Regina Pats phenom Bedard makes history at CHL Awards
KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Connor Bedard made Canadian Hockey League history on Saturday.
The presumed No. 1 pick of this year's NHL entry draft won the CHL Top Prospect, Top Scorer, and David Branch Player of the Year awards. It's the first time since the Top Scorer award was introduced in 1994 that a player has won all three in a single season.
The 17-year-old was also the first to claim three trophies at the CHL Awards since Edmonton Oilers star — then with the Erie Otters — Connor McDavid won the Player of the Year, Top Prospect and Scholastic Player of the Year awards in 2015.
"It's pretty exciting, for sure," the North Vancouver, B.C. native said. "There's been a lot of cool names in the past that have won this award (player of the year) and for me, I think it's a team celebration as well.
"There's always a lot of people that you're playing with that are helping you and I think that's an exciting part about it."
Bedard — set to turn 18 years old on July 17 — had 143 points (71 goals, 72 assists) in 57 regular-season games starring for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League.
He had another 10 goals and 10 assists in seven games in the Pats' first-round post-season loss to the Saskatoon Blades. He became the first WHL player since 2012 to score 10 or more goals in a single playoff series.
Former Calgary Flames and Canadian men's national team star Jarome Iginla presented Bedard with the Player of the Year award.
"That's obviously a huge name, a legend in hockey," Bedard said. "For me to get to meet him today and to have him present that award was pretty special, just being a fan of his and growing up watching him … it's awesome."
Bedard, who has also earned a number of accolades starring for the Canadian world junior team, including two gold medals, is now preparing for the NHL draft which takes place June 28-29 in Nashville, Tenn.
"I'm still young and have a lot I wanna do in my hockey career," he said when asked of his journey. "But like I said, I've just been pretty fortunate to be able to play in some of these tournaments and leagues and experience these things that I've gotten to experience.
"It's been a hell of a ride so far and hopefully it continues."
Olen Zellweger of the Kamloops Blazers took home the CHL Defenceman of the Year award.
Nominated alongside Pavel Mintyukov of the Ottawa 67's and Tristan Luneau of the Gatineau Olympiques, it was the first time an NHL team had three of its prospects up for the honour. Each player was drafted by the Anaheim Ducks between 2021 and 2022.
"I know them pretty well so far from training camp and development camp," Zellweger said. "They're great people, as well as players. It's exciting to have other players there in that competition when we go to camp."
"It's a huge honour," Zellweger added. "A lot of work goes into it … it's just a step in the right direction for the future."
Nathan Darveau of the Victoriaville Tigres claimed the Goaltender of the Year award, Dave Cameron of the Ottawa 67's won the Brian Kilrea Coach of the Year award and Maxim Massé of the Chicoutimi Saguenéens earned Rookie of the Year honours.
Evan Vierling of the Barrie Colts grabbed Sportsman Player of the Year, Colby Barlow of the Owen Sound Attack earned Scholastic Player of the Year and Dalyn Wakely of the North Bay Battalion was named Humanitarian of the Year.
The nominees were determined by the winner of the corresponding award presented in each member league: the WHL, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 3, 2023.