Connor Bedard No. 1 in NHL Central Scouting midterm ratings

Projected top pick Connor Bedard was rated the No. 1 pick. 1 North American skater by NHL Central Scouting, which released its midterm rankings Friday.

The 17-year-old center has long been considered a heavy favorite to be the first pick in this summer’s NHL draft in Nashville, Tennessee. All the conversations around Bedard intensified even more after he had one of the all-time great performances at the IIHF U-20 World Junior Championships earlier this month.

Bedard led the tournament with 9 goals, 14 assists and 23 points and averaged 3.29 points per game. Even if Bedard hadn’t scored a goal, his 14 assists alone would have still been tied for the most points in the tournament. Those performances helped Canada win its record-extending 20th title, with Bedard being named the tournament’s MVP as well as being named the best forward for finishing with the fourth-most points by a player in a single tournament.

His junior season has been more of the same. Bedard has already amass 31 goals and 70 points in just 29 games with the WHL’s Regina Pats. Bedard is currently projected to finish the season with 61 goals and 138 points in 57 games.

University of Michigan freshman center Adam Fantilli, who was also part of Canada’s gold-medal-winning team, was the No. 2 North American skater. Fantilli had five points in seven games for Canada and had 11 goals and 26 points in 16 games for the Wolverines.

Will Smith, who was the No. 3 North American skater, was the highest-ranked US-born skater in the rankings. The 17-year-old center is currently playing for the United States national development team program and has committed to Boston College. Smith’s NTDP teammate, winger Ryan Leonard, was the No. 4 North American skater, followed by Moose Jaw center Brayden Yager at fifth.

Orebro’s imposing 6-foot-3 center Leo Carlsson was the No. 1 skater in the international rankings. Carlsson also had six points in seven games to help Sweden finish fourth at the World Juniors. Matvei Michkov, a winger who plays for HK Sochi in the KHL, was the No. 1 player in the KHL. 2 international skaters. Skelleftea defenseman Axel Sandin Pellikka, AIK center Dalibor Dvorsky and Brno winger Eduard Sale comprised the rest of the top five international skaters.

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