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Blackhawks' Connor Bedard named finalist for 2024 Calder Trophy

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Chicago Blackhawks forward Connor Bedard has been named a finalist for the 2024 Calder Trophy, awarded "to the player selected as the most proficient in his first year of competition," the NHL announced Tuesday.

Bedard, who was selected by Chicago with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, was the most-hyped draft prospect since Connor McDavid in 2015. And he not only lived up to expectations in Year 1 but he exceeded them.

Bedard, 18, led all rookies in goals (22), assists (39) and points (61) despite missing 14 games with a fractured jaw. He did so as the 14th-youngest player in NHL history.

"It was incredible," Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson recently said of Bedard's rookie season. "The weight that was put on his shoulders, given his profile walking into the league, it's really difficult to handle. I don't think anyone can adequately quantify the degree of difficulty of what he had to deal with off the ice, to then go and perform on the ice. We work with him to make it as seamless as possible. And, for the most part, I think we accomplished that.

"But having said that, he's an 18-year-old player that had to go through more media attention than any player in recent memory, and probably more than any player entering the league ever, just given the social media age and the age that we're in right now. And so I thought it was extremely impressive."

If he wins the award — which is expected — Bedard would become the ninth player in Blackhawks history to take home the Calder Trophy, joining Ed Belfour, Cully Dahlstrom, Tony Esposito, Bill Hay, Patrick Kane, Steve Larmer, Ed Litzenberger and Artemi Panarin.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Brock Faber and New Jersey Devils defenseman Luke Hughes are the other two finalists. The winner will be announced at the 2024 NHL Awards.

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