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Top NHL draft pick Connor Bedard is an ‘incredible’ talent with a bright future, Stanley Cup champ says

Connor Bedard, the first overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, made his debut for the Chicago Blackhawks last week. As he skated toward center ice for his first puck drop in the NHL, he stood opposite one of the sport’s greatest all-time players, Sidney Crosby. 

“Hey Sid, welcome back for another season,” veteran NHL official Kelly Sutherland said before turning to Bedard. 

Connor Bedard and Sidney Crosby face off

Connor Bedard (98) of the Chicago Blackhawks plays in his first NHL game against Sidney Crosby (87) of the Pittsburgh Penguins at PPG Paints Arena Oct. 10, 2023, in Pittsburgh.  (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

“Connor, welcome to the NHL, man.” 

His first experience with the NHL was when he traveled to the U.S. at 14 and saw a San Jose Sharks game. He would go on to make a name for himself in his native Switzerland in the mid-90s and eventually caught the attention of the NHL after playing in the top tier of the Swiss league. However, after a brief stint in the AHL, he returned to Switzerland. 

Connor Bedard walks to the locker room

Connor Bedard of the Chicago Blackhawks exits the locker room prior to playing the Toronto Maple Leafs at Scotiabank Arena Oct. 16, 2023, in Toronto. (Michael Chisholm/NHLI via Getty Images)

At 26 years old, he was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens. He had a successful career as a two-way defenseman, playing for the New York Islanders, the Philadelphia Flyers and the Penguins. 

“I was collecting cards and jerseys and posters of those guys, and all of a sudden you face them – the Chris Chelios, the Nick Lindstrom and all those players that have been in the league for so long and so successful and winning Stanley Cups.

“And, all of a sudden, you’re in the mix. And that’s the beauty about the sport. And that’s why I tell every young kid, it’s all the work you put in, it pays off. I mean, those are the moments. You’re [taking] them in. You have them in your heart forever. You never forget about them, and that’s truly amazing.

 “I mean, obviously playing and making a good living, that’s fine. But those moments, that’s really what makes a difference – what made it for me.” 

Paulina Dedaj is a Sports Reporter for Fox News Digital.

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