By: Nathan Shield
The Hobey Baker is the most prestigious award in college hockey and is awarded annually to the NCAA’s top college hockey player. The Hobey Baker has been a spotlight for future NHL talent for many years with recent winners, Cale Makar, Jack Eichel and Johnny Gaudreau becoming dominant forces in the NHL shortly after winning. With condensed schedules and certain schools not even playing, this season has given players limited opportunities to showcase their skills to the Hobey Baker Selection committee. So, who’s making the most of these opportunities?
As the Minnesota Golden Gopher’s starting goaltender, Lafontaine has been busy this year starting 16 of the Gopher’s first 18 games.
Jack currently ranks among the best in college hockey this year in almost every category. The alternate captain for the Gophers leads all NCAA goalies with 13 wins this season (13-3-0). He ranks second nationally in goals against average at 1.28, third nationally in save percentage at .948 and is tied for third nationally with three shutouts.
The senior goaltender is also a key piece to Minnesota’s defense which ranks second nationally with a staggering 1.61 goals allowed per game.
Jack’s stellar play has propelled the Gophers up the rankings and they currently sit at first in the Big Ten Conference and second in the national rankings.
The 15th overall pick of the Montreal Canadiens in the 2019 NHL Draft is having a strong sophomore season with the Wisconsin Badgers.
Caufield currently leads the NCAA in goals and points with 28 points (14 goals, 14 assists ) in 18 games. Despite an impressive Freshman campaign, Caufield has reached new heights in his sophomore season and has shown he is undoubtably one of the premier players in the NCAA.
His play has been crucial for the Wisconsin Badgers who are currently sitting at second in the Big Ten Conference and 11th in the national rankings, thanks to his strong play.
If Caufield were to win the Hobey Baker, he would be the fifth sophomore to win the Award and the second Wisconsin Badger.
Farrance is undoubtably one of the most dynamic offense defensemen in recent memory for Boston University Fans. The smooth skating defensemen returned to BU for his senior season after a phenomenal junior season that saw him recognized as a first-team All-American and one of ten finalists for the Hobey Baker.
While Hockey East was slow to get their season started, Farrance was not, scoring 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists) in just his first six games and currently leads the NCAA in points per game with an astonishing 2.33.
With an impressive start to the season, the only questions around Farrance are whether or not he will have enough time to prove himself to the committee, as Hockey East and Boston University has been especially cautious with postponing games.
As one of the best centers in college hockey last season, Tufto decided to return to Quinnipiac University instead of signing an NHL Contract. As a former two time second-team All-American and a former Hobey Baker Nominee, Tufto came out the gate swinging in his senior season for the Bobcats.
Tufto is tied for the national lead with 28 points while he has sole possession of the national lead with 24 assists. He is also third in the nation among centers with a .617 faceoff percentage.
Tufto also currently ranks third in Quinnipiac program history with 114 career assists and is third in Division I program history with 149 career points.
Tufto has been outstanding for the Bobcats and is a big reason why they are tied for first place in the ECAC and 12th in the nation. If Tufto were to win the Hobey Baker, it would be the first time a player from Quinnipiac University has won the award.
Dubbed the preseason runner-up for the Hobey Baker in 2021, Kawaguchi is looking to finish the job this season. The Senior Captain for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks was stellar in his junior year finishing second in Division I in points and was a first-team All- American and a runner-up for the Hobey Baker.
In his senior season, Kawaguchi picked up right where he left off with 21 points (5 goals, 16 assist) in his first 18 games. He also contributed in the defensive zone and on the penalty kill.
With only six games left on UND’s schedule before NCHC Conference Playoffs, Kawaguchi will need to keep up his offensive pace if he wants to stay in the Hobey Baker conversation.