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Flyers Daily News: Rebuild Really Could Have Used Bedard

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Connor Bedard
Connor Bedard

The Flyers took their lottery shot and stayed put. They started at No. 7 and that’s where they stayed. So, the rebuild begins.

The Flyers’ rebuild would have taken on an enormous jump start had they defied the long odds (6.5 percent) and won Monday’s draft lottery. Because a true star is one thing the Flyers lack.

I thought about this the other day: If the Flyers had a dynamic first line of players not currently on the roster, the rest of their forwards would slot nicely into the second and third lines.

Problem solved.

Maybe one day Cutter Gauthier will be on that first line with this year’s top pick and Owen Tippett.

Until then, no Connor Bedard for the Flyers — or for any other team except the lottery-winning Blackhawks. Chicago rejoiced in acts of civil obedience that include huge merchandise purchases and ticket sales.

Who is Connor Bedard?

Even casual hockey fans have heard of Bedard. He is an unimposing 17-year-old from North Vancouver, British Columbia. He won’t turn 18 until July 17. He is not hulking and powerful like Eric Lindros.

Bedard is 5-foot-10 and 185 pounds, a right-handed-shooting center for the Regina Pats. Bedard plays in the Western Hockey League, Canada’s most physical and talented junior league.

The most common description for Bedard is “generational talent.” That’s the same label given to Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Eric Lindros, Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid.

 Scouting report

Bedard brings a devastating, quick-release wrist shot along with superior skating ability and next-level instincts.

Bedard was granted “exceptional status” so he could play in the WHL at an early age. Others with such status were John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad and Shane Wright.

“Bedard has the elite skills and attributes that elite NHL players have, and it’s the precision in which he reads the play, is always in the right place and how he executes and capitalizes on plays,” NHL Central Scouting vice president Dan Marr recently told NHL.com.

“What places him in that Connor McDavid-special category is his natural presence of mind and instincts that allow him to channel all these attributes to dominate when the opportunity is there and when it’s needed most by his team.”

Bedard is the unanimous top prospect, earning that lofty position from everyone who ranks hockey players.

“He reminds me so much of Steve Yzerman because he’s got what I call the four corners of excellence,” TSN director of scouting and NHL analyst Craig Button told NHL.com.

“He’s got great hockey sense. He sees what’s facing him and is able to adjust and adapt. He’s an outstanding skater. He’s got magnificent hands and the ability to operate in tight spaces, and he’s got NHL scoring ability.

“He reminds me of Steve Yzerman in this regard too: He’s got a killer instinct. Steve had a steely determination to find a way to be successful and to do whatever it took to win. Connor, to me, has that same type of personality.”

Yzerman is fine company for any hockey player. Yzerman was a first-ballot Hall of Famer and won three Stanley Cups in Detroit.

 “If I’m picked No. 1, it’d be awesome,” Bedard told NHL.com. “I think whether you get drafted first or whatever round, it’s a dream come true.

“If I get that honor, it’d be unreal, I’d be super grateful to the people who have helped me with that. For now, I’m just kind of focusing on what I can do to improve myself as a player. It’d be unbelievable to go No. 1 but we’ll see what happens.”

This past season, Bedard scored the most points in the WHL. He had 71 goals and 72 assists for 143 points in only 57 games. The award he won for scoring the most points? The Bobby Clarke Trophy.

Flyers in case you missed it:

Cutter Gauthier scored in Team USA’s opener and Scott Laughton scored in Canada’s opening rout.

Flyers boss Dan Hilferty explains how the team decided to hire Keith Jones and promote Danny Briere.

Around the National Hockey Network:

Washington Hockey Now: In the likely event Evgeny Kuznetsov doesn’t return to the Capitals, where are possible landing spots?

Florida Hockey Now: Want to buy tickets to see the Carolina Hurricanes host the Florida Panthers? Well, your credit card billing address better be from North Carolina, South Carolina and some parts of southern Virginia.

Chicago Hockey Now: Blackhawks fans hoping for a reunion with Patrick Kane are going to be disappointed.

Last night’s result:

Jordan Eberle scored two goals as the Dave Hakstol-coached Seattle Kraken won Game 6 over the Dallas Stars, 6-3. Game 7 is at 8 p.m. Monday at Dallas and will be broadcast by ESPN.

Tonight’s playoff game:

Connor McDavid’s Oilers face a must-win Game 6 against the visiting Golden Knights. Faceoff is 10 on ESPN.

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