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Blackhawks place C Connor Bedard on injured reserve with fractured jaw

Chicago rookie sensation has landed on IR after taking a big hit from Brendan Smith in Friday’s game. What does that mean for his Calder Trophy hopes?

Vitek Vanecek of the New Jersey Devils covers the puck during the first period as Connor Bedard of the Chicago Blackhawks looks for the rebound at Prudential Center on January 05, 2024 in Newark, New Jersey. Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The Chicago Blackhawks placed rookie sensation Connor Bedard on injured reserve on Saturday due to a fractured jaw sustained early in Friday’s loss to the New Jersey Devils. Bedard took a big hit up high from Devils D Brendan Smith and was forced to leave the game early in the first period. The Blackhawks would go on to lose the game 4-2.

Chicago also placed forward Nick Foligno on injured reserve due to a fractured left finger. Because of the injured forwards, the Blackhawks made a minor trade with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, acquiring forward Rem Pitlick for a conditional seventh-round pick.

For now, the Blackhawks say the timetable for Bedard to return is 4-6 weeks. The team could be cautious with Bedard, however, considering they aren’t competing for anything this season. The Blackhawks are second-to-last in the overall NHL standings with 24 points in 39 games this season.

With Bedard sidelined, it has less of an impact on the Blackhawks’ season and a greater impact on the Calder Trophy race. Bedard was a heavy favorite to win Rookie of the Year, entering Saturday with 15 goals and 18 assists for 33 points to lead all rookies. Columbus Blue Jackets C Adam Fantilli and Devils D Luke Hughes had the next best odds to win Rookie of the Year behind Bedard. Those two players will get a chance to increase their odds and possibly overtake Bedard for the award.

If the timeline holds true, there’s a chance Bedard returns after the All-Star Break, which is begins late in January-early February. The Blackhawks face the Calgary Flames on Jan. 27 and don’t play again until Feb. 7. That stretch could give Bedard and the team enough time off to get him back. If the timeline is closer to six weeks, that would mean Bedard has a chance to return some time in the middle of February. So let’s say Bedard will miss at least 12-15 games.

If anything, this injury absence could give us a window to actually bet on Bedard to win the Calder again. It’s risky because the Blackhawks could hold Bedard out longer than 4-6 weeks. If that’s the case, missing 20 games could be the “Angel of Death” for Bedard’s Calder chances. But if Bedard returns after missing 12-15 games, he’d still be able to get in the required amount of games to win the trophy. DraftKings Sportsbook has Bedard now at -175 to win the Calder Trophy. Those odds could get even better, so it may be good to wait and see. But that line isn’t bad if Bedard doesn’t miss much time. Again, it’s risky.

As a result, Luke Hughes is being bet up as we write this. The Devils defenseman’s odds to win the Calder are climbing and are now at +500 after being posted again at +750. Minnesota Wild D Brock Faber is also getting some love in the betting market for Calder at +600. It’s going to be tough to keep up with the bets and line movement at this point. We’ll wait for the dust to settle a bit.