So, here we are, a little more than a day away from knowing who the 10 finalists are for the Hobey Baker Award.
To me, this is the fun part. After all, picking the Hobey winner can be very easy sometimes, as it was last year, when Kevin Porter had it locked up early. Picking 10 finalists, on the other hand, is a bit harder.
Now, there’s been some confusion about how the process works, so I put in a call Wednesday and got the lowdown on who votes when and for whom. The 10 names that will be announced Thursday are selected by vote among the nation’s 58 head coaches. Those are the finalists who will be considered by the 25-member voting panel – which includes one coach from each conference – to get the Hobey Hat Trick, which will be announced after the regionals, and the winner, who will be announced on April 10.
(So, for those of you who were wondering how Richard Bachman could be the WCHA Player of the Year and not a Hobey finalist, the media members who gave Bachman the WCHA honor were nowhere near the process that snubbed Bachman. Makes sense now, right?)
So, let’s get started, shall we?
Louis Caporusso, So., F, Michigan
Erik Condra, Sr., F, Notre Dame
Matt Gilroy, Sr., D, Boston University
Chad Johnson, Sr., G, Alaska
Zane Kalemba, Jr., G, Princeton
Jacques Lamoureux, So., F, Air Force
Ben Scrivens, Jr., G, Cornell
Ryan Stoa, Jr., F, Minnesota
Brad Thiessen, Jr., G, Northeastern
Colin Wilson, So., F, Boston University
Breaking my list down, I have five forwards, one defenseman, and four goaltenders. I also have three players each from the CCHA and Hockey East, two from ECAC Hockey, and one each from the WCHA and Atlantic Hockey.
Now, I know there are a few things that various folks may not like about my picks, so I should probably respond to them.
THESE AREN’T THE REAL FINALISTS; THEY DON’T REALLY MATTER
Sorry, had to get that out of the way. Now, addressing the various issues:
– Only one WCHA finalist. Now, there are a couple of other players who could find themselves in the top 10, particularly St. Cloud’s Garrett Roe and the 2007 winner, Ryan Duncan of North Dakota. Roe’s been among the nation’s top scorers all season, and Duncan was the glue on a North Dakota team that did what North Dakota teams do. However, St. Cloud’s lack of success this year will probably hold Roe back, and as much as I like Duncan, I don’t see a forward averaging less than a point per game being a Hobey finalist. There’s also a couple of defensemen worth talking about, but that leads into my next point. For now, I’ll just add that as the WCHA gets more and more blue-chip talent that doesn’t stay in school for very long, the number of Hobey finalists and winners the conference produces will continue to drop.
– Matt Gilroy as the only defenseman on the list when 10 other blueliners have a higher scoring average. For starters, there’s the obvious fact that being a defenseman is as much about what you do in your end as what you do on offense, if not more so, and that’s a big part of why Gilroy is the only two-time All-American playing college hockey right now. You also have the fact that he’s the co-captain and unquestioned leader of the No. 1 team in the country, to the point where head coach Jack Parker said that Gilroy’s return for his senior year would have been worth it for his leadership alone, even if the Long Island native never played a game. There are 10 d-men who score more, but: Gregg Flynn takes a backseat to his team’s main Hobey candidate, Jacques Lamoureux; Patrick Weircoch will likely suffer from Hobey’s anti-freshman bias; Jamie McBain will be held back by Wisconsin’s precarious NCAA Tournament status; and so on.
– The nation’s leading scorer, Bryan Leitch, nowhere to be found. Honestly, I doubt too many people outside the 203 area code will be up in arms over this one. First of all, there’s a disproportionate amount of assists among his 59 points, and it’s hard to see a forward contending for the Hobey. Second, he was voted to the All-ECAC Hockey Second Team. Leitch is going to have a hard time convincing people he’s one of the top 10 players in the country if he’s not one of the top three forwards in his own conference. Makes sense, right?
Of course, I’m not guaranteeing I’m going to be right – last year, I only got six of the 10, after picking nine the year before – but I’ve got a good feelign about these 10.
I guess we’ll find out.