Connor Bedard, a top prospect for the 2023 NHL Draft, is among the 25 players that will play for Canada at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship.
The tournament will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton from Aug. 9-20.
Bedard was fourth in the Western Hockey League last season with 100 points (51 goals, 49 assists) in 62 games with Regina. The 17-year-old center (5-foot-10, 183 pounds) also led fifth-place Canada with seven points (six goals, one assist) in four games at the 2022 IIHF Under-18 World Championship.
“He’s elite hockey sense, elite skill, elite everything,” Peter Sullivan of NHL Central Scouting said. “But when he does get frustrated out there, he’s not afraid to give it back, which is a good sign. I compared him to [Hockey Hall of Famer] Marcel Dionne since he played the same way. Guys didn’t want to fool around with [Dionne] because he would go right back at them, and yet he didn’t have a lot of penalty minutes.”
Sullivan, who specializes in scouting players from the WHL, has evaluated NHL draft prospects the past 25 years with Central Scouting and is its longest-tenured member.
“Skill wise he’s not only quick but has two or three gears and it’s legit,” Sullivan said. “I mean, the most famous player that had five or six gears was Bobby Orr, and this is what [Bedard] has. He’s got a gear that can go from 1-to-60 in two seconds; he’s that special a player.”
Bedard was the seventh 16-year-old to be selected to play for Canada at the IIHF World Junior Championship when he was named to the team for the 2022 tournament when it originally was held in December. He joined Wayne Gretzky (1978), Eric Lindros (1989), Jason Spezza (2000), Jay Bouwmeester (2000), Sidney Crosby (2004) and Connor McDavid (2014) on that list. In two games, Bedard had five points (four goals, one assist), including a hat trick in an 11-2 win against Austria. He was the first 16-year-old to score a hat trick for Canada at the WJC since Gretzky did so twice in 1977.
The 2022 tournament was postponed after four days of play when the United States, Czechia and Russia each had to forfeit a preliminary-round game after players tested positive for COVID-19. Results from the December games will not be counted when the tournament restarts.
Bedard is one of 16 players returning for Canada from the December tournament. Among that group is Anaheim Ducks forward prospect Mason McTavish, who had five points (two goals, three assists) in two games in December. McTavish was named captain for the tournament Tuesday. Forward Kent Johnson (Columbus Blue Jackets) and defenseman Donovan Sebrango (Detroit Red Wings) were named alternate captains
Canada will open preliminary-round play in Group A against Latvia on Aug. 10 (6 p.m. ET). It also will play Slovakia on Aug. 11 (6 p.m. ET), Czechia on Aug. 13 (6 p.m. ET), and Finland on Aug. 15 (6 p.m. ET).
The United States, Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and Austria will play in Group B.
All games in the 2022 WJC will be televised on NHL Network in the United States.
CANADA WORLD JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIP ROSTER
DEFENSEMEN: Lukas Cormier, Charlottetown, QMJHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Daemon Hunt, Moose Jaw, WHL (Minnesota Wild); Carson Lambos, Winnipeg, WHL (Minnesota Wild); Ryan O’Rourke, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL (Minnesota Wild); Donovan Sebrango, Grand Rapids, AHL (Detroit Red Wings); Ronan Seeley, Everett, WHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Jack Thompson, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL (Tampa Bay Lightning); Olen Zellweger, Everett, WHL (Anaheim Ducks)
FORWARDS: Connor Bedard, Regina, WHL (2023 draft eligible); William Cuylle, Windsor, OHL (New York Rangers); Elliot Desnoyers, Halifax, QMJHL (Philadelphia Flyers); William Dufour, Saint John, QMJHL (New York Islanders); Tyson Foerster, Barrie, OHL (Philadelphia Flyers); Nathan Gaucher, Quebec, QMJHL (Anaheim Ducks); Ridly Greig, Brandon, WHL (Ottawa Senators); Kent Johnson, Columbus Blue Jackets; Riley Kidney, Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL (Montreal Canadiens); Mason McTavish, Hamilton, OHL (Anaheim Ducks); Zack Ostapchuk, Vancouver, WHL (Ottawa Senators); Brennan Othmann, Flint, OHL (New York Rangers); Joshua Roy, Sherbrooke, QMJHL (Montreal Canadiens); Logan Stankoven, Kamloops, WHL (Dallas Stars)