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Connor Bedard's Third 'NHL Rookie of the Month' Honor Ends All Calder Trophy Debates

Mario Tirabassi Avatar
April 2, 2024

Connor Bedard is your NHL Rookie of the Month, again.

After posting four goals and 13 assists in 14 games in the month of March, Bedard received the NHL’s Rookie of the Month honors for the third time this season. With the honors coming in November, December, and now March, Bedard is the first rookie to earn the honor three times in a season since Connor McDavid did it in the 2015-16 seas0n.

Unlike McDavid in that 2015-16 season though, Bedard is going to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year.

A moment of silence for Minnesota Wild fan groans and grumbles…ok.

The month of March was highlighted for Bedard with a five-point effort on March 12th when he tallied a goal and four assists against the Anaheim Ducks in a 7-2 win for Chicago. It was part of his four multi-point games in the month.

A couple notes from the NHL press release about Bedard’s March honors:
– Bedard set a Blackhawks franchise record for assists in a calendar month by a rookie (13), ahead of Brandon Saad (12) in March 2013.
– Bedard became the third Blackhawks rookie to compile at least 17 points in a single month, joining Steve Larmer in December 1982 (19) and March 1983 (17) as well as Jeremy Roenick (18) in December 1989.
– His March 12th game against Anaheim was the fifth five-point game by an 18-year-old in NHL history and helped him reach the 20-goal and 50-point marks of the season.
– He became the third-fastest Chicago player, from the start of his NHL career, to hit the 50-point mark, joining Bill Mosienko, Terry Ruskowski, and Eddie Olczyk.

Connor Bedard previously won the NHL Rookie of the Month honors in November and December, missing out on October’s honor to Lukáš Dostál of Anaheim and February’s honor for Pyotr Kochetkov of Carolina. No honor was handed out in January. In October, Bedard started his NHL career with six points in nine games and in February, he returned from missing 14 games after a broken jaw suffered in January and posted seven points in seven games.

I’ll excuse the October “snub” in favor of Dostál and the fact that he only played half a month in February, but had Bedard not been injured on January 5th, can we all agree that the pace he had been playing on and has been playing on since returning would have likely nabbed him those honors in January and February, too? Can we end this silly facade of the Bedard vs. Faber narrative surrounding the NHL Rookie of the Year award?

Since the NHL started awarding the ‘Rookie of the Month’ in the 1983-84 season, only three players have ever earned the honor three times in a single-season: Teemu Selanne (1992-93), Alex Ovechkin (2005-06), and Connor McDavid (2015-16). Selanne and Ovechkin won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year in those seasons with McDavid finishing third in voting after missing nearly half of the 2015-16 season, while still putting up 48 points in 45 games. That scoring pace would have put him at 87 points over an 82-game season, ten ahead of the 2015-16 Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin’s 77 points.

Bedard’s plus/minus rating of a -39 is the only argument against him right now and who in their right mind cares about plus/minus? For those that do care, he is playing 19:42 minutes a night on arguably the worst team in the NHL, or second-worst by standings. They’re a team that is going to get scored on, a lot, and when you’re playing the most minutes of any forward on the team, you’re going to be the victim of being on the ice when you get scored on. Also, he’s 18-years-old in the NHL, still learning the nuances of the defensive game at the highest level of professional hockey and he’s improving late in the season.

Connor Bedard is fifth in the NHL in scoring amongst players aged 22 or younger. His 57 points in 60 games trail only Dallas’ Wyatt Johnston (59), Detroit’s Lucas Raymond (61), Carolina’s Seth Jarvis (62), and Ottawa’s Tim Stützle (69), with all four of those players having played 73 or more games this season. Bedard’s 0.95 points per game pace is tied with Stützle for the best among 42 NHL players aged 22 or younger who have played in more than 20 games this season.

That’s among guys who are older than him and have played at least one prior full season in the NHL, for the most part. Not just rookies.

Among rookies, he leads or is near the top in every major category:
– 21 goals (1st)
– 36 assists (1st)
– 57 points (1st)
– 0.95 points per game (1st)
– 18 even-strength goals (t-1st)
– 38 even-strength points (1st)
– 3 power-play goals (t-3rd)
– 19 power-play points (2nd)
– 190 shots on goal (1st)
– 19:42 TOI (6th Overall/1st Forward)

Again I say, can we be done with the silliness?

Bedard and the Blackhawks close the season with eight games in April. Bedard’s 57 points currently rank seventh all-time by a Chicago rookie in a single season. He would need six more points to pass Darryl Sutter (62 in 1980-81) for sixth and ten points to pass Jeremy Roenick (66 in 1989-90) for fifth. At his current scoring pace since returning from injury (1.14 points per game), Bedard could be on pace for nine points over the final eight games of the season and could potentially finish with the third-best Blackhawks rookie scoring pace at 0.97 points per game, behind only Denis Savard (0.99 in 1980-81) and Steve Larmer (1.13 in 1982-83).

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