If you don’t know by now, the first overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft is expected to be 17-year-old centerman Connor Bedard, who dominated in the WHL for a second-straight season. In his last 84 games with the Regina Pats, the Vancouver native has 70 goals and 74 assists (144 points). Some teams may already be tanking to get their hands on this elite prospect.
Who does a player with that much talent and potential look up to in the NHL?
“Connor Bedard says he’s been texting and picking the brain of Mat Barzal about the NHL Draft experience,” Janda said in a Twitter post on Thursday. “The Islanders star has served as a role model for Bedard.”
On Monday, before the New York Islanders 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mathew Barzal spoke on his relationship with fellow Vancouver native Connor Bedard as they skate together in the summertime.
“He’s such a great kid. He always makes me laugh,” Barzal said. “I text him and stuff after big games just to see how he’s doing, and I love being on the ice with him in the summer.”
Despite having close to eight years on Bedard, that doesn’t mean Barzal hasn’t learned a thing or two from their on-ice sessions.
“He’s the new age of player where he’s just got all the tools. It’s fun, literally learning from him, like learning new tricks and skills and just creative play on the ice,” Barzal said. “He’s going to be a special player. He’s going to be a goal scorer in this league for a long time.”
“He makes everything look really easy. Just beats goalies like it’s nothing.”
Barzal shared a story about the first impression Bedard made back when he was just 14 years old:
“It’s actually funny. He was probably, like, he couldn’t have been older than 12. He had a cage on and skates that were a little too big. He was out there skating with us. I was like 20, maybe, or I don’t know how old, but he was out there with the NHL guys, and it was funny. We were like, ‘Who’s this kid?’ Then, two years later, he’s shooting harder than all of us. He’s dangling NHL defensemen. He’s an incredible talent.”
The New York Islanders, when the 2022-23 season is all said and done, should not be in the running for Bedard. But Islanders fans should take great pride in knowing that their start forward, Mathew Barzal, has been leading by example and has served as a mentor for a player that is likely to take the NHL by storm very soon.
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