Hobey Baker Award Watch: Week 3
Although early in the season, it is never too early to take a look at this year’s potential Hobey Baker award winners, given annually to the best player in college hockey. Before the end of each season, the NCAA selects ten nominees for the award. As of now, the possibilities are endless but this list will contain three players that have shown consideration for the award in the first few weeks.
Bobby Nardella – Notre Dame
As of right now, it’s hard to deny Bobby Nardella a chance to win the Hobey Baker award. The senior defenseman from Notre Dame has put up unbelievable numbers in just four games. So far he has recorded three goals and seven assists for ten points. In his last game against Nebraska-Omaha, he had a five-point night. What makes Nardella a surprise is that seasons prior to this one don’t jump off the page. Nardella has nearly produced half the point totals he recorded last year in 36 fewer games. Last season he totaled 24 points in 40 games, numbers he is on pace to easily surpass. Nardella no doubt contains great leadership qualities. He is one of five captains for top-ranked Notre Dame and his work in the defensive zone often goes unnoticed. As long as he can maintain a point per game pace, and Notre Dame lives up to its expectations, he has a good chance to be a Hobey Baker favorite. His best comparison would be current New Jersey Devils defenseman and former Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher. Nardella and Butcher are the same height, play very similar styles of play and have great leadership qualities.
Cale Makar - Massachusetts
Coming into the season, Cale Makar was seen as maybe the best player in college hockey. Makar is a talent not seen very often. The 2017 fourth overall selection by the Colorado Avalanche was drafted behind current NHL players such as Nico Hischier, Nolan Patrick and Miro Heiskanen. For some, Makar was expected to make the Avalanche out of training camp and commence a long NHL career, but Colorado elected to send him back to Massachusetts for his second season with the club. Thus far, Makar has started the season on a tear. Eight points in only four games show why the sophomore defenseman should be in the Hobey Baker conversation. During this past weekend against a very good Ohio State team, he recorded four points in two games. If he maintains this pace, he could be considered a shoe-in for at least a nominee.
Tanner Laczynski – Ohio State
Tanner Laczynski has started the year solidly for the Ohio State Buckeyes. Five points in four games are definitely impressive but he largely lives in the shadows through week three of the young season. For Laczynski, it's not necessarily what he has done so far this season, but instead his production in previous seasons. Since his freshman year, Laczynski has experienced a steady improvement. Last year the sixth-round pick by Philadelphia recorded 47 points in 41 games for Ohio State and doing so in what many consider to be the best conference in college hockey. Laczynski was a key piece to the fourth-seed Ohio State team in the Frozen Four tournament. He is a two-way presence and has the potential to be in a top-nine role with the Flyers for years to come.
So while early in the season, these three players, along with many others, have made a strong case for the Hobey Baker award. Only time will tell if they keep up this rate of production as the games get more and more difficult.
Kyle Cannillo is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.