The 2023 World Junior Championships are over, with Canada winning it's 20th championship.
It always amazes me that when you look back at these rosters just how many guys do not make the National Hockey League. You would think Canada's top 20 junior players in any given year would all go on to be NHL stars, but the reality is a good number of them - pushing 50% of them - do not meet expectations at the NHL level. A few will become stars, another 7-10 will be NHL players, but a surprisingly large percentage do not really make it.
From the 2023 team three players really impressed me.
Olen Zellweger is a fantastic skating defenseman drafted by the Anaheim Ducks. His skating ability alone should keep him in the league for years. He has good offensive instincts and we will see if he can handle the defensive zone at the NHL level.
Brennan Othmann screams NHL player to me. He reminds me of Corey Perry with his impactful style of play. He is the kind of player who will find a role in the NHL for many years to come, and likely be one of those guys who makes a bigger impression he bigger the game is.
Then of course there is Connor Bedard, who rewrote the record books. Given time and space, this guy is lethal. A sure fire can't miss prospect.
The media and fans want to use the term generational, which I'm not quite sure I'd go that far. He will be a star, but there usually is only one or two players in the league at any given time that are truly generational.
Generational should be reserved for the player who is by far the best player of his time. Nowadays everyone wants to label their favorite superstar as generational. But we can't risk the term generational being watered down like the term superstar. Auston Matthews, Elias Pettersson, Nathan MacKinnon, Nikita Kucherov, Matthew Tkachuk, Leon Draisaitl, Jason Robertson, Tage Thompson....all fantastic star players, among the best on the planet. I don't want to take anything away from them. But sorry, the only generational player right now is Connor McDavid. It's not even close.
That's the way the term should be. In fact, I would say the term generational player should be reserved for just a very few players in history. Looking back, I would apply the label to Cyclone Taylor, Howie Morenz, Rocket Richard, Gordie Howe, Jean Beliveau, Bobby Hull, Bobby Orr, Guy Lafleur, Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Alexander Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby and now McDavid. That's it. There are a whole lot of great players, but these are the true generational talents. Once in a lifetime talents.
Can Connor Bedard become the next generational talent? I would not dismiss the idea like I would for any of the other recent top prospects. He is a step above them. What will he become at the NHL level? A star for sure, but only time will tell.