NHL Notebook: Blackhawks’ Connor Bedard lands on injured reserve with broken jaw following hit and a look at front runners for the Hart Trophy

Photo credit:Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
Aleena Aksenchuk
6 months ago
The Chicago Blackhawks have announced that forwards Nick Foligno and Connor Bedard have been placed on injured reserve on Saturday morning.
Bedard, the 18-year-old Blackhawks superstar, suffered a broken jaw after a heavy hit by New Jersey Devils defenceman Brendan Smith during the first period of a 4-2 loss to on Friday. Bedard headed for the locker room, gripping his jaw, and did not return to the game.
Foligno also left the game on Friday against the Devils early with an injury after logging 7:26 of ice time over 10 shifts. In the second period, the forward dropped the gloves with Smith, leaving the game with what has been announced as a fractured left finger following the tilt.
Both players join a lengthy list of Blackhawks players on the injured reserve, including Taylor Hall, Seth Jones, Tyler Johnson, Andreas Athanasiou, and Anthony Beauvillier. The Blackhawks are yet to provide a timetable for either Bedard or Foligno’s return.
Bedard was Chicago’s first overall selection at the 2023 NHL Draft and has excelled in his debut season. The youngster leads the club with 15 goals and 33 points in 39 games so far this season and was selected to represent the Blackhawks at the 2024 NHL All-Star game in February in Toronto.
Foligno signed with the club last summer after his pending UFA rights were traded by the Boston Bruins to the Blackhawks, alongside Hall, sending Ian Mitchell and Alec Regula to the Bruins. The NHL veteran has eight goals and 17 points across 39 games so far this season.
As a result of the loss and losing two of their top-performing forwards, the Blackhawks made a reactionary trade, acquiring Rem Pitlick from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in the 2026 NHL Draft.
As a Blackhawk, Pitlick will have a better opportunity to earn NHL minutes than in Pittsburgh. This season, the forward has exclusively played for the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins in the American Hockey League, where he has recorded 24 points throughout 32 games.
The Blackhawks currently sit just one place from the bottom as the 31st-place team in the NHL with a record of 11-26-2 and 24 points throughout 39 games. Injuries to two of the club’s top-performing forwards won’t help their case.


Current front runners for the Hart Trophy

As the halfway point of the 2023-24 campaign approaches, the conversation about the NHL awards has officially begun. This time last year the round-table crew at Daily Faceoff was already sure the Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid was taking home the Hart Trophy for the most valuable player, but this year the Hart Trophy race is wide open.
Here’s what some of Daily Faceoff’s writers feel about who may be the current front-runner for the Hart Trophy this year.
For Matt Larkin, the Hart trophy leans towards the purist Hart definition and believes that the award should go to the player most valuable to their team. With that being said, Larkin is looking towards the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov to be the current front-runner.
“They’re only of the periphery of the playoff race despite having the NHL’s co-leading scorer… I shuddery to imagine how low they’d sit in the standings without him,” Larkin said.
Scott Maxwell agreed with Larkin on the idea that it should be awarded to the player most valuable to their team but is not on board with the player who may be the front-runner for the Hart Trophy. Maxwell believes the Oilers’ Connor McDavid may be the winner for the second year in a row. While the Oilers have a handful of talent dawning on their jerseys, they struggled in the first bit of the season up until McDavid started playing like himself.
“This team with and without McDavid is night and day, and he’s probably going to catch up and retake the scoring lead eventually anyways, so it seems likely that the award will be his,” Maxwell said.
“It may be a boring pick, but I think the Oilers’ struggles without him have made him earn the MVP part of that award again.”
Frank Seravalli also went with McDavid, noting that since November 2oth, McDavid has 40 points in 19 games; that’s a two-point per game average. Seravalli also mentioned that he wouldn’t be surprised if McDavid were to hit 1,000 points this season if he continues at his current 2.11 points per game pace.
“If I had to fill out my ballet today, it would likely look like: 1. McDavid, 2. (Nathan) MacKinnon, 3. Artemi Panarin, 4. Nikita Kucherov, 5. Quinn Hughes,” Seravalli said.
Steven Ellis and Colby Cohen are on the same page when it comes to Vancouver Canucks captain Quinn Hughes becoming the next recipient of the prestigious award. His 25 minutes a night, plus 25 rating, and the fact he’s leading all defencemen in points is all highly considerable for the prize.
“I think Quinn heard the noise that the two Hughes’ playing in New Jersey. We’re supposed to be the better brothers… well, for now, Quinn sits on the throne,” said Cohen.
Mike Gould was the odd man out, looking a completely different direction than his cohort and going with Sidney Crosby as the front runner as of now.
“Sid is carrying an outgunned Penguins team back into the playoff picture,” Gould said.
“He is the Steve Yzerman of his generation — an outstanding leader who is unbelievably skilled and only gets better with age.”

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