I’m way behind the curve on this one, but I didn’t want the entire week to go by without mentioning something so awesome. Each season, the Hobey Baker Award is given to the top hockey player in the NCAA. Obviously, not every young player comes up through U.S. college hockey, and it’s generally assumed that Canadian Juniors are the top NHL feeder league on the planet, but that’s not to say that American college hockey hasn’t grown and hasn’t become a full-fledge legit feeder league full of incredibly talented kids.
Wisconsin defenseman, and the Wings ’07 first round pick, Brendan Smith joins University of Maine winger and Best Name Nominee-in-Training Gustav Nyquist on the short list for the 2010 honor. Of the ten nominees, two are Red Wings. And that’s amazing. Proof of development at every level.
Nyquist currently leads the nation in scoring, with 19 goals and 42 assists in 39 games as a sophomore. Smith is leading the nation in defenseman scoring (by a mile), with 15 goals and 30 assists in 38 games as a junior. Smith’s numbers are good enough for 19th overall in the scoring chase. Maine didn’t qualify for the men’s tournament this season, but UW is the #1 seed in the West Regional (which kicks off Thursday in St. Paul). Also in that regional is St. Cloud State and Red Wings prospect Nick Oslund, who is not up for any awards (chump).
If Brendan Smith wins, he’d be the first Badger to do so, despite their incredible history of churning out quality talent. Nyquist would be the third Black Bear. By all accounts, Nyquist has it all but wrapped up. The Red Wings have never had a Hobey Baker winner in their system (though Drew Miller’s cousin Kip won in 1990).
Past winners include Matt Gilroy (09), Kevin Porter (08, late addition to this list to keep Hollis from exploding), Jordan Leopold (02), Ryan Miller (01), Chris Drury (98), Brendan Morrison (97), Paul Kariya (93), Neil Broten (81), and my favorite non-Red Wing of all time Tony Hrkac (87).