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How the Race for the Calder Trophy is Shaping Up With the Return of Connor Bedard

Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images


After missing 14 straight contests due to a broken jaw, the NHL’s crown jewel has finally returned to action, lacing up his skates for the first time since January 5 just a few nights ago against the Penguins and getting the race for the highly-coveted Calder Trophy back underway. 


A few weeks ago, Chicago Blackhawks rookie and NHL superstar Connor Bedard was levelled by New Jersey Devils defenseman Brendan Smith, from which he unfortunately suffered a broken jaw. The rookie was forced to sit out a lengthy period of time, causing questions to arise as to whether he can maintain a Calder-worthy season upon his return, or whether he still deserves the award in the first place. 


Bedard is one of the greatest talents the NHL has ever seen. His skating ability, handles and his uncanny ability to generate a ton of force off snapshots and wristers have made him a generational talent, to the point where teams last year were intentionally tanking to be able to draft the 18-year-old. Lucky enough for the Blackhawks, they snagged Bedard with the first pick of the 2023 NHL draft, essentially giving him the keys to a struggling franchise in the midst of a massive rebuild. 


Bedard has already made an impact on the ice, going only three total games without scoring a point before his injury. At such a young age, he is already cementing his place in the league as a household name, while also single-handedly giving Blackhawks fans hope for the future of their franchise. 


He has established himself as a clear front-runner for this year’s Calder Trophy, which fans suggested they give to him before the season even started. However, despite his dominance, credit has to be given to Brock Faber, who could very well be seen as a front-runner for this year’s Calder as well.


Brock Faber

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Minnesota Wild rookie defenseman Brock Faber is the favourite to give Bedard a run for his money in the race for the Calder, especially considering the performance he has put on up to this point in the season. When Bedard was injured, Faber made a strong push to establish himself as easily the second-best rookie in this year’s class as well as Bedard’s main competition for rookie of the year. 


He’s seen massive minutes on a night-to-night basis, being the only player in the entire league to log 30+ minutes in five games. The closest to Faber in that regard is Noah Dobson of the New York Islanders with three games, while only 17 other players have played a single game with 30+ minutes logged. In those minutes, Faber has made a massive impact on this Wild team, asserting his position as a mainstay player through his dominance on the defensive as well as the offensive end. 


As a defenseman, Faber had 13 points in 10 games from the middle of January to the middle of February. He has racked up a total of 33 points on the season and continues to impress and solidify himself as a household name on an already strong Minnesota Wild squad. However, even with Faber’s impressive performance so far this season, it’s so hard to doubt Bedard’s ability to catch fire and set himself apart from Faber in the race for the Calder as the end of the season closes in.


Despite missing those 14 crucial games in his quest for the Calder, Bedard still leads all rookies in points, with 17 goals and 22 assists in just 42 games played. He leads the entire NHL in percentage of goals scored for a player's respective team, as he’s scored 26.5% of all of the Blackhawks goals this season. He also has as many six-point games, as he does zero-point games (2), which is a crazy stat when you consider he’s only 18. He’s racked up a total of 39 points on the season which should continue to rise exponentially as he’s projected to end with 63 total points on the year.



Credit: NHL/Getty Images


This is potentially one of the closest races for the Calder Trophy in the NHL’s history. While many expected Bedard to be a standout favourite to win the award before the season started, his injury alongside Faber’s outstanding play up to this point in the season, has made it interesting.


The award is not solely based on points either. While it is safe to say that Bedard will end with the most points out of this year’s rookie class by a longshot as he still leads after missing 14 total games, other factors have to be taken into consideration as well. Bedard is clearly offensive-minded, always thinking about scoring or how he can put his teammates in the best position to score. Where Bedard seems to be solely offensively minded, Faber offers fantastic offensive production, as well as being a standout defenseman. Being a two-way player is such a sought-after skill in the league, to the point where they have a trophy for the best two-way player in the league - the Selke Trophy. 


With around 25 games left for each team, Faber and Bedard still have a lot to prove to be awarded the Calder. Bedard has to show that he can come back from an injury and sustain the dominant offensive output he was producing before, while Faber has to demonstrate that he can remain consistent as a two-way player, putting up points while stopping opposing teams from scoring them. 


Either way, two generational talents are coming into the league that have demonstrated the potential to be faces of a franchise. The Calder is important, but it’s nowhere near as important to making an impact in your rookie year and solidifying your spot as a respected player in the league.



Edited By: Josh Reidelbach

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