Welcome Connor Bedard to the NHL
It seems the “Can’t Miss – Generational Talent” talk may be closer to reality than hype
For most making their NHL debut, it’s the thrill of a lifetime. They appear nervous, with the legs of a newborn fawn. The face is of steel while the body tries to catch up to the magnitude of the moment. For Connor Bedard, it was a beautiful blend of everything aforementioned.
Bedard made his highly anticipated NHL debut last Tuesday night, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania against arguably the greatest player of the hockey generation above him, Sidney Crosby. Even the referee, Kelly Sutherland, understood how mammoth the moment was for the hockey world – he welcomed Sid back for another season while subsequently offering a warm welcome to the NHL in Bedard’s direction.
The game didn’t play out as any fan would’ve expected. Chicago won by a final score of 4-2, while Connor Bedard tallied an assist and 5 shots on goal. But this was just the beginning of what would be a majestic first two NHL games for the North Vancouver, British Columbia native. The following evening at TD Garden in Boston, amongst a ravenous Bruins’ crowd that suffered a humbling first round Stanley Cup Playoff exit at the hands of the Florida Panthers last season, Bedard tucked in an absolute peach of a wrap around goal. At 18 years and 86 days old, he’d finally tallied his first NHL geno.
This Year’s NHL Draft class isn’t limited to Chicago though – Adam Fantilli is looking pretty good too
Connor Bedard isn’t the only greenhorn making headlines these days, contrary to popular belief. Adam Fantilli has quietly been asserting himself into the conversation in Columbus. Despite not scoring a goal yet, Fantilli had an assist on his 3rd NHL shift in an opening night defeat to the Philadelphia Flyers. Last year’s Hobey Baker winner turned 19 on his opening night, and did not disappoint the fanbase. He’s at a -1 through his first 3 career games, and hasn’t gotten on the
scoresheet since his first, but big things are on the horizon for the young man from Nobleton, Ontario.
The only other 2023 NHL Draft selection to have debuted thus far now resides in the Labatt Blue capital of America, home of the chicken wing, Buffalo, New York. Zach Benson has quietly been playing well for the Sabres. The team has stumbled out of the gate, starting off 1-2-0 with a 14 goal differential, but Benson has been a key cog in their recent success. His 2 apples in 3 career games proves he can produce at this level, even in a miniscule sample size.The pride of Chilliwack, British Columbia has been getting in on the forecheck and taking the game at his opponents through the first week of the season. As a Sabres admirer and sympathizer, I truly hope this kid pans out and helps break the longest playoff drought in the NHL.
Through the first 10 combined games of their respective careers, these newbies have amassed 6 points (1 G, 5 A) and have provided astounding levels of maturity for all being 19 and under. What did your typical Tuesday night look like at that age? I bet it wasn’t as stressful or as lucrative as theirs. Cheers to the NHL Draft class of 2023 – we can’t wait to see what you got.
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