Thursday, July 11, 2024

Connor Bedard Wins Prestigious Calder Trophy As NHL’s Top Rookie

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Just as we all expected, the NHL announced Connor Bedard as its top rookie Thursday night. The superstar 18-year-old took home the Calder Trophy, one of the league’s most sought-after awards of the year.

Bedard beat out Minnesota defenseman Brock Faber and the Devils’ Luke Hughes, who were also named as finalists for the award. The decision is much to the ire of Wild fans, who frequently cited Bedard’s plus-minus of -44 on the year as a reason he shouldn’t come home with the award.

Despite Bedard’s dismal plus-minus, which is primarily due to his offensive focus and lack of surrounding talent, the young face of the franchise had a rookie season for the ages. Although he had to produce most of Chicago’s offense by himself, Bedard logged 61 points, beating out Faber and Hughes, who each had 47. His 22 goals and 39 assists each led all rookies, as well. Bedard was dominant on a season-long basis despite missing 14 games in the middle due to a fractured jaw, an injury that caused him to miss the All-Star Game (though he still took part in the weekend in a number of different ways). When healthy, the rookie notched just under 20 minutes on the ice per game.

Throughout the year, it seemed Bedard made one extraordinary play after another while often carrying Chicago’s offense. Perhaps the highlight of the season for the Blackhawks, and perhaps for the entire league, came against rival St. Louis when he delivered a rare “Michigan” goal.

With the Calder win, Bedard joins a distinguished group of Blackhawks who have won the award in the franchise’s illustrious history. Nine Chicago players have previously taken home the trophy, including household names like Patrick Kane, Ed Belfour, Tony Esposito and Steve Larmer. Rangers star Artemi Panarin joins historic names like Bill Hay, Ed Litzenberger, and Cully Dahlstrom to complete the list.

The No. 1 pick in last year’s draft was the odds-on favorite to take home the Calder Trophy throughout the entire 2023-24 season, only briefly being challenged by Faber while recovering on the injured list. Though Bedard said at the season that the Calder hadn’t really crossed his mind, one of the league’s most prestigious awards is a great acknowledgement of a truly spectacular season.

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