Oh, come on. You know how I’m calling this one.
If I didn’t pick Bobby Butler or Gustav Nyquist to make it to the Hobey Hat Trick, do you really think I’m going to pick either of them to win the award tonight?
Yeah, I know, predictable.
When I was over at the Detroit Red Wings game Wednesday night working on an NCAA.com piece on Patrick Eaves and his connection to both schools, I had a chance to talk informally with former Maine goalie Jimmy Howard. Howard was very interested in Nyquist’s candidacy, and asked if the Black Bears’ not making the tournament was a factor in why Nyquist isn’t favored to win tonight.
I said no, since, after all, players have won without making the tournament, most recently Matt Carle in 2006. However, Carle’s performance that year was absolutely extraordinary for a defenseman, and of course, the fact that he had been part of two NCAA Championship teams already didn’t hurt either. Nyquist, meanwhile, is an extremely gifted setup man, which is a role that has traditionally been overlooked by Hobey voters unless the totals are insanely high. Furthermore, in the running against a pair of seniors and big goal scorers, it’s tough to see him winning.
That leaves Geoffrion and Butler, and Geoffrion has two key advantages (neither of which, for the record, is his famous last name).
1. He came back for his senior year when he clearly didn’t have to. Butler would have found a customer for his services had he decided to test the free agent waters after last season, but Geoffrion, as a second-round draft pick and better-known commodity in terms of transition to the pro level, was in a much different situtation.
2. His team is here. Team success isn’t a prerequisite for the Hobey, but it does help, and getting to the Frozen Four is as much success as you can have for the final voting. Geoffrion was a key figure in making it happen with his big weekend at the West Regional, where Butler disappeared for the most part in UNH’s loss to RIT in Albany.
Of course, there are no losers when it comes to the Hobey Hat Trick, and all three players are a credit to college hockey. It should be a great ceremony tonight.