The Rookies Who Could Beat Bedard for Calder

David Berding / Getty Images Sport / Getty

There is no doubt that Connor Bedard is a generational talent. If he takes after generational stars like Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby, he has years of hockey success in front of him. But is Bedard a shoo-in for the Calder Trophy at the end of this season? Here’s the case for two Minnesota Wild rookies who could give him a run for their money.

What is the Calder Trophy?

The Calder Trophy is awarded at the end of each season and serves as the “Rookie of the Year” award for the NHL. It is awarded to “the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition in the NHL.” A rookie is defined as a player 26 years of age or younger. They cannot play over 25 regular season games in the previous season, excluding playoff games. 

The trophy is named for Frank Calder, the first president of the NHL. In the beginning, the winner was decided by Calder himself. It is currently voted on by Professional Hockey Writers’ Association members, along with the other season-end trophies.

Minnesota Wild Rookies

This year, the Wild have two rookies, and both are outstanding in their own roles. Marco Rossi and Brock Faber are both in their rookie year despite having played games last season. Rossi played 19 games in the 2022-23 season before being sent back down to the Iowa Wild. Faber played two regular-season games before playing in all six playoff games that the MN Wild played last year.

Faber and Rossi could not be more opposite, but they both have one thing in common: at the beginning of the Wild’s season, they were the two players consistently holding the team together. While the superstars of the team were having trouble scoring and the special teams weren’t doing what they needed to do, the two rookies came to work every day and managed to get things done.

Marco Rossi

Last year, there was plenty of social media buzz calling Rossi a bust, but all he needed was some confidence, a summer full of strength training, and changing his skating stride to burst onto the NHL scene for good. The road to the NHL was tough for Rossi. After a bout with Covid that led to myocarditis, Rossi was unable to exercise for months on end. Add to that a tough start in the NHL, and it could’ve led to a high draft pick who, through no fault of his own, was unable to play at an NHL level. Rossi, however, took all of that as motivation to keep getting better, and it worked.

This year, Rossi has worked his way from the third-line up to centering Mats Zuccarello and Kirill Kaprizov on the top line. His time on the ice has been slowly increasing throughout the season. In 22 games this season, Rossi has 14 points (eight goals and six assists), including a two-goal game just a few days ago against the Chicago Blackhawks and Bedard himself. 

He’s currently ranked second among rookies for both points and goals, behind Bedard. While he is slightly behind Bedard offensively, he has become more defensively-minded this season. After the strength training over the summer, Rossi has been noticeably able to battle players, even ones much bigger than him. As long as voting for the Calder isn’t solely based on points or media hype, that could give Rossi a slight edge over Bedard in the Calder race.

Brock Faber

There was no doubt that Brock Faber had the makings of a great NHL defenseman. But it was still a surprise that Faber was able to step out of losing the NCAA National Championship and straight into the Minnesota Wild lineup. Not only that, but once he was in the lineup, he wasn’t taken back out. He even played all of the playoff games with the Wild after only two regular NHL games. 

The only question was whether Faber could not only step in next to one of the league’s best shut-down defensemen in Jonas Brodin but also whether he could keep up with the grind of an 82-game NHL season. So far, both of those questions can be answered with a resounding ‘yes’ because Faber is not only one of the top defensive rookies but also a top defenseman in the league as a whole.

Faber came in more defensively-minded but has also started to chip in offensively, making him a more well-rounded player. He currently has 10 points this season (1 goal and nine assists). Faber is also being looked at to run the second power-play unit. When Jared Spurgeon (who normally runs the top power-play unit) was injured during the game against the Blackhawks, Alex Goligoski was elevated to the top unit, and Faber stepped into his spot. He was immediately noticeable as a player able to efficiently run a power play and after the terrible special teams at the beginning of the year, Faber is a great addition to the power play.

Can They Realistically Win Over Bedard?

This is an interesting question because this is voted on by a large group of hockey writers. Will they take defensiveness into account when voting? Will they be able to look past Bedard and what will most likely be an amazing rookie point total at the end of the season? It’s been done before. Connor McDavid ended up third in the Calder running during his rookie year. (Artemi Panarin was the Calder winner that season.)

Dom Luszczyszyn of the Athletic ran the numbers for several of the NHL awards, including the Calder. It is still early in the season, but there is enough data to run some of the numbers. Here is his graphic of the top 10 rookies in the running for the Calder Trophy. 

Chart via Dom Luszczyszyn/The Athletic

If nothing else, this graphic shows that Bedard shouldn’t instantly be assumed to win the Calder Trophy. There are plenty of other things to take into account when comparing rookies. The NHL is only about a quarter of the way through the season, so there are still plenty of games to go. But there are plenty of rookies who can give Bedard a run for his money and deserve some of the attention as the season progresses. 

For more about the rookies and the Minnesota Wild in general, listen to Her Wild Side Hockey Podcast.

Hockey, Hockey, Everywhere! That's Why I've Been So Busy! Her Wild Side Hockey Podcast

In this episode, Mikki talks about the abundance of amazing hockey between the NHL Playoffs and the IIHF Men's World Championships. She also touches on a few fun facts and rambles a bit too much after too many days between podcast episodes. Links:Her Wild Side Merch Shop!Ticketmaster Affiliate LinkSocial Media:TwitterInstagramFacebookFor more from us, visit Inside The RinkHow to support us and our sponsors:Columbia Sports ApparelESPN+ SubscriptionFanaticsDraft Kings – CODE ITR   
  1. Hockey, Hockey, Everywhere! That's Why I've Been So Busy!
  2. It's The Playoffs, Baby!
  3. Hockey Culture is Disgusting and Needs to Change
  4. A Post-Mortem for the MN Wild Season
  5. Trading Gustavsson Would Be the Dumbest Idea Ever

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