By now you’ve seen what he can do. Whether it’s a hat trick in the Tom Kurvers Prospects Showcase, or sending perfect passes to teammates in a scrimmage, Connor Bedard is the real deal.
But in a league that is seeing younger talent rise to the top quicker, is he the sure bet who is already an odds-on favorite to run away with the league’s best rookie title?
Bedard would be the first to say he doesn’t care about the individual accolades, but the fans certainly do. The same fanbase who has absolutely fallen in love with their new hero.
saucer pass is out of this world 🛸 pic.twitter.com/rX4rNvu0Fj
— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) September 26, 2023
If he stays healthy, he’s for sure the favorite. But there’s a couple other names that could push Bedard throughout the season–if they stay healthy.
If you watched any of the hockey from down under, Logan Cooley may very well be one of emerging talents who could potentially give Bedard a run for his money.
Cooley Dazzled in Australia while Bedard Did in Chicago
While Bedard’s passing and shooting has captivated far and wide, Cooley was making a few moves of his own that were entertaining the Aussies and the rest of the world:
LOGAN COOLEY HAS ARRIVED ‼️ pic.twitter.com/vHGGzHWZuk
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) September 23, 2023
He’s definitely put the league on notice and he’s also a compelling case as to why if he’s consistent like this, there’s a potential threat to Bedard’s direct path to the league’s top prize for a rookie.
Cooley was not only impressive in college, but he’s also going to have some top shelf talent with him in Arizona. Clayton Kelly likely hasn’t gotten the fair attention he deserves playing for the Arizona Coyotes. He quietly had 87 points (37-49) and the idea of him on the top line with Cooley is certainly something that could give the Blackhawks fits down the road.
It would be a dynamic duo that could not only light the lamp on a consistent basis, but also take the league by storm.
And potentially net Cooley some hardware.
What about Adam Fantilli?
He can certainly challenge and winning the Hobey Baker last season isn’t exactly anything to sneeze at. Besides that, he likely got a better chance of producing more with Mike Babcock no longer being there which of course came with its own share of issues that may have put the clamps on a productive season.
Fantilli has a ton of talent surrounding him, too. Perhaps its Johnny Gaudreau or Patrik Laine on either side of him. What about teaming up with fellow Wolverine Kent Johnson? If Fantilli sees his production supersized, much of it comes with a mutually beneficial situation with his skilled teammates, too.
He also notched a hat trick in a prospects game against the Detroit Red Wings.
Though Bedard seems the odds on favorite to run away with it, both Cooley and Fantilli have their reasons to challenge for it. But when Bedard faces off against them, it’s not only the voters who will be taking note.
It’s absolutely must-watch hockey no matter who you’re rooting for.