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I can’t believe he never won the Calder

Connor Bedard’s quest to win the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie for the 2023/24 season was dealt a setback in early January when he suffered a fractured jaw in the Chicago Blackhawks’ game against the New Jersey Devils. The timetable for his recovery from surgery was six to eight weeks.

Bedard, though, managed to get back in the lineup just short of six weeks later, and as the runaway rookie points leader he’s still the favorite to win the Calder Trophy this season over promising defensemen Brock Faber of the Minnesota Wild and Luke Hughes of the New Jersey Devils.

If Bedard does fall short in the Calder Trophy voting, however, he’d be joining an impressive group of superstar players that failed to grab the accolade. Here’s a look at eight of the most notable ones:

Connor McDavid – Edmonton Oilers

McDavid was an overwhelming Calder Trophy favorite heading into his 2015/16 rookie season, but a fractured clavicle cost him 37 games and the award instead went to Blackhawks forward Artemi Panarin. McDavid had 48 points in 45 games, while Panarin put up 77 points over his 80 games.

Sidney Crosby – Pittsburgh Penguins

Crosby was sensational right out the gates in his rookie season of 2005/06, putting up 39 goals and 102 points in 81 games. Unfortunately for him, his debut campaign coincided with the debut campaign of Alex Ovechkin, who edged him out for the Calder Trophy with 52 goals and 106 points.

Eric Lindros – Philadelphia Flyers

Injuries were the story of Lindros’ career, and in his 1992/93 rookie season he played only 61 games – while still managing to put up 41 goals and 75 points. However, Lindros would have been hard-pressed to claim the Calder that year, as Teemu Selanne had 76 goals and 132 points for the Jets.

Nicklas Lidstrom – Detroit Red Wings

One of the greatest defensemen of the past few decades, Lidstrom impressed immediately as a rookie in the 1991/92 season with 60 points and a +36 rating in 80 games. The Calder Trophy, though, instead went to the Canucks’ Pavel Bure, who had 34 goals and 60 points in 65 games.

Mike Modano – Minnesota North Stars

Modano had 75 points in 80 games for the North Stars in his rookie season of 1989/90, but he finished second in the Calder Trophy voting to the Flames’ Sergei Makarov – who had 86 points in 80 games but was 31 years old. The NHL changed the age criteria for the award after that season.

Joe Sakic – Quebec Nordiques

Sakic didn’t start putting up 100-point seasons until his second NHL campaign with the Nordiques, as he had ‘only’ 62 points in 70 games in his rookie year for the team in 1988/89. That opened the door for Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch to pick up the Calder with 71 points in his 68 games.

Steve Yzerman – Detroit Red Wings

Yzerman had 39 goals and 87 points for the Red Wings in his rookie season in 1983/84, but he was edged in the voting for the Calder Trophy by Sabres goaltender Tom Barrasso who won 26 games with a (good for the 1980s) 2.84 GAA. Barrasso received 35 first-place votes to just 21 for Yzerman.

Wayne Gretzky – Edmonton Oilers

Gretzky scored 51 goals and tied for the league lead with 137 points for the Oilers in his first season in the NHL in 1979/80, winning the Hart Trophy in the process. However, Gretzky was deemed ineligible for the Calder due to his WHA experience, and Bruins d-man Ray Bourque took the award.

With zero championships between his MLB, NHL, and NFL teams over the last 30 years, Dave keeps one foot in the past while shaking his fist at the present. Having provided content to all manner of sports websites over a 20-year career in the industry, Dave brings to Attiq an eye for all things editorial and a disdain for all things New York Yankees. Click here for Dave's posts.