Hobey Baker Watch: Preseason

Story posted October 10, 2018 in Sports, CommRadio by Jeremy Schooler

The 2018-19 NCAA hockey season began last weekend, and with it, the race for the coveted
Hobey Baker award is off. Last year’s winner, Adam Gaudette of Northeastern, is off to the
professional ranks, signing with the Vancouver Canucks in the off-season, so the award is
up for grabs this year for players who finished behind Gaudette in the voting last year, as
well as potential breakout stars.
The candidates for the 2019 Hobey stretch across the college hockey landscape, with every
position and most conferences having players with at least a reasonable shot at the award.
In the Big Ten, Notre Dame’s Cale Morris, who finished in the top 10 in Hobey Baker voting
last year and won the Mike Richter Award as college hockey’s top goaltender, is the
leading candidate, and is also the key to #2 Notre Dame’s title hopes. Morris would be the
first goaltender to win the award since current Anaheim Duck and former Michigan State
Spartan Ryan Miller won it in 2001. Additionally from the Big Ten, Tanner Laczynski of Ohio
State and Quinn Hughes of Michigan are candidates with impressive repertoires; Laczynski
had 47 points in 41 games last year for the Buckeyes, who are currently ranked #1, and
Hughes was so impressive last season that he was drafted #7 overall by the Vancouver
Canucks—but decided not to sign due to “unfinished business” (Michigan lost in the Frozen
Four last season).
In the ECAC, two senior forwards on #14 Princeton lead the way in the Hobey running, in
Max Veronneau and Ryan Kuffner. Veronneau finished second in all of college hockey with
55 points a season ago, behind only eventual Hobey Baker Award winner Adam Gaudette,
and is certainly one of if not the best setup men in the country. Often, the man Veronneau
was setting up was Kuffner, who finished just three points behind him. It can be difficult
sometimes for teammates to be competing with each other for a major individual prize such
as the Hobey Baker, but one can only look to last season to see an example. Gaudette’s
teammate Dylan Sikura finished just six points behind him as both of them were elite Hobey
Baker candidates.
In the NCHC, St. Cloud State junior Jimmy Schuldt is likely the best defenseman in the
country, and will attempt to lead the Huskies back to the NCAA tournament, where their
season ended in disappointment as they were a #1 seed but upset in the first round by Air
Force. Schuldt has a rare but elite blend of offensive skill as well as the attributes of a
shutdown defenseman. He tallied 38 points in 40 games last year, while also being St. Cloud
State’s go-to defenseman when they were leading late in games and needed high-level
defense.
Finally, in the WCHA, Northern Michigan forward Adam Rockwood will be competing for the
Hobey Baker as he tries to lead the Wildcats to the NCAA tournament for the first time since
2010. Rockwood finished tied for 8th in points last year with 48, but half of the players who
finished ahead of him have either graduated or left college early to turn professional,
opening the door for him to take a run at the Hobey. Among the candidates listed here,
Rockwood may have the most outside shot at the award, if for no other reason than his team
is certainly expected to finish the worst this year among these candidates teams; NMU
finished a disappointing 5th in the WCHA last year and likely won’t do much better this year.

 


Jeremy Schooler is a sophomore studying broadcast journalism and business. Reach him
via email at jfs5717@psu.edu.