Sunday, April 21, 2024

Connor Bedard Progress Report: February Check-In


What superstar rookie Connor Bedard is doing on the Blackhawks right now is nothing short of remarkable.

The month of February was an exciting one for the 18-year-old, even if he only played two weeks of it. After missing almost the entirety of January due to a fractured jaw he suffered on January 5, Bedard made an unexpectedly early return on February 15 against Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

Though he was on the injured list for nearly six weeks, Bedard didn’t miss a beat upon his return. In three games in five days out of the gate, he tallied a total of six points. While his production in the points column has slowed down a bit since then, there’s no question he’s still one of the most prolific scorers in the league and a clear Calder Trophy favorite.

Bedard’s absence made it painfully clear how much the Blackhawks need their rookie sensation. In the 14 games he missed, Chicago was shut out four times and scored one goal four times. The lack of other offensive production is a testament to Bedard’s value and ability to carry the attacking group on his back at times.

Bedard’s ability to pick up where he left off effectively sealed the deal on the Calder Trophy race, as well. Despite missing nearly a fifth of the season, he’s the overwhelming favorite to walk away with the award. Most oddsmakers have his line set at -500 or more. Minnesota’s Brock Faber is the only rookie within range of Bedard in that aspect, with most lines around +400.

February also saw Bedard’s personality take another step. He’s always been mature in front of the cameras as a calm and quiet presence, but in a game against the Hurricanes on February 19, we saw the superstar rookie truly fired up for the first time. After taking a shove from Carolina netminder Spencer Martin at the end of the second period, Bedard came out of the locker room heated and quickly took over the game. Though the Blackhawks fell short in the end, Bedard picked up two points, adding an overturned goal where he stared down Martin, clearly fired up.

Though Bedard has somehow met his lofty expectations, he still has room for improvement. He’s constantly working to get better on the defensive end, but despite his seven points in seven games in February, he still recorded a plus-minus of -7 on the month. That’s not the biggest issue, considering his talents are best used with an offensive focus and he’s trying to avoid a disastrous injury. Still, even one of the best rookies ever has room to improve.

The month of February was an interesting one for Bedard, who missed half of it but didn’t miss a beat upon his return. The rookie superstar should be able to keep his scoring momentum going, finishing his first season strong.

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