Craig Button, a former NHL general manager and scout, compared Bedard to Steve Yzerman, a Hall of Famer who captained the Detroit Red Wings and won three Stanley Cups. “Connor has all the skills, but what impresses me is his intensity, like Stevie Y, killer instinct,” said Button, who oversees drafting and junior hockey for the TSN network in Canada.
Such conversations can easily turn a 16-year-old’s head, but Bedard seems to be used to it. He’s heard it since at least the age of 12, when he first started skating with NHL players in off-season practice. “I was skating with them one summer and I was that annoying little kid,” he said. “When I was 14 I skated with them all the time, almost every day they had ice.”
Soon, Vancouver pros like Matthew Barzal of the New York Islanders and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins of Edmonton, who won the first overall pick in 2011, were writing to Bedard, gathering players for practice and scrimmage. Those sessions gave Bedard a sense of skill and speed in the NHL, but the business side of the league, especially pre-draft interviews, strains many talented teenagers.
So, Newport Sports Management, representing Bedard, arranged for their client to interview three NHL general managers: Don Sweeney of the Boston Bruins, Kyle Davidson of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Yzerman, now working in the Red Wings front office. .
For Bedard, the most intense was the one-on-one interview with Yzerman. “We talked for 45 minutes and he asked a lot of questions,” Bedard said. “Eventually it probably became more like a conversation than an interview. I asked him some questions and he gave me some tips about the game and the league.”