NHL Notebook: Canucks, Penguins make four-player trade and how long until Connor Bedard finds his footing?
1 month ago
The Vancouver Canucks have acquired defenceman Mark Friedman and forward Ty Glover from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for Jack Rathbone and Karel Plasek, the club announced on Tuesday.
For Rathbone, the trade commemorates a fresh start. The defenceman was the 95th overall pick for the Vancouver Canucks in 2017. He spent three years in Van City, moving between the big leagues and the team’s AHL affiliate, the Abbotsford Canucks. In total, he’s played 28 games for the Canucks, scoring two goals and five points. With Abbotsford, he’s collected 16 goals and 55 points across 78 games.
“I would like to thank Jack for all the time he spent with our organization and always pushing hard when competing for a spot,” Vancouver’s general manager, Patrik Allvin, read in a statement.
“It has been a tough couple of years for him and this will give him a fresh start. The two players coming back in this trade will add to our depth as we continue to look at ways to improve our organization.”
The Penguins organization has already assigned Plasek to the ECHL’s Wheeling Nailers. He spent the previous two seasons (2022-23, 2021-22) in Czechia, and last season saw the forward playing with the HC Olomouc for 31 games, scoring six goals and 15 points.
With the acquisition of Friedman, the Leafs are receiving a right-shot defenceman with 65 games of NHL experience. Last season’s campaign showcased the blueliner’s talents in 23 regular season games, with the Penguins scoring one goal and three points and a +2 plus/minus rating. He spent the remainder of the 2022-23 campaign with the club’s AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, producing one goal and six points.
Glover, the 23-year-old from the United Kingdom, is a product of the NCAA’s Western Michigan University, where he spent two seasons recording 13 goals and 32 points over 63 games. He joined the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last season, tallying seven goals and 12 points.
Only a matter of time before Connor Bedard finds his footing in the NHL
Pressure. It’s experienced by everyone in a variety of different shapes and forms. Still, pressure has a whole different meaning for the Chicago Blackhawks’ first-overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft.
Stepping onto the big stage as an 18-year-old who harnesses talents akin to those of hockey’s greats is not a simple task, but when you have a hard shot, puck, and stick handling skills like no other, and the ability to lead dynamic rushes, it makes things seem like it may be a bit easier. It also helps when you have 271 points at the WHL level in your pocket and an additional 31 points over two years in the iconic IIHF World Junior Championship.
Unfortunately for Bedard, when a dominant wrist shot doesn’t go your way, and Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltender Joseph Woll flashes you the leather more than once, it’s hard not to be frustrated.
In the Blackhawks’ first regular-season appearance against the Leafs, the club walked away from a 4-1 victory over Auston Matthews and the rest of the Leafs team. However, for Bedard, going silent on the score sheet wasn’t in his plans. Despite the learning curve, Blackhawks head coach Luke Richardson didn’t see failure; he saw a kid trying to navigate his footing in the NHL.
“He played a responsible game tonight,” Richardson said. “He was pretty detailed in his game and e got his chances. He was feeling it out early, and when he broke loose in that first period, had that real nice line rush, I think that got him more confidence in the game, and he really started making plays in the second period. He’s just going to grow and get better and learn who he’s playing against, it’s gonna help as well.”
Learning the ways of the NHL will require a little more work than what Bedard may have anticipated. As Daily Faceoff’s Matt Larkin notes, he must understand that “the goalies will be much better, sometimes athletic enough to prevent what looks like sure goals.” Larkin also noted the young star will have to learn to shorten his release time on shots and understand how to properly time a faceoff at this level, which he learned quickly after getting booted from a draw against Matthews.
As Larkin notes, the 18-year-old isn’t letting the expectations get in the way of his goals. On Saturday night’s matchup against the Montreal Canadiens, Bedard was booed by Habs fans every time his stick touched the puck. Instead of letting it pile onto his frustrations, he laughed it off.
“He’s extremely mature for his age,” said Blackhawks defenceman Alex Vlasic.
“That’s something a lot of people admire about him. (John Tavares) said the other day that he’s a lot like (Sidney Crosby) – just the way he handles himself, he’s super humble and he’s definitely all about the team.”
Aside from all the media and fan critiques around the league, Bedard is on the right track to becoming a dominant goal scorer. Larkin acknowledged that the forward had a “team-high four individual scoring chances at 5-on-5 on Monday,” and the youngster leads Chicago in shots, expected goals, shot attempts, scoring chances, rush attempts, and rebounds created.
As the pressure and expectations settle for Bedard, it’s only a matter of time before he finds his footing in the big leagues and activates that dominant scoring touch.
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