The Chicago Blackhawks are entering a new era. The Connor Bedard era. At least that's what they hope will happen. The Rangers thought they'd be three years into the Alexis Lafreniere era and well, they aren't.
Chicago is excited about what Bedard can do for their franchise. That excitement reached a fever pitch after the WHL product showed off his wicked release and scored a hat-trick at a Blackhawks vs. Blues prospects game.
🚨HAT TRICK CONNOR BEDARD🚨 pic.twitter.com/ltdmshwdPp— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) September 17, 2023
Through the preseason, Bedard led the Blackhawks in production with five points (a goal and four helpers). In all situations, he also led the team in individual expected goals (1.72), individual scoring chances (14) and individual high-danger chances (6).
Bedard looked like the dominant player Chicago believed they were drafting.
Another Generational Talent?
Here's what the books set as the line for Bedard's goals and points totals this year.
|Goals||31.5 (-115)||31.5 (-115)|
|Points||69.5 (-115)||69.5 (-115)|
Since 2000-01 eight forwards have scored at least 32 goals in an NHL season. Chicago won't lead the league in offense, but they're still going to score 200+ goals on the year. With Bedard's shot and the opportunities he'll get on a weak Hawks top-six, I wouldn't doubt he pops in 30+.
What about his points totals? His 69.5 points seem like a fair line considering how just about any hockey pundit is wax poetic for Bedard. But 70+ points in the NHL, for a rookie, is quite rare.
Since 2000-01 only seven rookies have scored 70 or more points. Zoom in to the last decade and only two rookie forwards hit 70+ points in a season.
Of course, that doesn't count Connor McDavid who had 48 points in 45 games as a rookie. If not for that broken collar bone he most likely would have been on this list. But we'll never truly know.
But the point remains the same. A forward rarely hits 70+ points in their rookie season. Unless the kid is another "generational talent".
It's impossible to know for sure, but looking at NHLe Bedard is following in the footsteps of other generational talents. NHLe is a stat that is used to predict how productive a player from any league in the world will be in their first year of NHL hockey. It's far from perfect but it gives us a level playing field to compare. And well when we compare Bedard's NHLe to guys like Crosby, Ovechkin and McDavid, he's neck-and-neck with those phenoms.
|Sidney Crosby (QMJHL)||62GP, 168Pts||25.1|
|Alex Ovechkin (KHL)||53GP, 24Pts||28.7|
|Connor McDavid (OHL)||47GP, 120Pts||30.2|
|Connor Bedard (WHL)||57GP, 143Pts||29.0|
Again, not a perfect stat but it does show that Bedard was performing at the same level as some of the top players in the NHL before hitting the show. So it gives me confidence that Bedard could be one of those rookies who scores 70 points in year one.
First Goal In NHL
If you're looking for more than just Bedard's player props, you can also bet on what team he'll score his first NHL goal against.
|Team (Date of Game)||Odds|
|Pittsburgh Penguins (Oct. 10)||+150|
|Boston Bruins (Oct. 11)||+275|
|Montreal Canadiens (Oct. 14)||+450|
|Toronto Maple Leafs (Oct. 16)||+750|
|Colorado Avalanche (Oct. 19)||+1100|
|@Vegas Golden Knights (Oct. 21)||+1100|
I've gone on the record saying I don't like the Penguins' defense after getting Erik Karlsson. The former Senator and Shark is excellent offensively but on the defensive side of the game, he's...well...not great.
Scoring against Pittsburgh would be very poetic. A figurative passing of the torch from Crosby to Bedard. And with what I believe to be a poor Pittsburgh defense, that first Bedard NHL goal is going in against Pittsburgh. No doubt.
Likely Calder Trophy Winner
The season certainly ends with Chicago outside of the playoff picture. Even if Bedard is one of the better players in the NHL. This is step 1 in the rebuild process for the Hawks. But the franchise could still pick up some hardware at the end of the year.
Bedard is the current odds-on favorite to win the 2023-24 Calder Trophy:
|Logan Cooley (Arizona)||+800|
|Luke Hughes (New Jersey)||+900|
|Adam Fantilli (Columbus)||+1100|
|Devon Levi (Buffalo)||+1200|
Odds as of October 10
At -140, books are giving Bedard a 58% implied odds to win Rookie of the Year. The next closest, Arizona's Logan Cooley, is at a comically distant 11%. This is Bedard's Trophy to lose.
But I worry about his supporting cast in Chicago. Luke Hughes for example, joins a stacked New Jersey Devils side that isn't just fighting for relevancy in the NHL, but for the Stanley Cup itself. Hughes is going to put up a lot of points. The Devils had the fifth-best offense in the NHL last year after all.
Guys like Bedard don't join teams ready to compete so scoring a boatload of points is going to be tough.
I still think he's going to win, but the distance between Bedard and guys in the field like Hughe, should be much shorter.