Connor Bedard remains the heavy favorite to win the Calder Trophy, but Leo Carlsson’s hat trick with the Anaheim Ducks on Friday night reminds us that he has competition.
The new generation of young talent looks very promising. Here are 11 rookies who have stood out since the start of the season.
The Chicago Blackhawks prodigy hasn’t disappointed so far and may have been wrong to put up four points on the night, including two goals, against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It is close to a point per game after 12 games.
He is the favorite because his position in the first line and in the first wave of the power play is practically guaranteed in Chicago.
CONNOR BEDARD VS THUNDER –
The Anaheim Ducks decided to innovate with an approach that has become popular in the NBA: workload management.
Therefore, the Ducks do not intend to use Carlsson in all of their games during the first half of the season. The idea is to give the youngster time to adjust to the rigors of the National Hockey League.
One thing is certain, Carlsson is effective when he is with the Ducks. After nine games, he already has six goals. Who knows, he might warm to Bedard if we give him a full-time mandate.
Leo Carlsson scores three goals –
The Russian defender won nine places after Juraj Slafkovsky shattered expectations in 2022. At just 19 years old, he has cemented his spot on the Ducks’ second team and is playing nearly 20 minutes per game.
Nine points in 13 games and a difference of +2.
He was one of three players considered by the Montreal Canadiens first overall in 2022, along with Slafkowski and Shane Wright.
He scored only one goal in 13 games, but showed his passing ability with seven assists.
Very nice pass by Cooley –
The center has seven points, but only two goals in 13 games. We use him in the center of the second line and we should expect him to produce.
His ice time has decreased in recent games. The Ducks caused a surprise by preferring Carlsson to Fantilli. For now, they do not regret their choice.
The youngest of the Hughes brothers is not bitten by worms. Average playing time 19 minutes and 38 seconds. Seven points in 13 games.
He has recently been employed by veteran Brendan Smith, which does not please New Jersey Devils fans.
A 2022 second-round pick usually has no business playing in the National League. But Poitras had a sensational camp with the Bruins and gave them no reason to bring him back to Guelph this season with seven points, including four goals, in 13 games.
Failing to draft Cole Caufield in 2019 when they had the chance, the Philadelphia Flyers bounced back by taking Brink, another talented wing, in the second round.
Brink is currently third in scoring among rookies with three goals and five assists, tied with Cooley and Luke Evangelist.
Luke the Evangelist
The Nashville Predators lack offensive depth. The Evangelists therefore benefit from good casting, used within the second trio as well as on the first wave of numerical advantage.
He already announced his colors last year with 15 points, including seven goals, in 24 games.
He is not a very spectacular player, but we have no choice but to include him because his average minutes are incredible: 23 minutes and 25 seconds per game at only 21 years old.
Faber and Jonas Brodin form the Minnesota Wild’s first defense pair.
An imposing 6-foot-3, 217-pound forward who is also capable of finesse. He was a finalist for the Hobey Baker Trophy as the NCAA MVP last year – Fantilli received that honor. We saw an example of what he can do last spring with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He currently plays with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner. We cannot rule out his candidacy.
Honorable mentions: Marco Rossi, Ridly Greig, Kevin Korchinski