Craig’s List: Bedard rises to generational status
If there was any doubt about Connor Bedard as the consensus No. 1 prospect available in the 2023 NHL Draft, those concerns were shattered after a legendary performance at the World Junior Championship.
With nine goals and 23 points in seven games, Bedard broke Eric Lindros’ 30-year-old record for points by a Canadian in the tournament as he took home MVP and best forward honours for his second career gold at the event. It was enough for TSN’s Director of Scouting Craig Button to anoint Bedard as a generational talent.
“It seems that Connor Bedard has his detractors despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary that there should be no detractors,” said Button. “They said Wayne Gretzky didn't skate fast enough, the shot wasn't very good, didn't think he was very big, thought that pro hockey would eat him up. I've heard similar things now about Bedard.
“The minute Connor Bedard started in the Western Hockey League, and every minute thereafter, right up until last night, all he has done is dominate. He's obliterated everything. U18, World Junior, Western Hockey League. If Connor Bedard is to be doubted, every other single player in this draft deserves to be doubted to a far greater extent.”
Button's Generational Players
|Player||First NHL Team||First Year|
Bedard returned to the Regina Pats lineup on Sunday and went off for a four-goal, six-point performance against the Calgary Hitmen.
Remaining at No. 2 and 3 on Button’s list are University of Michigan’s Adam Fantilli and Orebro’s Leo Carlsson. Both natural centres, they shifted to the wing on their respective teams at the World Juniors. Fantilli had two goals and five points as Canada captured gold while Carlsson had three goals and six points as Sweden finished fourth.
“Do I think their potential is far greater than what they may have shown in the World Juniors? Absolutely,” said Button. “But I thought for what they were asked to do in playing out of position, I thought their performances were very admirable.”
One player who used the World Juniors to improve his draft stock dramatically is Swedish defenceman Axel Sandin-Pellikka, jumping from No. 27 to No. 10 on Button’s list. Sandin-Pellikka led Sweden in ice time at the World Juniors, averaging 19:54 TOI.
Joining Sandin-Pellikka as a big riser is fellow Swedish defenceman Tom Willander, who leaps into the No. 15 spot from 26. Willander did not make the Swedish World Juniors roster but has four goals and 16 points in 25 games with Rogle BK J20.
“I think [they] are the two best defencemen in the draft,” said Button. “The combination of skating, brains, playmaking ability, poise, they got it.
“Obviously, if I would have had reason to believe that earlier I would have had them higher, but those two kids are big time difference-makers.”
Also leaping into the top 10 for the first time is Kelowna Rockets forward Andrew Cristall, who continues his climb, rising to No. 8 from No. 16 in November’s ranking.
Cristall is second in WHL scoring with 26 goals and 62 points in 36 games. Button compares him to a current Montreal Canadien.
“Every time I watch him, all I know is if I'm not sure where the puck is. I just look for him because it's going to be either on his stick or near him, or about to be on his stick,” said Button.
“Andrew Cristall is like Nick Suzuki. Quietly goes about the game, quietly plays and just produces. No fanfare, no flash and dash.”
The third-leading WHL scorer is Winnipeg ICE winger Zach Benson, who is at No. 9 on Button’s list with 23 goals and 54 points in 33 games.
“To me, he's got that Patrick Kane type of game,” Button said of Benson. “In, out, quick, fast. Hold the puck, make a play. You think you got him and then you don't.”
Cristall and Benson are the smallest players Button has in the first round with both players standing at around 5-foot-9.
“All they do is excel,” said Button. “You can look at the height of a player, but I think that to play in the NHL and be a real, real good player you have to have some standout qualities. I think Cristall has them. Benson has them.”
The top five WHL scoring leaders are all draft eligible, with a pair of Prince George Cougars forwards, Koehn Ziemmer (No. 21 on Craig’s List) and Riley Heidt (No. 17), in fourth and fifth respectively.
