The Blackhawks will see Connor Bedard face Luke Hughes early in the season.
Luke Hughes is the only defenseman on this list. He is also the only player on this list with actual NHL experience. After his season at the University of Michigan, he came and played two regular season games with the New Jersey Devils who selected him 4th overall in 2021.
The season ended for New Jersey when Hughes scored his first career NHL goal in overtime of game 82. It was a remarkable end to a great season for them. Luke is also teammates with his brother Jack Hughes who is an NHL superstar as well.
Luke Hughes didn’t dress for New Jersey in the first round against the New York Rangers but they inserted him in round two against the Carolina Hurricanes and he was amazing. He will be, when healthy, a staple in their lineup for the next decade.
Hughes is going to have a very good chance of winning the Calder Trophy. He brings experience that you can only gain by playing and most of the other rookies in the league don’t have it. He is also on an elite team which will help him produce.
Now, these four players (Bedard, Fantilli, Cooley, Hughes) are not the only four that can win this thing. There are going to be tons of good rookies but these three present the biggest threat to Bedard at this moment in time.