The 2023-24 Calder Trophy race should be one of the most exciting in recent memory. While Connor Bedard is undeniably the runaway favorite, there is a suite of other talented rookies that could challenge Bedard’s title. The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler and Harman Dayal recently ranked their top-20 Calder candidates. Bedard unsurprisingly took the top spot, with Arizona Coyotes center Logan Cooley, Buffalo Sabres goalie Devon Levi, and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Adam Fantilli making up the rest of the top four. The list also included names like Luke Hughes, Matthew Knies, and Joel Hofer.
The list featured more Anaheim Ducks prospects than any other team, with Leo Carlsson (#7) and Olen Zellweger (#9) ranked in the Top 10, while Lukas Dostal, Jackson LaCombe, and Pavel Mintyukov were all listed as honorable mentions. The Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, and Chicago Blackhawks were among other teams with multiple prospects featured.
Some other notes from around the NHL:
- Ty Anderson, a reporter for Boston radio show 98.5 The Sports Hub, shared that one team approached the Bruins with a, “fair, market value return” for reigning Vezina Trophy-winner Linus Ullmark. Ullmark posted a league-best save percentage (.938) and goals-against-average (1.89) last season. He followed it up with a .896 save percentage and 3.33 goals-against-average while appearing in six of Boston’s seven postseason games. And while he didn’t walk out of the postseason with any hardware, he confidently won the Vezina, receiving 22 votes to win it where no one else received more than three. Ullmark is signed to a $5MM cap hit through the next two seasons.
- The Bridgeport Islanders have signed 32-year-old forward Tanner Fritz. Fritz has been a minor league player since 2015-16 when he split time between the ECHL’s Missouri Mavericks and the Islanders AHL affiliate. His performances that season – notably his 12 points in 19 AHL games – were enough to earn him a consistent AHL role. The Grand Prairie, Alberta native got a taste of NHL experience in 2017-18, appearing in 34 games with the Islanders. He tacked on an additional eight NHL games in the following year but has been in the AHL ever since. With this deal, Fritz will remain a core piece of the Islanders depth chart, after recording 10 points in nine AHL playoff games last season.