The Hobey Baker Award is given out annually to the top player in Men’s Cawlidge Hawkey. Excuse me College Hockey, but it is essentially the Heisman for hockey. Despite the Habs rich history in just about everything that hockey touches, the Hobey Baker Award is something that has always eluded the team. That is until now; hopefully!
Just briefly before we jump into this, I wanted to quickly say Congratulations to Shea Weber on playing his 1000th game! Man Mountain has been my favourite player in the league for some time now and I was thrilled when he was brought into town. That’s a rabbit hole for another day but congrats Captain!
Over the course of their history the Habs, and NHL for that matter tended to stay away from players going the NCAA route. Mostly because teams did not want to wait for their prospects to develop for that long. This is not to take anything away from the NCAA, nor any of it’s member programs, it was just a blind spot for the league. The good news is that this trend has pulled a full 180 over the last decade or so.
For the Habs, this year provides hope to win the Hobey Baker for the first time in years! Not since Tom Kurver in 1984 has a player drafted by the Canadiens won the award, but Habs fans hope this will change this year!
Ever since the Canadiens decided to refill to cupboards, the Bicep Brothers (Bergy and Timmins) have made sure to stock up on talent South of the border. As a Canadian (citizen, not the team) it is incredibly difficult to admit that USA hockey is on the come up. This is especially hard when you consider the fact that this rise in talent is almost exclusively coming at the expense of Canadian born players! Such is competition, you love to see it!
Fret not Habs fans as the Tree Trunk Arms Tag Team has got you! If you look across the American hockey landscape you will find a ton of Habs prospects everywhere you turn. Ignoring the USHL, in the NCAA alone the Habs have players like Brett Stapley, Blake Biondi, Jack Gorniak and Luke Tuch all playing well for the respective clubs. This doesn’t include my personal favourite Jayden Struble whose strong Sophmore season did not garner any Hobey Baker consideration. When you consider that in theory Struble was supposed to Red Shirt (sitting out a season without losing a year of eligibility) last season, this was one heck of a “Freshman” season.
As we get to the top of the NCAA talent list within the Habs organization, there are two names to watch. Jordan Harris and Cole Caufield have both been absolutely dominant for their respective teams this season. Starting with Harris, the Northeastern Captain has been everything the team hoped for, putting up 5 goals and 5 assists in 12 games. While it would be a bit of stretch for Harris to get a Hobey Baker nomination, his level of play in this shortened season should provide some optimism for Habs fans.
Now for the player who I believe should and will win the Hobey Baker award, Cole Caufield! Let’s get one thing out of the way quick, the World Juniors don’t matter. Now that that’s over, let’s dive into some of Caufields numbers shall we! Considering the difficulty of comparing players with varying amounts of Game Played, the per game (/G) numbers are something to pay closer attention to this year.
In Caufield’s case, he currently leads the NCAA in total Goals (14) and Points (28). He also sits 5th in assists (14), 2nd in Power Play (PP) Goals (6), Points (13) and total Shots (92). Now of course I know that I just finished giving you totals after preaching for per game stats, so let’s jump into those. Caufield ranks 3rd in Goals/G and Points/G, 4th in PP Goals/G, 2nd in PP Points/Game and Shots/Game.
(All stats provided by Collegehockeyinc.com)
The one thing I will point out, which may be a truly Homeristic Point of View. Caufield has played what is considered a full 18 game schedule (I think?) and still ranks near the top most statistical categories on a Per Game basis. So not only is he one of the best player’s in the NCAA, he has produced on a consistent basis for a longer period of time relative to his competition.
Now all of these stats are great, but this simply quantifies his offensive production. For myself, (and I am sure the Habs fan base as a whole) it was Caufields improvement away from the puck that was most noticeable. The Habs and Tony Granato challenged Caufield to be more defensively responsible and to improve his skating and transition game. All things he has done at the NCAA level.
Again, all of this is ignoring the fact that the play of guys like Caufield have vaulted the Badgers up the Big 10 Standings. A year removed from finishing dead last in the Conference, Wisconsin has consistently found themselves ranked in the top 25 once the season started. Of course some of the top programs did not play this season, but this is a far cry from last place after losing two studs in Alex Turcotte and K’Andre Miller. Speaking of Turcotte….
A Hobey Baker Award would truly be a fitting end to the Caufield family’s run with the Wisconsin Hockey Program.
If you are looking for more of that hockey fix, don’t forget to check out all that is going on with the guys over at Healthy Skratch! Spencer, Tyler and Kristian were graciously joined by Marc Dumont last episode and the boys are keeping you up to date in the world of men’s and women’s hockey!
Don’t forget to check out our Not Sauce For Work episode this week as the boys get your ready for the Super Bowl with a trifecta of interviews. Peeze, Terry and Eagle start things off with Alouettes legend John Bowman, followed by the creator of the Past Eight Parody, Johnny Laurelli. Finally they wrap things up with Alex Roadley Trohatos, a University of Sherbrooke product who started his own GoFundMe so he can attend a football camp to help prepare him for his pro day before the NFL draft!
As a bonus piece of content this week, Terry and Peeze sat down with the one and only David Sanchez from TSN to talk all things football! Davis even gives the guys a little insight on who his pick is for this year Super Bowl Champ!