📝 by Mitchell Courtney | AHL On The Beat
Born and raised in The Pas, Manitoba, Minnesota Wild forward Connor Dewar has climbed the figurative hockey ladder and is now establishing himself at the professional level.
Throughout his career, his development has been gradual and progressive, but his professional hockey dream began later than most would expect.
“The first time I had any realistic aspirations about playing professional hockey was after my first two years playing major junior hockey,” Dewar said. “That was the first time I thought it was possible.”
In his first two years with the Everett Silvertips of the Western Hockey League, Dewar tallied 48 points in 143 games. He vastly improved in his third and fourth seasons, recording 149 points in 127 games. Following his third season in Everett, Dewar’s progress was apparent to the Wild organization and Minnesota selected him in the third round (92nd overall) of the 2018 NHL Draft.
After compiling 81 points in 59 games in his fourth season with the Silvertips, Dewar signed a three-year, entry-level contract with Minnesota on Mar. 5, 2019, and subsequently made his AHL debut with the Iowa Wild on Oct. 19, 2019.
“I noticed right away that it was a heavier game in the American Hockey League,” Dewar said. “There were a lot of bigger guys playing. I had to adjust and adapt to that style of play.”
Even for young players hoping to play in the NHL, two separate relocations to new cities can be jarring. Dewar’s moves to Everett, Wash., to play for the Silvertips and to Des Moines, Iowa, to play for the AHL Wild were moments that he fully appreciated. Even now, he is grateful for the early opportunities he has been afforded in his young career.
“I enjoyed moving to both cities,” Dewar said. “I got to meet a lot of new people and experience a lot of new places. I consider myself pretty fortunate. It is an experience that not a lot of people get to have at such an early age.”
Furthermore, Dewar attributes most of his success and development in the Wild organization to his teammates and coaches in Iowa.
“Everyone has been good to me. I was extremely lucky to have a great group of guys playing with me in Iowa from the beginning,” Dewar said. “Mike Liambas, Cody McLeod, Matt Bartkowski, Kyle Rau, Gerry Mayhew, Sam Anas and Mason Shaw were all great to me. There are too many to name them all but there are so many great guys on the teams I have played on in Iowa.”
Even more special, Dewar says, has been the opportunity to experience the NHL and play alongside some of the guys he developed with in Iowa.
“It has been very cool to see that development,” Dewar said. “I really got a feel for how we have all developed and how we all came along together. It is special and you appreciate it a little bit more when you all go up together.”
His journey has not come without some challenges along the way. After being recalled to Minnesota and making his NHL debut in Seattle against the Kraken on Oct. 28, 2021, Dewar played in three additional NHL games before being reassigned to Iowa. He did not view his reassignment as a punishment and instead turned his focus to using his first NHL experience as an educational tool for his own personal development.
“I felt like I needed that first call-up in October,” Dewar said. “I was able to use that as a learning experience for the next time I got called up.”
In fact, his first taste of NHL hockey was something of a relief to Dewar, who had worked tirelessly to get to that point. Like many young players, his first NHL games were an opportunity for him to get acclimated to the speed and physicality at the highest level.
“My debut was in Seattle so we were close to Everett,” Dewar said. “A lot of my billet family members, my old coaches, my teammates and my family were there. It was a day of reflection and a bit of an exhale to be able to say that I made it to the NHL.”
Following his first stint with Minnesota, Dewar recorded seven points in his next eight games with Iowa and he was once again recalled to Minnesota on Dec. 30, 2021.
Dewar admitted that he felt much more prepared for the NHL the second time around because of the time he had spent working on his game in Iowa.
“The second time I came up, I was a lot more confident in my game and my abilities,” Dewar said. “All of my experiences in Iowa helped me transition well to the next level. I have done my best to not take those moments for granted.”
Dewar was reassigned to Iowa on Mar. 30, 2022, in order to continue his development and to assist the Wild in their Calder Cup Playoff push. As he continues to establish himself as an NHL-caliber player in Iowa and Minnesota, Dewar maintains that reassignments to Iowa do not discourage him from his ultimate goal of being an everyday player in the NHL.
“Everywhere I have been to this point has been where I was supposed to be at that time,” Dewar said. “I am just so appreciative of everyone who has helped me get to this point.”
Although Minnesota is on the precipice of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Dewar has not let his thoughts shift to the possibility of him rejoining Minnesota in the near future.
“I am in Des Moines, my only focus is helping this team get into the playoffs,” Dewar said.