Bedard to start season in Sweden

Photo Courtesy of Garrett James/CSSHL Connor Bedard races down the ice for the West Van Academy prep program last season.

As he waits for the start of the 2020-21 Western Hockey League season, Connor Bedard is heading overseas to get into game shape.

The 15-year-old forward from North Vancouver, B.C. will train in Sweden with the HV71 junior program before the Regina Pats begin their season, which is expected to be on Dec. 4.

“We are excited for Connor and this opportunity,” Pats VP of Hockey Operations and General Manager John Paddock said in a prepared statement.

“We fully support his decision and look forward to when he comes to Regina for when our season starts in December.”

Bedard, who was taken first overall by the Pats in April, is the first player to be granted exceptional status into the WHL.

He joins John Tavares, Aaron Ekblad, Connor McDavid, Sean Day, Joe Veleno and Shane Wright as players who have entered junior hockey a year early.

“I’m really looking forward to this unique opportunity,” Bedard said in a prepared statement.

“I look forward to being able to develop in Sweden with HV71 and prepare myself for when I arrive in Regina. Hopefully we can be playing in front of the fans in December.”

Bedard had 84 points in 36 games last year with the West Van Academy prep program in the Canadian Sport School Hockey League.

He joins Brandon Wheat Kings and Winnipeg Ice forwards Ridly Greig and Connor McClennon as current WHL players who are heading overseas.
Greig and McClennon signed with Swedish third division side Karlskrona HK last week.