Hobey Baker Big Board
Fan voting for the Hobey Baker Award begins today, and as has been a theme for the past couple of seasons, there are a lot of players who are in the running for the award, but it has narrowed to a handful of candidates. The following list is my list of the top five candidates for the award, in the order in which I think they deserve it, not how I think the award voting would look if it were done today.
1. Johnny Gaudreau, F, Boston College
Gaudreau had one of the best WJC tournaments ever for an American forward, leading the tournament with 7 goals. He also, despite missing a few games due to the aforementioned WJC, is just one behind the national leaders in goals scored in college hockey this year. Because he has missed those games, he leads the nation in goals per game with .79. Gaudreau’s best assets are his ability with the puck and his hockey sense, and both have been on display this season.
2. Corban Knight, F, North Dakota
After being overshadowed for the past couple of seasons, Knight has dominated this year. He has 10 goals and is third in the nation in points per game. He currently has a 15 game point streak, and he’s getting it done elsewhere on the ice as well: he’s one of the best face off men in the country, winning 60.2% of his draws, which is on pace to break his own school record.
3. Ryan Walters, F, Nebraska-Omaha
I don’t look at win-loss record when filling out Hobey rankings, but it’s tough not to notice that Omaha is currently in first place in the WCHA. Walters has been a big part of that, leading the country with 13 goals (though it has taken him 22 games, putting him off the pace in terms of goals per game). He’s uh drafted, but has an outside shot at doubling his career high for goals in a season and has Omaha playing some of their best hockey since Dean Blais got there.
4. Joey LaLeggia, D, Denver
There isn’t a standout defender this year, but LaLeggia has been impressive again coming off a standout freshman season. He should approach the 38 points he had last year, and with 7 goals already this year it seems to be a lock that he will top the 11 goals he had last season.
LaLeggia still has some work to do in terms of his pro prospects because he is pretty undersized for that level, but because of his puck moving and passing skills as well as his skating he’s mastered the college game and is one of the best defensemen in the country.
5. Brett Gensler, F, Bentley
Every year sees someone from outside the big conferences get a Hobey nod, and so far that guy is Gensler. He has scored 11 goals on the year and leads the country scoring 1.71 points per game. Bentley is just 6th in Atlantic Hockey, but if Gensler keeps this up I don’t see how it’s possible to keep the nation’s leading scorer off the ballot, even when considering the level of competition. Especially when considering how much Atlantic Hockey has improved over the past couple of seasons.