How (and where) Connor Bedard scored 100 goals in his NHL Draft year

One hundred goals.

In my years of doing this work, I’m sure I never even considered that that was a feasible milestone for a player to reach in major junior. Just writing it out makes my head spin. You paused when you read it, didn’t you? “That can’t be right,” you probably thought to yourself. And I don’t blame you. It’s an unthinkable number.

And yet it’s exactly how many times Connor Bedard scored in his draft year.

A perfectly round 100 goals. Not points. Goals.

Here’s the end tally, across seven different competitions totalling 83 games played in the nine months from August through to April:

Connor Bedard’s draft year goal totals

Competition Games Goals

World juniors (Aug.)



WHL preseason



WHL reg. season



World juniors (pre-tournament)



World juniors (Dec.)



CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game



WHL playoffs






So how did he do it? And from where? And with what shot? And into what part of the net?

I watched back and tracked all 100 of Bedard’s goals this season to plot out all of that data and break down the tape for The Athletic.

The results offer insight into Bedard’s game, his scoring habits, his unique and varied strengths, and what it all might look like/how it all might work in the NHL.

Connor Bedard’s shot types

Type Goals

Slap shot






Jam play/shovel/tap-in




Penalty shot


Long empty net




At a glance, this piece of the data might surprise you if you’ve watched enough of Bedard. His slap shot is a bigger weapon than his wrister? But that’s not quite the case. While it tracked as the most common outcome for a goal, the slap shot doesn’t just include the typical wind-up-and-crank-it motion that the word elicits in our brains. In fact, Bedard very rarely winds up for a traditional slap shot either standing still or moving.

He does, however, score more goals than you might think with a combination of his one-timer, a low, down-to-one-knee one-touch shot, and with shortened windups when the puck comes to him in crowds, all of which were folded into the slap shot tally for the purposes of the data. As a result, that slap shot number speaks more to his ability to get open and be opportunistic, even as a player who is always the marked man when he’s on the ice.

The one-timer is mostly a power-play tool, and while it’s a definite weapon in his shooting arsenal, he only scored a handful of his goals with it this year. Still, it’s balanced and well-timed, with good power and accuracy:

Bedard’s wrister, though, is undoubtedly his biggest separator as a shooter.

And there are really two types that he has mastered.

The first is what scouts and NHL players are already calling “The Bedard” and it’s an already-patented curl-and-drop motion that pulls the puck into his feet and an oddly-upright stance, and then uses momentum and pressure to uncork a heavy, heavy release.

It’s an extremely hard shot to stop, not only because of the almost-impossible velocity that he generates out of it, but because of the pre-shot adjustment and the way it allows him to change angles on goalies and shape his shots around the sticks and feet of defenders. I would argue that the only NHL player whose shot-shaping rivals Bedard’s is Nikita Kucherov (with all due respect to Elias Pettersson, Auston Matthews and Kirill Kaprizov, who are all superb at it as well).

Here’s what it looks like. Notice how smooth the action of it is, too. That puck is glued to his blade until the moment he lets go of it, even though it’s travelling in a circular motion from toe to heel. The way he cradles it and then pops it, with perfect timing, reveals just how much he has practiced it.

And while he most commonly releases it off of his back foot, he’s equally as proficient letting it go out of the front of his stance.

Watch how he shoots off of his front stance in order to power through the defender’s stick here:

He’s so comfortable with the mechanics of “The Bedard” that he can change his intent with it in the middle of his shooting motion, too.

Though he wants to unload it and most often beats goalies with it by cleanly ripping it past them, he’ll also throw them curveballs when he doesn’t have the posture or time to really lean into it, or when he sees an opening into the net to feather it into.

Watch how lightly he places this one far side when he’s well-covered and his grip is too high to generate the power he likes:

The second most common wrister type that Bedard goes to is actually more of a one-footed snap shot.

Bedard’s one-footed shooting motion doesn’t look like the most basic and frequently used one that has become so prominent in the NHL, either. Most NHL players go to one foot when they’re attacking at the net in straight lines as a way to leverage their weight into their planted foot. Bedard will go to one foot when his feet are pointed away from the net and he’s identified an opening for a shot back against the grain.

