In case you don’t already know, the first overall pick in the 2023 NHL draft is expected to be 17-year-old centerman Connor Bedard, who has dominated the WHL for the second straight year. 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 contender.
Who does a player with so much talent and potential look up to in the NHL?
According to Sportsnet Randip JandaNew York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal was a role model for Connor Bedard.
“Connor Bedard says he texted Mat Barzal asking him about the NHL draft experience,” Janda said in a Twitter post Thursday. “The Islanders star served as a role model for Bedard.”
On Monday, ahead of the New York Islanders’ 3-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, Mathew Barzal opened up about his relationship with fellow Vancouver native Connor Bedard while they skated together over the summer.
“He’s such a great kid. He always makes me laugh,” said Barzal. “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.”
Although Barzal has been with Bedard for nearly eight years, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t learned a thing or two from their sessions on the ice.
“He’s the new player age where he just has all the tools. It’s fun to literally learn from him, like learning new tricks and skills and just being creative on the ice,” said Barzal. “He will be a special player. He will be a goalscorer in this league for a long time to come.”
“Everything seems easy with him. Just beat goalkeepers like it’s nothing.”
Barzal told a story about the first impression Bedard made when he was just 14 years old:
“Actually, it’s funny. He was probably no older than 12. He was wearing a cage and skates that were a bit too big. He was out there skating with us. I was maybe 20 or I don’t know how old, but he was out there with the NHL boys and it was fun. We said, ‘Who is this kid?’ Then, two years later, he shoots harder than all of us. He dangles NHL defenders. He’s an incredible talent.”
The New York Islanders shouldn’t be in contention for Bedard when the 2022-23 season is over. But Islanders fans should be very proud to know that their forward Mathew Barzal has set the example and served as a mentor to a player who is likely to take the NHL by storm very soon.
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