LAS VEGAS — Connor Bedard still isn’t ready to admit what the rest of the hockey world has long assumed: that he’ll be selected No. 1 overall by the Chicago Blackhawks in this month’s NHL draft.
“If they decide to take me, that would be unbelievable,” the 17-year-old forward told reporters Monday ahead of Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final. “But we’ll see what happens.”
Bedard said he will have 30 guests — a mix of family, friends and coaches — with him for the event in Nashville.
The NHL invited Bedard and other top prospects to Las Vegas to take in the Stanley Cup Final experience. They toured the Golden Knights‘ practice facility in the morning — Bedard said he was impressed by just how many sticks players had outside the locker room.
He also met players from both the Golden Knights and Florida Panthers, and said the overwhelming piece of advice was to “enjoy the moment.”
Bedard said he’s learning to get used to the spotlight.
“It’s definitely something you’ve got to get used to; I’m still obviously a kid,” Bedard said. “There’s a lot of outside noise surrounding myself and a lot of these guys. For me, I try to look at it as a positive. I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of these experiences … World Juniors and being here, these are things that not everybody gets to do. So I’m really grateful for that.”
Bedard said it was his first time in Las Vegas, and he was soaking in the city’s unique flavor.
“Getting off at the airport and seeing the slot machines, I’ve never really seen that before,” he said.
Bedard is coming off one of the greatest junior hockey careers of all time, including scoring 143 points (71 goals, 72 assists) in 57 regular-season games this season for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. The 5-foot-10 centers swept the CHL’s end-of-season awards, being named the Top Prospect, Top Sorer and David Branch Player of the Year; it’s the first time a player has taken home all three in a single season.
Up next for Bedard is a trip to Buffalo for the NHL scouting combine, which begins Wednesday.
Amid hype, Connor Bedard views outside noise ‘as a positive’