ST. PAUL, Minn. — Connor Bedard made his unofficial Chicago Blackhawks debut on Saturday night at the 2023 Tom Kurvers Prospect Showcase, and it went about as expected. He stole the headlines and lived up to the No. 1 overall selection hype, as if there was any doubt he wouldn't.
After a scoreless first period, Bedard found the back of the net once in the second period and twice in the third to complete the hat trick as the Blackhawks rolled past the St. Louis Blues 5-0 at TRIA Rink in Minnesota. His lethal shot and playmaking ability was on full display.
"Looked alright," Rockford IceHogs head coach Anders Sorensen joked following the win. "It's special, for sure. He looked dangerous every time he was on the ice."
Bedard downplayed the significance of his performance, and more-so felt appreciative to be playing hockey again after a busy offseason with a million off-ice obligations leading up to the NHL Draft and since then. He was itching to play, and looked like a dog unleashed.
"It was fun finally playing a game," Bedard said. "It was really good pace out there, physical, and we all had fun. It's good to get that first one in and go from there."
All three Bedard goals were pretty, but the second one was a thing of beauty. He danced around a couple of Blues, then snapped one far side past the goaltender.
"I saw where it went," Bedard smiled when asked what he saw on that goal. "I saw a little far side, and it was kind of late on the power play, so I thought I'd go for it. Lucky it went in."
Bedard's teammates were both impressed but also not surprised.
"Loved him," said Wyatt Kaiser, who is serving as the team captain for the weekend. "He's a playmaker. He makes a difference in the game."
"I mean, at this point, it doesn't shock me," said Drew Commesso, who pitched a shutout in his unofficial team debut.
It's not a shock to see Bedard thrive in a game like that. He put up historic numbers at the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship for Team Canada against some of the best players his age. The biggest question is where he'll stack up against the top players in the world when he makes his NHL debut.
Bedard's goals will get the attention, but he created chances all night. The coaching staff had him at 11 shots for the game, and his attempts surely were more than that.
"I had a lot of shots," Bedard said. "Obviously it's frustrating when it doesn't go in, but getting looks and it was nice to see them go in. But all those were set up: there were good screens and good plays made by other guys. It's not all on me."
Ah, there's the humble kid that makes him an organization's dream. On the ice, Bedard was in his element again and he delivered for a sold-out Minnesota crowd that came to see No. 98 play.
"It doesn't mean too much, but it's nice to play games," Bedard said. "It was so much fun being with the guys, getting here, music is playing and you just have that mojo going in. That was the best part, getting back into it. It was real competitive so it's fun."