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Connor Bedard and the Calder Trophy: We Were Flat Wrong

Back in mid-January, not long after Connor Bedard suffered a jaw injury that was set to put him out for six to eight weeks, I put out a column detailing why Luke Hughes and Brock Faber were better Calder Trophy bets. The point was that Bedard was going to be out enough time to open up the window for someone else, and Hughes and Faber were establishing themselves as elite young players who had the playing time to sneak up on Bedard and his high-end playmaking.

Whelp, I was wrong.

Not that Hughes and Faber were and are good players, or that someone other than Bedard at that time would be a solid Calder bet. No, I was wrong about Bedard’s timeline, his ability to get back in gear and how wide the gap between him and everyone else was and remains. So now I gotta eat crow and explain how, yes, Connor Bedard is the runaway favorite. Here goes.

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Why Connor Bedard Now WILL Win Calder Trophy

Calder Trophy Odds

Odds from BetMGM

Connor Bedard-350
Brock Faber+325
Luke Hughes+900
Marco Rossi+1600
Connor Zary+3000
Accurate as of Feb. 18, 2024

At the time of our last Calder odds update, Bedard was pretty heavily favored at -185 on BetMGM. However, the next grouping was close enough together that it seemed plausible that one of a couple guys could emerge as a frontrunner while Bedard was out — in particular Hughes at +475 and Faber at +700.

But then Hughes only managed one goal and three assists in the last month, while Faber maintained his high assist rate to jump Hughes in the odds. At this point, Faber is the only other rookie competing with Bedard at all.

But the use of “competing” in that sentence is really stretching the definitions.

How Connor Bedard Managed to End the Calder Trophy Race

First of all, Bedard ended up being out for a bit less time than anticipated. A very low-end guess for games missed was 15, and I thought 20-plus was in play — Bedard ended up sitting for 14. Now, that’s not way off the conservative timeline, but any bet on Hughes or Faber then banked on Bedard missing a long period.

Bedard had a comfortable lead among rookies in points when he went out. But 14 games was still a good amount of time for Faber, Hughes or Rossi to make a move on him, and none of them really did. Bedard still leads Faber by 3 points and Rossi by two goals, and even though Faber pulled well ahead for the assists lead, Bedard’s goal-scoring advantage kept him ahead in points and likely will do so for the remainder.

And that’s because, at least for now, Bedard has defied the other prediction I made: That the hit that broke his jaw would end up leading to a more timid rookie when he returned. Alas, through two games since his return, Bedard has a goal and two assists. Nothing has really slipped.

Of course, the whole narrative/fame thing is also strongly with Bedard — he’s simply more well known than Faber, even if the latter has made a massive name for himself. Is it fair? No, but it is an extra hill for Faber to overcome.

Ultimately, Faber will need to keep his assists up and hope for a Bedard slip. But given how Bedard has maintained his playmaking pace from Day 1, this race seems pretty much over and done with.

So … Is it Worth Betting on Connor Bedard? Or Brock Faber?

The basic answer is, as a standalone bet, probably not. The value is simply not there on either end. If Faber keeps up with Bedard statistically and his odds dip into the +600 range or longer, then a sprinkle would be worth it; Faber definitely is not 100% out of this race, more like 98%.

As for Bedard, barring another injury, -350 is probably as low as his odds are going to be the rest of the way. If you really want to place a winning bet on the Calder Trophy, grab Bedard at -350 now and use it as part of a futures parlay like the Stanley Cup winner — we will cover some good Cup bets later this week.

Best 2023-24 Calder Trophy Pick: Connor Bedard (-350 at BetMGM) as a Parlay Piece

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