I got an e-mail early this morning congratulating me on correctly picking seven of the 10 Hobey Baker finalists, more than any other media commentator. While I’m grateful for the attention and kind words, it’s still a bit odd to be congratulated for that sort of thing. I can tell you that when I brought home a quiz on which I’d gotten seven out of ten, I definitely didn’t hear anything congratulatory. I guess I’m still trying to get back to where I was with the 2007 Hobey, when I got nine of the 10 finalists.
Oh well, let’s see where I went wrong.
Wrong Pick: Ben Scrivens, G, Cornell
Right Pick: David McIntyre, F, Colgate
I kind of started to have a feeling that I was wrong about Scrivens when my friend and colleague Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald, and he doubted my pick of four goaltenders to make the top 10. I really didn’t see Scrivens falling out of the top 10 after being a fixture in the Hobey race during the season, but the truth is that once he fell from the Ryan Miller territory where he spent much of the season, he became just another Cornell goaltender with strong numbers, benefitting from a system that’s built to make him look good. McIntyre, meanwhile, is almost the opposite. He had a great year – including a plus/minus rating of +19 – on a Colgate team that, to put it kindly, wasn’t very good.
Wrong Pick: Ryan Stoa, F, Minnesota
Right Pick: Jamie McBain, D, Wisconsin
You’ll have to excuse me for not including a defenseman with a -9 rating on my list of picks. I thought Stoa was the much more likely representative of the WCHA, but I guess McBain’s high-scoring ways from the blueline were more impressive to the coaches. Either that, or there’s a whole lot of college hockey coaches who like The Simpsons. Oh, and for what it’s worth, Stoa is a +17 for the Gophers this season, to go with his 46 points. What might have hurt Stoa is that so much more of the buzz around the Gophers this season centered on freshman sensation Jordan Schroeder. Fair? Probably not, but right now, both Stoa and Schroeder are more concerned with the Gophers’ hopes of getting into the NCAA tournament.
Wrong Pick: Erik Condra, F, Notre Dame
Right Pick: Viktor Stalberg, F, Vermont
Condra was a risky pick on my part, with an even point-per-game scoring average and just 13 goals on the season, but I thought his leadership on that team along with his academics and other intangibles would make a nice package…and it probably will, for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award, which I wrote a column about this week on the award’s site. That said, it’s hard to argue against Stalberg, who’s had a heck of a season for the Catamounts as they prepare to make a return to the NCAA tournament. Besides, he even has his own Hobey promotional site: PickVik.com.
OK, now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s take a look at who’s left and whothe real contenders are for the award.
I’ve said before that for some of the finalists, getting to this point is a win in and of itself. They’re not winning this thing, no one thinks they are, and this honor is plenty for them.
McIntyre is clearly in this group, having shut it down for the season and getting next to no buzz for most of the season. If he’s back in the mix for the Raiders next season, though – and he probably will be, since the Devils don’t rush their prospects out of school – he’ll have an easier time putting a Hobey campaign together next season.
I’d also suggest that Stalberg’s campaign comes to an end here. It’s hard to see him getting into the Hobey Hat Trick over the other candidates from Hockey East…and let’s face it, you could put together a very solid Hobey Hat Trick consisting of Gilroy, Wilson and Thiessen.
That leaves eight players remaining, all of whom have something left to play for where the Hobey is concerned. That doesn’t mean that eight guys can win, but it does mean that spots in the Hat Trick (and invitations to the ceremony) are still up for grabs.
In the past, I’ve discussed the likely inclusion of a player from the west in the Hat Trick, and that’s the spot that Caporusso, Johnson, and McBain are playing for. They all have issues that work against them in terms of winning the Hobey – McBain’s plus/minus, Caporusso’s youth, and Johnson’s obscurity at Alaska, for starters – but I think there’s a very good chance you’ll see one of them sitting there on April 10. The way I see it, Caporusso is the leader in the clubhouse right now, but these next two weekends will be decisive.
Kalemba doesn’t strike me as a likely winner – although the fact that he plays at Hobey’s alma mater could work in his favor – but if Princeton winds up going to the Frozen Four, he’ll be hard to deny a spot in the Hat Trick. That’s probably the only way it happens, though; I don’t think that an ECAC title is enough to get him in there.
That leaves four finalists, and these are the four I think have a shot to win: Brad Thiessen, Matt Gilroy, Colin Wilson, and Jacques Lamoureux.
– Thiessen needs to win. As good as he’s been this year, and as well as Northeastern has done, there are still a lot of people who are ready to say “Same old Huskies” when they can’t get the job done (think back to the Beanpot, for example). That may not be fair, but that’s how it is, and Northeastern needs a Hockey East title or a Frozen Four berth for Thiessen to have a shot.
– Lamoureux needs an NCAA appearance. Having had the chance to talk to him for an article on NYDailyNews.com, I think Jacques is a truly remarkable young man and someone who embodies the criteria for the award as much as anyone I’ve seen come down the pike in some time. He also has the numbers with his national goals lead, but he needs an opportunity to show a national audience what he can do, and the way that happens is for Air Force to get it done in Rochester this weekend and get to the NCAA tournament.
– Wilson needs goals. The attention that Wilson has commanded on the ice for BU has certainly been a big part of his ability to set up his teammates, but when it comes to winning the Hobey, he needs probably needs a few more goals. If he can get three more goals before the Frozen Four, he should be in a good spot for a chance to win.
– Gilroy needs a trip to the Frozen Four. Gilroy’s candidacy isn’t about numbers so much as it’s about what he does to help BU win. So, his candidacy is best served by BU winning, and shaking off the lack of postseason success they’ve had for most of this decade.
Of course, all of these guys can get what they need at the same time, which will make the final voting very, very interesting. But we have a ways to go before we get there, and as any Hobey candidate worth his salt will tell you, there’s no time for thinking about individual honors right now.
Except, of course, for me, because I blog about it.