Top Five Canadian Sports Stars to Watch in 2023
2022 was a big year for Canada in international sports. Our men’s soccer team made it to the World Cup for just the second time in history under the guidance of John Herdman, who was very successful with the women’s side in the years before. Although they made an early exit, it brings hope for things to come and we’ll be eager to see where they end up in 2026, especially with two Canadian cities hosting the World Cup in the North American shared event.
Earlier in the year, the Beijing Winter Olympics were held, and although Canada won just one Gold medal in the early goings, they made up for it by winning three straight Gold medals on consecutive days. February 15 saw a Gold go to the women’s team pursuit speed skating (Ivanie Blondin, Valerie Maltais and Isabelle Weidemann), while the 16th saw the men’s short track speed skating do the same. Most spectacularly, on the 17th the women’s ice hockey team won their third straight Gold with our first featured athlete at the helm.
Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and digest Bodog’s top five Canadian sports stars to watch in 2023.
Marie-Philip Poulin: Hockey
The Northern Star Award goes to Canada’s top athlete every year, as determined by a panel of journalists, and in 2022, it went to Canada’s hockey sensation Marie-Philip Poulin. This was the first time the award went to a female hockey player, who has been outstanding for a long time.
The Quebec born Poulin has been the captain of the women’s hockey team since 2015. She was also the driving force for Team Canada at the Olympics, scoring two of the three goals in the Gold Medal Final against the USA and registering the assist on the third goal. It was her third straight Olympic Gold medal. She’s the only person (man or woman) to score in four straight Olympic Gold Medal Games, and she also won a Gold at the World Championships in 2022. She is the best female hockey player in the world and will almost certainly continue her dominance of the sport in 2023. Watch for her to lead the women’s team to defend their World Championship status at the 2023 event, which is being hosted in Canada.
Cale Makar: Hockey
The Colorado Avalanche won their third Stanley Cup in franchise history in June when they beat the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning in six games. Calgary native Cale Makar was a major part of that feat. In the Stanley Cup Finals series, the defenseman scored three goals and registered four assists. He was coming off of a regular season that earned him the Norris trophy and then capped it off by winning the Conn Smythe—by unanimous vote—for his MVP performance in the playoffs. He stands alone as the single NHL player to win the Hobey Baker, the Calder, the Norris, the Conn Smythe and the Stanley Cup in his career, and he’s only 24. On Monday of this week, he broke another record when he recorded his 200th point in just 195 games; the previous record for fastest defenseman to record 200 points was Sergei Zubov, who did it in 207 games. 2022 was another stellar year in the NHL, and 2023 promises to be even bigger.
Brooke Henderson: Golf
Smith Falls, Ontario native, Brooke Henderson rocked the LPGA world in 2022 when she won two LPGA tournaments, which included a major (the Classic), bringing up her career victories to 11. The Classic required come-from-behind heroics after Henderson found herself in ninth after two rounds. Just as the leader (Frida Kinhult) was faltering, Henderson managed three birdies and an eagle on the front nine and two more birdies on the back nine.
Her other victory of the year came at the Amundi Evian Championship, which she won by a single stroke over Sophia Schubert (America). Henderson had 10 top-10 finishes this year and ranks third in the world. She’s Canada’s top golfer by a mile (Corey Conners checks in at No. 34 on the men’s side).
Andrew Wiggins: Basketball
After being with the Golden State Warriors for their egregious 2020-21 season, Canadian (Greater Toronto Area) basketball player Andrew Wiggins got to experience the greatest high of all: he was part of the 2022 champion roster that beat the Boston Celtics in six games. Game 4 and 5 of the series saw tremendous contributions from the forward. In Game 4, he scored 17 points and added 16 rebounds, and the following game saw him put up 26 points with 13 rebounds; both performances contributed to victories for the Warriors. He finished the NBA Final series as the team leader in rebounds and blocks, and was the second-highest point producer.
Earlier in the season, Wiggins was a starter for Team Durant in the All-Star game in February. He was just the third player in NBA history to be called to the All-Star squad for the first time in their eighth career year, or beyond. There is a real case to be made for Wiggins becoming one of the greatest Canadian sports stars of all time – who knows what we will be saying in ten years time.
Felix Auger-Aliassime: Tennis
Montreal-born Felix Auger-Aliassime is making a name for Canada in the men’s tennis world. He’s coming off of a year that saw him register four ATP victories (all indoor titles) that included the Basel, Antwerp, Florence and Rotterdam, and is now ranked No. 6 worldwide—a career high. He has been the driving force for Canada at the Davis Cup, taking the nation to a historic finals run in 2019, which ended with a loss to Spain, and then to victory this year, with a flawless performance that concluded with a win over Alex de Minaur (No. 24).
After losing to Rafael Nadal in the round of 16 at Roland-Garros in the spring, Auger-Aliassime beat his tennis idol 6-3, 6-4 at the ATP Finals in November with a massive serve. At 22 years of age, the best is still to come for this elite Canadian talent, so be sure to look for his name on the ATP tennis futures market and in future lists of Canadian sports stars to watch.