He’s not pushing into his planted foot and extending out over his toecaps towards the goal, but rather out of his planted foot in a lateral push away from the puck as another way to change his angle.

Here’s one example:

When he goes to it, he’s also usually operating from a very wide base in his stance. Where most players bring their raised foot into their stance in order to push back out into a wide base, Bedard’s already in a deep A-frame, which should actually limit the extra push he’s getting out of it in theory (it doesn’t, for him, I’d assume because of how strong his lower-body is).

Look where his feet are pointed, and notice how his left foot barely comes off the ice here:

That should be a very uncomfortable shooting stance for most players.

And while the two shot types highlighted above are certainly his bread and butter, and the difference between a singular scorer and even great scorers, don’t confuse him for a two-trick pony, either.

While only nine percent of his goals this season were scored on tips, deflections, jam plays, tap-ins and shovel plays right at the crease, he goes there willingly and has developed a talked-about and even admired competitiveness/battle mentality (and those nine goals don’t include all of the aforementioned one-touch goals he scores around the home plate area).

Every elite goal scorer sprinkles in these types of goals, and Bedard has shown he’s willing to fight for pucks and pay the price in the dirty areas:

That willingness to go to the front of the net brings me to the “where” part of his goal-scoring equation.

Connor Bedard’s goal locations on ice

Ice location Goals

Around the crease




Right flank


Left flank


Above the circles


Outside zone


Behind net




The single-most impressive thing about where Connor Bedard scores his goals is just how many of them come in the middle third of the ice between the offensive-zone faceoff dots, the top of the circles, and the front of the net.

We expect snipers to score a large percentage of their goals from the flanks, but only 17 percent of Bedard’s goals were scored there this season. And only four of his goals were scored from above the dots.

Those two data points speak to an intelligent, focused approach and mentality to attacking, and not some mythical skill at scoring from the perimeter. He almost never shoots from the blue line, and very rarely even from the couple of feet above the circles where most great scorers think they have a green light. The same goes from the outer left and right halves of the circles inside the offensive zone. When he gets pucks on the outside, he is solely focused on taking it to a higher-percentage area.

This has become his sweet spot, but it’s also as far as he’ll stretch himself and a lower max distance than some of the NHL’s top shooters (like Patrik Laine) give themselves:

One of my biggest takeaways from this exercise was that Bedard’s the furthest thing from a perimeter scorer.

He’s a hunter.

There are probably even times where you’d like him to extend his range by two or three feet because he’d still be a scoring threat. All four of the goals he scored from above the circles this year were just barely. None were from the point. The same goes for his flank goals. He’s just outside the dots on most of them, not at the boards or even the fringes of the circle.

Connor Bedard’s goal locations in net

Net location Goals

High glove


High blocker


Low glove


Low blocker








Note: For the purposes of the labeling here, glove side was considered the right side facing towards the net and blocker side was considered the left side. That obviously isn’t always the case, but the vast majority of goalies catch left and I think the locations he’s picking in the net are more telling of where he’s aiming than whether or not he’s picking glove or blocker. 

As with his shot locations on the ice, Bedard’s shot locations in the net tell us he doesn’t just have high-end skill as a shooter, but high-end processing and versatility as one, too. Athletes are creatures of habit. Skills coaches will tell you that most players have crutches — one, or maybe two go-to shots or locations in the net that they’re really good at hitting. Most players are already thinking about where they want to go as they’re coming in on net, rather than truly surveying all of their options at full speed.

That Bedard scored an equal number of goals into the top corners of the net tells you he’s thinking out there.

That perfect distribution is even more striking when the 54 goals he scored low are broken down a step further. What if I were to tell you that he scored 20 goals bottom right and also goals 20 bottom left, with the other 14 low goals going down the middle five-hole?

Really the only tendency he displays one way or the other is a slight preference for low glove over low blocker. That, I think, boils down to his handedness as a righty and his definite preference for shooting short side.

