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Bedard, Hughes, Faber named finalists for Calder Trophy

Chicago Blackhawks Connor Bedard - The Canadian Press

The National Hockey League has announced that Chicago Blackhawks forward Connor Bedard, New Jersey Devils defenceman Luke Hughes, and Minnesota Wild defenceman Brock Faber have been named finalists for the Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie.

Bedard is a heavy favourite to win the award despite missing 14 games due to a jaw injury. In 68 games, the first overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft scored 22 goals and 61 points, leading all rookies in both categories. 

“I think what he experienced is unlike anything we’ve seen any rookie (experience), maybe ever in our game,” Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson told The Athletic. “And the way he handled it, the way he didn’t let it impact anything on the ice, didn’t let it impact how he went about his business — it’s extremely impressive.”

The North Vancouver, B.C., native will join Canada at the World Championships in Czechia, his first foray with Canada at the senior level. 

Hughes scored nine goals and added 38 assists in 82 games in his first full season with the Devils. He led the team’s defence in points and finished fourth on the club in assists. His 47 points set a new franchise record for points by a rookie defenceman,  surpassing the previous record of 45 set by Will Butcher in 2017-18.

The 20-year-old led the club in average time-on-ice at 21:28.  The Manchester, New Hampshire native will also participate in the 2024 World Championships, representing the United States. Hughes was originally selected fourth overall by the Devils in the 2021 NHL Draft.

Faber, 21, finished the season with eight goals and 39 assists, matching Hughes with 47 points. The Maple Grove, Minn., native led all rookies with 24:58 average TOI, playing in all situations for the Wild. 

After the season, Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin revealed that Faber played the final two months of the season with fractured ribs. 

"He has emerged as a top-pairing defenseman - he was our top defenseman this year," Guerin said. "That is an unbelievably good thing for our organization going forward."

Faber was originally selected in the second round (45th overall) by the Los Angeles Kings in the 2020 draft and was acquired by the Wild, along with a first-round pick, in exchange for Kevin Fiala in 2022.

Seattle Kraken forward Matty Beniers won the award last season.