Connor Bedard will not be a member of the Vancouver Canucks. At least, not yet.
The Canucks had the lowest odds of winning the draft lottery of all the teams eligible to get the first-overall pick, with just a 3.0% chance. With that in mind and the Canucks’ history of futility at the draft lottery, it comes as no surprise that they didn’t win.
Two teams had their numbers drawn by the NHL behind closed doors to determine the top picks in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. Neither of those teams were the Canucks, who will remain where they are in the draft order at 11th. Instead, the Chicago Blackhawks, who had the third-best odds, moved up to the top pick. Barring the most absurd trade in NHL history, the Canucks will not be picking first overall.
Bedard is all but certain to be the first-overall pick at the draft and for good reason. He has sublime skill, with some calling him a “hockey genius” thanks to his ability to beat opponents in seemingly uncountable ways. He has put up unreal numbers in the WHL over the past three seasons — he’s over two points per game with 134 goals and 137 assists in 134 games.
This past season — his draft year — Bedard dominated the WHL with a lacklustre Regina Pats team, putting up 71 goals and 143 points in just 57 games. In the playoffs, he racked up 10 goals and 20 points in 7 games.
At the 2023 World Juniors, Bedard led the tournament in scoring by a whopping nine points with 9 goals and 23 points in 7 games. Keep in mind, that’s a tournament typically dominated by 19-year-olds and Bedard doesn’t even turn 18 until July.
Bedard is arguably the best prospect since Connor McDavid and has the potential to challenge McDavid as the best player in the NHL sometime in the future.
He’s also a diehard Canucks fan.
Bedard was born and raised in North Vancouver and has been cheering for the Canucks for as long as he can remember. He still cheers for them to this day, even if it’s hard to catch every game while he himself is playing.
“It’s hard to go wrong with the Sedins,” said Bedard when asked about his favourite player growing up. “Growing up, when I was six until eight or nine, we were really good with the Cup run. That was exciting to watch. I was there the game that sent them to the Finals, actually.”
That interview came long enough ago that when Bedard named his current favourite Canuck, he went with Tyler Motte.
“He’s so good,” said Bedard.
You can tell Bedard is a delusional Canucks fan — as most diehard Canucks fans are — because when he was asked who would win the 2023 Stanley Cup at the start of the 2022-23 season, he didn’t hesitate: “The Vancouver Canucks. Easy choice!”
So, even though the Canucks didn’t win the draft lottery, fans can hold out hope that someday Bedard might want to return home to the team he grew up supporting. Maybe someday Bedard will sign a free-agent contract with the Canucks and skate in the royal blue and kelly green — or whatever colours the Canucks will be wearing at that far-off point in the future.
Maybe Bedard will be a Canuck at some point in the future. But it won’t be next season.