Looking at 16-year-old WHL phenom Connor Bedard's historic season

Watch as Regina Pats forward Connor Bedard scores his 50th goal of the WHL season, setting a league record as the youngest player to reach the milestone.

For 62 regular-season games in the WHL, Regina Pats forward Connor Bedard put on an offensive showcase, his elite eye for goal-scoring and signature wrist shot on display on a nightly basis.

And for his grand finale Sunday night, he made history.

With just over six minutes left in regulation against the Moose Jaw Warriors, Bedard scored his 50th goal of the season. At 16 years, nine months, and one day old (to be exact) Bedard officially became the youngest player in WHL history to hit the 50-goal milestone in a season. He’s just the third in league history to reach 50 markers at age 16.

But the history didn’t stop there. As the clock wound down to the final minute of Sunday’s game, an eventual 7-4 victory for Regina, Bedard potted an empty-netter for goal No. 51 to bring his point total to an even 100. His five-point performance in the game was truly the cherry on top of a seriously sensational season for the North Vancouver Native. That he achieved such prolific numbers in 62 regular-season games (six fewer than most of his peers) and on a struggling Pats team makes his accomplishments all the more impressive.

And to think, he’s still got another full season of junior hockey ahead of him before he’s eligible for the NHL draft.

It's been quite the week for Bedard. Less than 24 hours after his history-securing five-point performance, Bedard was named to Canada’s under-18 world championship squad, which hits the ice later this week.  

With his historic success in mind and as we look ahead to what should be another strong showing at the U18s to close out the month, here’s a by-the-numbers look at Bedard’s success over the past year as well as some key numbers to watch as the 16-year-old phenom looks to continue his run of elite hockey.  

1 – Bedard has long been considered the top prospect to be selected No. 1 overall in the 2023 NHL Draft.

1.61 – Bedard’s points-per-game pace in 2021-22, which isn’t far off Connor McDavid’s 1.77 points-per-game during his 16-year-old season with the Erie Otters in 2013-14. Yes, in many ways, it’s unfair to make comparisons like this considering the two Connors are very different players in different situations and with different skillsets. Still, when we’ve seen such incredible junior performances, it’s hard not to make the connection and have a little fun with it.

2 – Bedard finished second in goals league-wide in the WHL this year, just one shy of Ben King of the Red Deer Rebels. (King, 19, went undrafted last year.)

3 – Before Bedard reached 100 points Sunday night, just three WHL players had ever managed the feat at age 16. He’s the first to do so this century.

4 – Bedard finished the season ranked fourth in league points and is one of just four players to hit 100 points this year. Vancouver Canucks prospect Arshdeep Bains (112 points), Bains’ Rebels linemate, Ben King (105 points), and Stars prospect Logan Stankoven of the Kamloops Blazers (104 points) finished ahead of him.

4 – In just two games of the 2022 world juniors, which was cut short due to COVID, Bedard tallied four goals. Remarkably, all four came in a single game – something no Canadian has ever done before. The quad came during a dominant 11-2 outing against Austria during round-robin play, and also made him the youngest player to ever score four goals in a single outing.

7 – When Bedard cracked the Team Canada roster at the world juniors in December, he became just the seventh player to do so at age 16. The short list of players to come before him features some pretty exceptional names: Wayne Gretzky (1978), Eric Lindros (1990), Jason Spezza (2000), Jay Bouwmeester (2000), Sidney Crosby (2004) and Connor McDavid (2014).

7 – “Exceptional” is a word that comes naturally when talking about Bedard and his skillset, and for good reason. In March 2020, at age 14, he was granted exceptional status to play in the WHL during the 2020-21 season as a 15-year-old. That made him just the seventh player to ever earn that status in the CHL and the first in the WHL. Players to earn that honour before Bedard: John Tavares (2005), Aaron Ekblad (2011), Connor McDavid (2012), Sean Day (2013), Joseph Veleno (2015) and this year's top prospect Shane Wright. Of that group, all played in the OHL except for Veleno, who played in the QMJHL.

9 – Despite Bedard's heroics, his team-leading efforts weren't quite enough to carry to the Pats into the playoffs. Regina finished ninth in the Eastern Conference Standings, which means we won't get to see what Bedard can do in the post-season.

12 – Last season as a rookie, Bedard scored a dozen goals in 15 games. He also tallied 16 assists for 28 points in the COVID-shortened season. Had he been able to play a full 68-game schedule at that scoring pace, that’s a 54-goal, 126-point campaign…

15 – Bedard first landed on the international stage a year ago, donning the maple leaf as a 15-year-old at the under-18 world championship, a whole year younger than the next youngest teammate, Shane Wright (then 16). He was the third player to suit up for Canada at the tournament in his 15-year-old season, behind John Tavares and Connor McDavid. (McDavid was 16 by the time he actually hit the ice, making Bedard technically the second 15-year-old Canadian to play at the tournament after Tavares was the first.) Bedard’s seven goals in seven games at the 2021 tournament ranked him second on the team in goals behind Shane Wright, and his 14 points tied him with Wright for the team’s scoring lead on the powerhouse Canadian squad that went on to win gold. All eyes will be on Bedard later this week as he takes centre stage as the headliner of this 2022 squad.

21 – At the 2011 under-18 world championship, a 17-year-old Nikita Kucherov set a new record for most points in a single tournament, with 21. Kucherov scored 11 goals and 10 assists in seven games. The single-tournament goals record belongs to Cole Caufield, who at 17 years old in 2019 tied the tally set first by Alex Ovechkin at age 16 in 2002. Can Bedard write himself into these history books, too? The tournament opens Friday in Germany.

24/76 – The 2021-22 campaign was a bit of a tale of two seasons for Bedard, who put up a perfectly respectable 24 points (14 goals, 10 assists) in his first 24 games before departing for the world juniors. Upon his return from the tournament, though, he really turned on the jets. Through 38 games post-WJC, Bedard set the scoreboard on fire with a whopping 76 points (37 goals, 39 assists) for a scoring pace of exactly two points per game.

45 – Bedard registered at least one point in 21 consecutive games between Feb. 2 and March 22 of this year, the league’s longest point streak this season. He averaged more than a point per game during that stretch, tallying 23 goals and 22 assists for 45 points. Including this goal...

63 – Glen Goodall’s record-setting 63 goals scored during his 16-year-old season back in 1986-87, still stands as the highest goals total by a 16-year-old in the WHL.

70 – In the QMJHL, the single-season goals record by a 16-year-old player belongs to the great Mike Bossy. Bossy put up 70 goals with Laval National in 1973-74. Sidney Crosby is the most recent QMJHLer to hit 50 – he scored 54 in 2003-04, and became the first 16-year-old to win the CHL’s scoring title.

72 – The record for most goals scored by a 16-year-old in the OHL (and, overall, in the CHL) belongs to John Tavares, who tallied 72 in 2006-07.

326 – Bedard certainly knows how to get the puck on net. His 326 shots on goal was the highest total in the WHL this year.

2005 – The year Bedard was born. Feeling old yet?

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