Chicago Blackhawks Connor Bedard wins NHL Rookie of the Year honor

The NHL's assumed pick for Rookie of the Year officially earned his crown on Thursday in Las Vegas.

Chicago Blackhawks star rookie Connor Bedard won the Calder Trophy, which honors the NHL Rookie of the Year, on Thursday as part of the NHL's award ceremony.

Bedard won the trophy with 1,808 points. Minnesota's Brock Faber came in second with 1,464 points.

The 18-year-old center is the youngest player in Blackhawks history to win the honor and the first Blackhawks player since Artemi Panarin in 2016 to win the Calder Trophy. The honor also has Bedard following in Patrick Kane's footsteps, as Kane won the Trophy in 2008.

Bedard, who was billed as a generational talent ahead of the 2023 NHL Draft, has lived up to the hype in impressive fashion.

In 68 games, Bedard recorded 61 points on 22 goals and 39 assists on a Hawks team that finished with the second-to-worst record in the NHL. 

Bedard led the league in points and goals as a rookie, and tied for the league lead in assists with Minnesota's Brock Faber.

There were some who openly argued that Faber should win the Trophy, mainly because of how Faber stepped in and anchored the Minnesota Wild's defense after injuries to Jonas Brodin and Jared Spurgeon. 

However, Bedard also led the league in all those categories while missing 14 games with a broken jaw. Had he not missed an entire month of the season, his numbers 

When Bedard returned to the Hawks' lineup at full health, Bedard led Chicago to a 7-7 record in the month of March.

That might not seem like a massive feat. However, it gave the Blackhawks, with a roster depleted by injury and in need of more skill players, a glimpse of the effect that Bedard can have on the NHL and on the Blackhawks.

Bedard, who turns 19 on July 17, is too young to drink legally to celebrate winning the trophy. He also isn't experiencing with as much as attention as last year when Bedard entered the draft as the unquestioned top draft pick.

"It's been more quiet this summer, which has been pretty nice," Bedard told reporters after his honor.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon won home the Hart Memorial Trophy as the league's MVP and the Ted Lindsay Award as the league’s most outstanding player as decided by the NHL Players Association.

Now, the Blackhawks can shift their focus on helping Bedard.

Chicago has already made a trade for Canucks forward Ilya Mikheyev, who came to the Blackhawks in a salary cap shedding move for Vancouver. Mikheyev's best season was in 2021-2022 when he scored 21 goals in 52 games for the Maple Leafs.

With a veteran in hand, the Sky can focus on adding more talent around Bedard with the second and 18th overall picks in the 2024 NHL Draft.

The first round of the NHL Draft is Friday evening.