New Jersey Devils: Dougie Hamilton’s Injury Gives Luke Hughes Edge For Calder

The New Jersey Devils season is not going the way most hoped, but the one thing going well is Luke Hughes first full season. The injury to Dougie Hamilton should have him in the Calder Trophy mix until the end of the season.

New Jersey Devils v Vancouver Canucks
New Jersey Devils v Vancouver Canucks / Derek Cain/GettyImages

New Jersey Devils rookie defenseman Luke Hughes was always going to be in the Calder Trophy conversation. The narrative is there. He was awesome in the playoffs last year after just two regular-season games under his belt. His brother is one of the biggest stars in the NHL, and the league is hell-bent on covering the Hughes family as much as possible.

However, there's one man in the way of Luke Hughes' quest for the Calder Trophy, naming him the Rookie of the Year. That man is barely a man at all. It's 18-year-old Connor Bedard. The Chicago Blackhawks star is standing in the way of Luke Hughes being the Rookie of the Year.

Bedard is killing it this year. Despite Taylor Hall and Corey Perry, the two former MVPs on the roster, no longer being a factor in the team's success, Bedard is still leading all rookies in points by a lot. As of this writing, Bedard has 23 points. Hughes is tied with Marco Rossi and Adam Fantilli with 16 points in second place.

If points meant everything, then Bedard would have a large lead on Hughes. However, Bedard is a forward on a terrible team and Hughes is a defenseman embroiled in a playoff race. We spoke about who is no longer on the Blackhawks. Dougie Hamilton no longer being a part of the Devils plans after he tore his pec will have a bigger impact on the Calder race. Hamilton was in the Norris Trophy conversation last season.

Hughes was already playing a huge role for the Devils. With players like John Marino and Jonas Siegenthaler falling off a cliff, Hughes was forced to play more of a two-way game. He's excelled at it so far. Not only is he getting points, but he's stopping the puck from going in the net.

Luke Hughes has been on the ice for 17 goals scorer and 16 goals against at even strength. The only other defenseman on the team who has been on the ice for more goals than goals against is Colin Miller, and he missed more than half the season with an injury. Hughes has been great. There is no other way to say it. He's been beyond what anyone could have hoped, especially defensively.

We want to also recognize Brock Faber in Minnesota, but this is more of an "analytics gone wild" take that he should be in the mix. While he has been impressive and deserves a spot in the conversation, this is currently a two-man race.

The fact the Devils no longer have Dougie Hamilton in the lineup will only help them in terms of narrative for the Calder Trophy. Many will just vote blindly for Bedard, but Hughes might deserve more for this season alone. Bedard is probably going to have the better career, but Hughes is probably the better player this season. Even if that's debatable, Hughes is absolutely the more important player. Bedard is playing for personal pride. Hughes is trying to carry a franchise back to the postseason.

There's a lot of season left, and the narratives will continue to evolve. Bedard started the season in pole position for the Calder Trophy. However, Hughes was always and is still second. Hamilton's injury might eventually help him overtake first.

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