He’s going to be a difficult player for NHL goalies and goalie coaches to pre-scout, but he definitely likes the short-side wrister off the wing and it’s easier to take that shot attacking off of his natural side off the right boards/wing than it is to go from backhand to forehand to shoot short-side off the left flank.

He’ll still go short-side off the left flank, like he did here:

But I’d be willing to guess that he’s just less proficient at scoring on those plays, and that those plays come to him a little less often, because of his handedness.

If he does look for a spot, instead of taking what’s given, it’s the short-side shot on the right side of the ice that’s his favorite (you’re welcome for the pre-scout, NHL goalie coaches reading this!).

It’s the first place he looks on the rare occasions where he does shoot from a bad angle, like he did here with a wrister:

And here with pinpoint accuracy from a little chip shot he likes near the goal line (it wasn’t this season, but he scored two nearly identical goals to this at U18 Worlds in Germany last spring as well):

Connor Bedard’s pre-shot patterns

Sequencing Goals

Rush carry into shot


In-zone carry into shot


Rush carry into deke


In-zone carry into deke




One touch




In order to take the tracking a step further, I also wanted to catalog all of his habits and tendencies before he took his actual shots.

This data, which excludes his penalty shot and two long empty-netters, is the most revealing of how Bedard creates his looks and how he might function at the NHL level.

I think the big takeaway here is how many of Bedard’s goals come out of carries. I highlighted how opportunistic he is already, but he’s also a brilliant individual creator. He scored 53 goals out of carries this year, and 35 of those came directly out of rush attacking sequences where he held onto the puck before scoring (so give-and-go tap-ins on odd-man rushes, etc. are not included in that number).

That’s a lot.

The in-zone carries into dekes often looked like the overtime goal he scored Slovakia in the quarterfinals at the world juniors in Halifax — plays where he beats a defender or two with his hands and then tucks on the goalie. I don’t need to include that video here, because we’ve all seen it.

The goals scored off shots out of rush carries look a lot like you’d expect, with him cleanly beating goalies with “The Bedard” on odd-man rushes.

I wanted to share just one of those here, because it also showcases some of the deception he uses so that goalies can’t just expect the shot. Watch how he sells pass and gives a little hesitation before shooting here:

But there were two reappearing goals of his that I did want to draw attention to.

The first was his go-to move when he opts to deke instead of shoot in one-on-one situations with goalies.

When he’s in all alone and shoots, he usually scores. But when he decides to deke, he almost never goes to a forehand or backhand tuck. Instead, he goes almost exclusively to this five-hole move (again, you’re welcome for the pre-scout, NHL goalie coaches!).

More than half of his 11 goals scored off of dekes off the rush were scored with that identical move. Here it is a second time:

The other most common way he scored off the rush was, believe it or not, by splitting the D in one-on-two situations. This will be the hardest piece of his goal scoring to reproduce at the next level, but it highlights his speed, skill and strength pushing through tight gaps in coverage to create something out of nothing.

He scored a handful of goals just like that this year, including three in Regina’s seven-game series against Saskatoon in the first round of the WHL playoffs.

This one highlights some of his strength, pushing through contact:

This one highlights his skill:

And this one was all speed and effort to push past a pair of flatfooted defenders:

But even if the ability to score a handful of goals like that becomes one goal like that a year, there’s still so much left to Bedard’s package that promises immediate success at the NHL level.

Heck, I’ve written this entire piece without underscoring just how smooth he is in catch-and-release sequences, usually catching a puck in his shooting stance rather than catching it and having to cradle it once to set up a shot — or worse yet, dust it off.

He makes this catch and release look easy, but the dexterity required to catch and shoot this puck without stickhandling is anything but for most players his age, even the top ones.

The same goes for the consistency with which he catches passes in his feet and still gets the shot off in a split second, like he does here:

But that’s Bedard, and the sum of all of those tools, not one of which he struggles with, is how you end up at an unthinkable number.

Additional reading

(Photo: Dennis Pajot / Getty Images)