NHL draft prospect Tanner Howe took after Connor Bedard as Regina Pats’ captain

After two years playing junior hockey together, Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard and Regina Pats captain Tanner Howe kept closely in touch this past season.

And when the Pats’ season finale against Moose Jaw in late March devolved into a line brawl, a goalie fight and nearly a coach fight, Bedard had a good guess as to who ignited the pandemonium.

“I think ‘Howie’ started it,” Bedard said the next day, laughing.

That’s exactly the way Howe plays. The 18-year-old forward from Saskatchewan is aggressive, both between the whistles and after them.

“On the ice, he’s a bit of a prick, and [he’s] really talented offensively as well,” Bedard said in March. “All around, he’s hard to play against.”

Goalie fight!!

Kelton Pyne vs. Jackson Unger (March 23, 2024) pic.twitter.com/HuqH93WGbT

— Kevin Shaw (@theblueliner) March 24, 2024

At the NHL scouting combine in Buffalo, N.Y., last week, Howe didn’t shy away from that description of himself.

“I play with a lot of fire in my stomach,” he said. “I’m a very emotional guy. That’s just the way I’ll play for the rest of my life.”

A year after Bedard went No. 1 overall, Howe is now going through the same NHL draft preparations, eager to see which franchise most values his individual style.

He’s a projected second- or third-round pick who could be in play for any of the Hawks’ four picks in those rounds (Nos. 34, 50, 67 and 72 overall).

His WHL production jumped off the page when he played alongside Bedard, as one would expect. He tallied 69 points in 64 games in 2021-22, a season he began at age 15, and followed that up with 85 points in 67 games in 2022-23.

Even in 2023-24 without Bedard, though, Howe still led a rebuilding Pats team (which finished last in their division) in scoring by a mile, recording 77 points in 68 games.

Scouting reports rave about his work ethic and consistency, and he plays an efficient game despite not being an exceptionally dynamic or athletic forward by pro-hockey standards. He’s a good playmaker and finisher and a strong skater, and he believes he can get even better in the latter category; improving his skating is his top priority during his summer training.

The biggest knock on him is his size — 5-10 and 175 pounds — but his style of play helps him overcome his lightness in some ways.

“Even being a smaller guy, I like to be physical, I like to hit and I like to knock guys off pucks,” he said. “I play a lot bigger than I look.”

He credits his work ethic to Bedard, whose relentless dedication to practice long ago rubbed off on him. But he credits his feisty nature to some NHL stars to whom he has less of a personal connection: Boston’s Brad Marchand and Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher.

When asked which singular skill belonging to a singular player he would steal if he could, he mentioned one of the spotlight figures in the ongoing Stanley Cup Final.

“I think it’s Matthew Tkachuk’s style of hockey,” he said. “He plays with so much emotion; he’s a hard worker; he’s competitive; he wants to score; he wants to get better each and every day.”

At the combine, Howe met with 21 teams, including the Hawks.

Come draft weekend June 28-29 in Las Vegas, the odds are one of the other 20 teams will take him instead. But if the Hawks are the one that pulls the trigger, it would reinforce an emerging Regina-to-Chicago pipeline and make two teenagers very happy.

“That would be pretty sweet, [considering] the junior career we had and how fun it was,” Howe said. “Getting the chance to play with him would be super cool.”

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *