The race for the Calder trophy hasn’t been this deep in a long time. With so many rookies in the league this year, the opportunities are endless. Here are some of the prospects and their achievements so far.
(Photo Credit: Erin Hooley)
Connor Bedard - Chicago Blackhawks
Twenty-three games played, eleven goals and nine assists so far is just what everyone expected from this year's first-overall draft pick. Once he cracked the first goal out of the way, Bedard set off. He has been one of the Blackhawks’ most creative outlets so far, and number 98 is just getting started.
Pavel Mintyukov - Anaheim Ducks
This Russian defenseman is riding under the radar so far but in a good way. There hasn’t been much talk about the 2022 draft pick, despite putting up one goal and twelve assists in twenty-four games while averaging around 19 minutes a night. With the absence of Jamie Drysdale, Mintyukov has stepped into this Ducks’ defense quite nicely.
Matthew Poitras - Boston Bruins
Five goals and six assists in twenty-four games, including scoring your first 2 NHL goals in the same game, is impressive for this 2022 draft pick. Playing 3rd line with Danton Heinen and Jake DeBrusk is also a huge help to his development this season. He could definitely be a quiet contender this season.
(Photo Credit: Kyusung Gong)
Leo Carlsson - Anaheim Ducks
This 2023 draft pick has only played in a handful of games this season (16) with the Ducks wanting to watch his progression and development closely with the team. However, that hasn’t stopped him from producing when he gets the chance. He has seven goals and five assists so far and is such a creative, skillful player. And playing on a line with Trevor Zegras and Troy Terry will certainly boost his chances of racking up some more points.
Connor Zary - Calgary Flames
Despite only having played fourteen games so far this season for the Flames after being called up from their AHL team, the Calgary Wranglers, Zary has ejected some energy into this team. Making his debut against the Dallas Stars and scoring his first NHL goal at the same time excited not only him but his whole team. He has three goals and seven assists so far.
(Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES)
Luke Hughes - New Jersey Devils
After playing his first few NHL games the previous season, the last two regular season fixtures, and then some playoff hockey, Hughes is off to a great start so far. Three goals and eleven assists in twenty-two games as a rookie defenseman is pretty impressive. If he continues to develop his defensive skills and chemistry with his linemates, he could have a tremendous season.
Adam Fantilli - Columbus Blue Jackets
The 2023 Hobey Baker Award winner is doing okay for himself so far. Five goals and six assists in twenty-six games for the Blue Jackets. 2nd line center at just 19 years old is impressive, and there is no doubt this kid is going to score goals for fun by the end of the season- an exciting player and an exciting opportunity in front of him.
This 2023-24 season rookie class is full of exciting, creative, refreshing players who are all ready to play at this level. Any hockey fan is lucky to be able to watch them. If you can, try going out to see any of these guys play against your hometown team, or if you’re lucky, maybe they play in your hometown. If that's the case, make sure you cheer even louder.