Craig's List - January 10
|1||Connor Bedard||Regina (WHL)||C||5'9 ¾||183||29||31||70|
|2||Adam Fantilli||Michigan (NCAA)||C||6'2||195||16||11||26|
|3||Leo Carlsson||Örebro (SHL)||C||6'3||198||25||3||14|
|4||Eduard Sale||Brno (CZE)||LW||6'2||174||26||3||6|
|5||Matvei Michkov||St. Petersburg (KHL)||RW||5'10||172||12||10||14|
|6||Will Smith||USA NTDP (USHL)||C||5'11 ¾||178||30||22||54|
|7||Colby Barlow||Owen Sound (OHL)||LW||6'0 ¼||193||33||25||46|
|8||Andrew Cristall||Kelowna (WHL)||LW/RW||5'9 ½||167||36||26||62|
|9||Zach Benson||Winnipeg (WHL)||LW||5'9||160||33||23||54|
|10||Axel Sandin-Pellikka||Skelleftea (SWE J20)||D||5'10 ¾||176||20||13||26|
|11||Brayden Yager||Moose Jaw (WHL)||C||5'10 ½||162||38||18||48|
|12||Ethan Gauthier||Sherbrooke (QMJHL)||C||5'11 ¼||176||38||16||45|
|13||Ryan Leonard||USA NTDP (USHL)||RW||5'11 ½||190||28||22||42|
|14||Gabe Perreault||USA NTDP (USHL)||LW||5'10 ¾||165||33||26||59|
|15||Tom Willander||Rogle (SWE J20)||D||6'1 ¼||180||25||4||16|
|16||Oliver Moore||USA NTDP (USHL)||C||5'11||188||31||18||41|
|17||Riley Heidt||Prince George (WHL)||C||5'10 ½||182||36||18||52|
|18||Nate Danielson||Brandon (WHL)||C||6'1 ¼||185||38||20||49|
|19||Dalibor Dvorsky||AIK (SWE-Als)||C||6'1||201||21||4||8|
|20||Mikhail Gulyayev||Omsk (MHL)||D||5'11||172||12||1||17|
|21||Koehn Ziemmer||Prince George (WHL)||RW||6'0 ¼||204||36||20||52|
|22||Samuel Honzek||Vancouver (WHL)||LW||6'3 ½||186||31||17||43|
|23||Kasper Halttunen||HIFK (SM Liiga)||RW||6'2 ¾||207||10||9||15|
|24||Matthew Wood||Connecticut (NCAA)||RW||6'3 ½||193||22||8||17|
|25||Lukas Dragicevic||Tri-City (WHL)||D||6'1||192||36||9||46|
|26||Etienne Morin||Moncton (QMJHL)||D||5'11 ¾||181||37||14||42|
|27||Noah Dower-Nilsson||Frölunda (SWE J20)||LW||6'0||174||24||23||40|
|28||Mathieu Cataford||Halifax (QMJHL)||C/RW||5'10 ¾||188||37||21||48|
|29||Calum Ritchie||Oshawa (OHL)||C/RW||6'1 ¾||187||36||12||31|
|30||Oliver Bonk||London (OHL)||D||6'2||174||36||8||25|
|31||Bradley Nadeau||Penticton (BCHL)||RW/LW||5'10||161||33||27||64|
|32||Cameron Allen||Guelph (OHL)||D||6'0||194||33||4||16|
|33||Gracyn Sawchyn||Seattle (WHL)||C||5'11||157||35||13||40|
|34||Roman Kantserov||Magnitogorsk (MHL)||RW||5'9||176||36||20||42|
|35||David Reinbacher||Kloten (SUI)||D||6'2||185||29||2||14|
|36||Quentin Musty||Sudbury (OHL)||C/LW||6'1 ¾||200||32||12||48|
|37||Jesse Kiiskanen||Pelicans (SM Liiga Jr)||RW||5'10 ¾||178||21||13||32|
|38||Danny Nelson||USA NTDP (USHL)||LW||6'3||202||32||11||26|
|39||Tanner Moldendyk||Saskatoon (WHL)||D||5'10 ¾||184||34||4||21|
|40||Emil Jarventie||Ilves (SM Liiga)||LW||5'9 ½||167||21||8||19|
|41||Lenni Hameenaho||Pori (SM Liiga)||RW||5'11 ½||173||28||4||13|
|42||Otto Stenberg||Frölunda (SWE J20)||LW||5'11 ¼||180||20||6||15|
|43||Jason Shaugabay||Warroad High (USHS)||RW||5'9 ¼||153||11||12||37|
|44||Charlie Stramel||Wisconsin (NCAA)||C/RW||6'3||212||19||4||7|
|45||Brad Gardiner||Ottawa (OHL)||C||6'0 ½||178||36||16||26|
|46||Caden Price||Kelowna (WHL)||D||6'0 ¼||186||36||5||22|
|47||Beau Akey||Barrie (OHL)||D||5'11 ½||170||33||6||28|
|48||Kalan Lind||Red Deer (WHL)||LW||6'0 ¼||158||33||9||30|
|49||Hunter Brzustewicz||Kitchener (OHL)||D||5'11 ¼||188||34||3||30|
|50||Carson Bjarnason||Brandon (WHL)||G||6'3||186||28||2.92||.910|
|51||Daniil But||Yaroslavl (MHL)||LW||6'5||203||20||13||22|
|52||Michael Hrabal||Omaha (USHL)||G||6'6 ¼||209||20||3.06||.903|
|53||Anton Wahlberg||Malmo (SWE J20)||C/LW||6'3 ¼||194||25||8||18|
|54||Tyler Peddle||Drummondville (QMJHL)||LW||6'0 ½||195||39||18||29|
|55||Trey Augustine||USA NTDP (USHL)||G||6'1||183||14||2.10||.930|
|56||Jordan Tourigny||Shawinigan (QMJHL)||D||5'10 ½||165||40||5||27|
|57||Maxim Strabak||Sioux Falls (USHL)||D||6'1 ½||205||23||3||13|
|58||Andrew Strathman||Tri-City (USHL)||D||5'10||190||22||1||20|
|59||Theo Lindstein||Brynäs (SWE J20)||D||6'0 ½||180||12||2||7|
|60||Noel Nordh||Brynäs (SWE J20)||LW||6'1 ½||196||18||5||11|
|61||Coulson Pitre||Flint (OHL)||RW||6'0 ½||172||33||13||30|
|62||Carson Rehkopf||Kitchener (OHL)||LW||6'1 ¼||195||34||18||33|
|63||Connor Levis||Kamloops (WHL)||C||6'1 ½||189||36||10||31|
|64||Ethan Miedema||Windsor (OHL)||LW||6'3 ¾||206||36||11||31|