The Calder Trophy is awarded to the NHL’s best rookie, and with the 2023 NHL Draft in the rearview mirror, we’ve broken down the favourites to win the award in the coming season.
The 2023-24 NHL season is quite a unique one as it features the expected generational talent of Connor Bedard, who has by far the shortest odds to take home the Calder.
There isn’t much that hasn’t been said about the young phenomenom, and everything surrounding him has created immense hype.
Chicago Blackhawks fans were ecstatic when they landed the #1 overall pick in the NHL Draft Lottery, as they look to rebuild the franchise around Bedard.
The team he’s on helps his chances of winning the award.
The Blackhawks have been one of the worst teams in the NHL the last few seasons, so if Bedard is able to bring them back to relevance, that will only add to his resume.
It’s also important to note that when wagering on these types of awards, you also have to take into account the voters themselves. Given how Bedard is already touted as the greatest prospect since Connor McDavid, his favorability is already high.
A skater that was neither selected in the most recent NHL Draft nor played last season is Logan Cooley.
The American-born player was drafted #3 overall in the 2022 NHL Draft by the Arizona Coyotes, a franchise that desperately needs help.
Clayton Keller is the shining star for the ‘Yotes, but his broken leg after sliding into the boards last season derailed their season even further.
Arizona also lost Shayne Gostisbehere, who was another one of their top skaters. It’s going to be difficult for Cooley and his lefty shot to turn things around in the desert, but like Bedard, the ability to do so will go a long way for his ability to win the Calder Trophy.
Speaking of the Blackhawks looking for a turnaround, a team that had one of the greatest year-to-year turnarounds in recent memory is the New Jersey Devils.
After not even sniffing the postseason in 2021-22, they finished just one point shy of a Metropolitan Division title last year.
That was primarily led by one of the young, future faces of the NHL - Jack Hughes.
His younger brother, Luke, was called up to the team at the tail end of the last season, so it may seem strange that he’s on this list. However, Luke is still eligible for the award after playing in just two regular season games.
The younger Hughes recorded two points across those two games, and even recorded two assists in his first-ever playoff action.
At just 19 years old, he’ll have his big brother to link up with, along with veteran Timo Meier, who the Devils re-signed this offseason.
There’s no denying that the 2023 NHL Draft was the Connor Bedard sweepstakes, but following him, there was plenty of hype surrounding Michigan’s Adam Fantilli.
He was the nation’s best collegiate skater last year, and he looked destined to go #2 overall to the Anaheim Ducks.
In fact, there were even Ducks fans in person at the draft already sporting custom-made Fantilli jerseys.
Unfortunately, those will be collecting dust, as Anaheim ended up passing on the Michigan star.
Instead, he was selected #3 by the last city in the world any Michigan fan wants to visit - Columbus. He'll be teaming up with Johnny Gaudreau on the Blue Jackets.
Interestingly enough, Fantilli stated that the one team he’d love to go to was the Jackets months prior to the draft, even while he was still sporting his Wolverine maize and blue.
Yet again, this is a team that is going to be tough to turn around, but injuries have plagued them. Improved goaltending and health could be the key factors in Fantilli having a strong rookie campaign.
The Buffalo Sabres' 21-year-old goaltender has spent the last two years playing against top collegiate competition in the Hockey East conference with Northeastern University, where he has racked up conference Goaltender of the Year awards in both seasons.
He's also an eight-time Goaltender of the Week winner in the conference, and he won the Hockey East Player of the Year award last season.
While Levi's save percentage dropped from a sky-high .952 in his freshman year to .933 in his sophomore year, the lower percentage is still good enough to rival the best goalies in the NHL.
If he adjusts smoothly and can replicate his college form to improve last season's sixth-worst defense by goals allowed, he could rival Bedard for the trophy.
Returns exclude Bet Credits wager. T&Cs, time limits and exclusions apply