canada to be granted exceptional status in the CHL and WHL,” said BC Hockey Chief Executive Officer Barry Petrachenko in a statement. “Throughout the evaluation process, Connor has displayed the tremendous potential he has both mentally and physically to be able to be granted exceptional status.”
The WHL draft lottery will take place online this year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The bottom six teams will have a shot at landing Bedard with the Swift Current Broncos having the best odds.
Bedard is just the seventh player to ever receive exceptional player status in the CHL. The OHL has done it five times – John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sean Day, and Shane Wright. While the QMJHL allowed Red Wings first-rounder, Joe Veleno to play early.
We don’t need to look far back to see examples of exception status kids tearing up the competition as rookies. In the OHL this past season, Shane Wright tallied a whopping 29 goals and 66 points in 58 games for a brutal Kingston squad. Both those marks trumped Connor McDavid’s 15-year-old campaign. The expectation is that Bedard will have a chance to do something similar in the Western League next season.
Bedard, along with Russian, Matvei Michkov are the frontrunners to go first overall in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft.
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