Hockey fans are already looking forward to the start of next season with the 2023 NHL Draft that’s slated to take place on June 28 at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville.
For only the second time in team history, the Chicago Blackhawks will select the No. 1 overall pick after winning the top spot in last month’s NHL Draft Lottery. The Blackhawks have only had the first pick once and that was in 2007 when the team selected Patrick Kane, who helped Chicago win three Stanley Cups. Sixteen years later, the Blackhawks will most likely add highly-touted prospect Connor Bedard to their 2023-24 roster.
Bedard has had a busy few weeks. Earlier this month, he was one of 106 prospects invited to take part in this year’s NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo. He was also recognized as the most outstanding player in Canadian Major Junior Hockey and given the CHL David Branch Player of the Year Award. This past season, Bedard was ranked the No. 1 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting ahead of draft after finishing first in points in the WHL this season with 143 points (71 goals and 72 assists) in 57 games.
Bedard, who turns 18 on July 17, has been called a generational talent who many have already compared to Connor McDavid. Collectors will have plenty Bedard cards to chase later this year. His Young Guns card and other Upper Deck rookies are likely to turn next season’s releases into some of the most-sought after products in the entire hobby.
For now, there are several options out there for those looking to collect cards of the budding center, especially for those who like junior league and national team cards. These cards don’t generally get hobby love, but they are fun to collect and do give people a chance to get their hands on cards of Bedard before he makes his professional debut.
Here are five Connor Bedard cards to collect ahead of this year’s draft:
2020-21 Regina Pats team issue
Bedard’s first card ever is a team-issue Regina Pats minor league card from the 2020-21 Western Hockey League season. Part of a 26-limited-edition set, this regional release (it was limited to Regina in the Province of Saskatchewan) is hard to come by, even on eBay, and the ones that are out there can go for hundreds. Versions in high grades can even sell for thousands.
2021 Upper Deck Team Canada Juniors Patch Autographs #76
Numbered to just 25, this is the rarest autograph/patch card that’s part of the 2021 Team Canada Juniors set. The card features Bedard’s autograph and game-worn patch, making this a must for Team Canada collectors. In 2021, Bedard played for Canada Under-18 team at the 2021 IIHF World U18 Championships, winning a gold medal and tying for second in points.
2021 Upper Deck Team Canada Juniors Gold Spectrum Autographs #117
There is another Team Canada card featuring Bedard’s signature – albeit a sticker auto – that collectors can get their hands on. Like many junior players, Bedard has played for his country on several occasions. Also in 2021, Bedard became just the seventh 16 year old to be chosen to play for Canada at the 2022 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships. He won gold at that tournament. A year later, he again helped Canada win gold and named MVP in the process.
2021-22 Upper Deck CHL Star Rookie #401
Bedard makes an appearance in Upper Deck’s CHL set during a season where he recorded 100 points (51 goals and 49 assist) in 62 games. In doing so, Bedard, who finished the season fourth in overall points, became the youngest player ever to score 50 or more goals in a season.
2021-22 UD CHL First Draft #FD-1
The insert card features Bedard in a Pats uniform with a words “First Draft” splashed across the top. It is part of a 20-card subset. The base card can be found in every eight packs, but there are parallels. The red versions are #/99 and white are even rarer #/5.
Clemente Lisi is a lifelong Rangers fan who first started collecting cards in 1986. He collects both vintage and modern with a focus on rookie cards. Follow him on Twitter @ClementeLisi.