Calder Trophy Futures: Conor Bedard Way Above The Pack

Calder Trophy Futures: Conor Bedard Way Above The Pack

The Calder Trophy is awarded to the very best rookie in the NHL every season. And by no surprise, there is a clear frontrunner to take home the prestigious honor in 2023-24: Connor Bedard. The Chicago Blackhawks phenom was taken first overall in the 2023 draft after a ridiculous career with the Regina Pats in the WHL. Bedard is expected to make an immediate difference for the Blackhawks franchise, who will be hoping he can turn things around for them with time. Below, we’ll discuss several contenders including Bedard who could win the Calder. 

Quick Take

  • Connor Bedard is a heavy favorite in the 2023-24 Calder Trophy futures
  • The Chicago Blackhawks star was the top pick in the 2023 draft
  • Keep reading as we discuss some of the contenders

Connor Bedard, Blackhawks

With -140 odds at Bodog, sportsbooks clearly expect Bedard to be a level above the rest of the rookies in the NHL. That is understandable, though. The Canadian is one of the most hyped prospects in years and just put up godly numbers last season in the WHL. Bedard had 71 goals and 72 assists for a total of 143 points in 57 games. While that was impressive in itself, Bedard starred in the World Juniors as well, breaking all sorts of records. Canada won gold behind his nine goals and 14 assists in seven appearances. Yes, you read that correctly. This kid is the real deal and will have every opportunity to star for the Blackhawks this season. It wouldn’t be the least bit surprising to see Bedard win the Calder Trophy.

Luke Hughes, Devils

Luke Hughes was actually drafted back in 2021 fourth overall but opted to play at the University of Michigan for two seasons. He made his NHL debut briefly in 2022-23, playing just a pair of games, therefore he’s considered a full rookie this year. With the Wolverines, Hughes developed into a lethal offensive-minded defenceman, scoring 10 goals and tallying 38 assists in 39 games last season. Hughes is a very good player who comes into the league with no shortage of experience and has shown well in preseason thus far. He could be another Cale Makar but perhaps not as physical. Most NHL sportsbooks have given Hughes the second-best Calder Trophy odds.

Logan Cooley, Coyotes

Cooley is in a similar boat as Hughes. He was drafted in 2022 but played a year of college at the University of Minnesota, scoring 22 goals and supplying 38 assists. With Arizona essentially in rebuild mode, Cooley will be the center of attention and has all the opportunity to enjoy a breakout campaign in Year One. In his preseason debut, Cooley scored twice, instantly showing why he could be special. While Arizona may be poor defensively, there is a really promising core of forwards and Cooley is among the best. He’s a great goal-scorer and a viable playmaker. There is no reason he can’t put up a bunch of points this season. It remains to be seen if he can outdo Bedard, though. 

Adam Fantilli, Blue Jackets

Let’s not kid ourselves. The Columbus Blue Jackets aren’t good. That’s why they were able to select USA standout Adam Fantilli with their top pick in the 2023 draft. And just like Cooley, Fantilli is fresh off a dominant college season and will get lots of chances to shine at the NHL level from day one. And at center, the Blue Jackets lack legitimate talent. That’s why Fantilli should skate on the top line. His size and skill set will undoubtedly fit in immediately in the league. Expect him to be one of the best players in Columbus. A Calder is very much possible.