Bedard’s Arrival: The Dawn of a New Era as Connor Bedard Inks Transformative Three-Year Pact with the Chicago Blackhawks
Bedard turned 18 on Monday morning (July 17, 2023), qualifying him to sign an NHL entry-level contract. The Blackhawks have a three-year deal with the best prospect since Connor McDavid, which will become official later Monday.
Canadian professional ice hockey player Connor Bedard plays center for the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks. In the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, the Blackhawks took him first overall because he was regarded as one of his generation’s top ice hockey prospects.
From Regina to the Windy City: The Unforgettable Journey of Connor Bedard, Reigning Phenom of the Regina Pats, Continues with the Chicago Blackhawks
Bedard received exceptional status from Hockey Canada in March 2020, enabling him to join the top junior Canadian Hockey League component leagues a year earlier. Bedard was the first Western Hockey League (WHL) player of exceptional status, and the Regina Pats picked him first overall in the WHL Bantam Draft in 2020.  Bedard was loaned to the HV71 junior hockey system in September 2020, where he competed until the WHL called him back to play for its 2020–21 season, which started in March 2021. Bedard was named the Western Hockey League’s East Division rookie of the year. He earned the Jim Piggott Memorial Trophy as the WHL’s rookie of the year with 28 points in just 15 games as a rookie in the WHL, which included 12 goals and 16 assists. Bedard then left for the 2021 IIHF World U18 Championships.
By scoring his 50th and 51st goals in the final game of the regular season, Bedard made history by becoming the youngest player to ever achieve 50 or more goals in a season in the 2021–22 WHL. With 51 goals and 49 assists for an equal 100 points, he completed the year second in the WHL in terms of goals and fourth in terms of points. He was the first 16-year-old in the twenty-first century and just the third 16-year-old in the WHL to record a 100-point season. As an observer at the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, Bedard was referred to in The New York Times as “the most exciting future NHL player attending this week’s draft.”
Bedard started the 2022–23 season without a point, but he quickly went on a scoring rampage that helped him climb to the top of the WHL rankings. He recorded twenty-game point streaks in back-to-back WHL seasons on November 17, making him the league’s first player to do it in ten years. For example, Bedard’s first visit back to Greater Vancouver for a game against the Vancouver Giants drew almost 5,000 spectators, more than double the Giants’ average season attendance. Bedard’s presence was notable for generating sizable audiences for the Pats’ away games. Bedard still led the WHL in scoring upon his return on January 8 when he had four goals and two assists in a home victory against the Calgary Hitmen; that was 6-2 after missing eleven games in December and early January due to his playing at the World Junior Championships.
The Regina Pats, founded in 1917 as the Regina Patricia Hockey Club, has remained a Queen City institution for more than a century despite not being regarded as a competitive club, with Bedard being virtually certain to play in the NHL. The Pats are the world’s oldest significant junior hockey team and are named after Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry.
The following year, there was some media talk regarding whether the Pats should try to deal him to a competitive club in return for future assets before the WHL’s 2023 trading deadline. The general manager of the Pats, John Paddock, categorically denied that such a trade was possible, adding that by WHL regulations, Bedard would have to agree to the transaction and that “Connor has the final say.” Is it evident that he wants to complete his career in Regina and become a Regina Pat? The trade deadline ultimately ended with no deals.
Bedard’s Meteoric Rise Propels his Unquestionable Future Superstar of the NHL
Things started to alter for the franchise on May 8 when the Blackhawks won the Draft Lottery. Sales of season passes surged. Shirts for Bedard flew off the shelves. And the Hawks themselves started to take action to protect their talented rookie come October. During the draft week, they acquired veterans Taylor Hall and Nick Foligno in a deal with the Boston Bruins. While Foligno will provide years of seasoned leadership to a Blackhawks dressing room that has lost mainstays Duncan Keith, Patrick Kane, and Jonathan Toews over the past few offseasons, Hall is the clear choice to start the season on Bedard’s flank.
On October 10 in Pittsburgh against the Penguins, Bedard and the Blackhawks play their first regular-season game, allowing Bedard to face off against Sidney Crosby, one of his boyhood heroes.