The Vancouver Canucks most hyped defence prospect in team history has a chance to add more hardware to his shelf.
On Wednesday, Quinn Hughes was named as one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, which is given to the best player in college hockey.
Hughes does have an outside chance of bringing home the Hobey Baker Award, but he is facing some stiff competition this year. If he does bring it home, he would be the second Canucks prospect in a row to win it, after Adam Gaudette won it in 2018.
— Francesco Aquilini (@fr_aquilini) March 21, 2019
To gage Hughes’ chances of winning the Hobey Baker, let’s take a look at the other finalists.
25 years old, 35 GP, 17-19-36
The oldest of the bunch among Hobey Baker nominees ended off his college career averaging 1.1 points per game during four years at Ohio State. The 5’9″, 185-pound centreman is built like a brick, but part of this nomination feels like it’s a nod to his four-year body of work.
Statistically, he’s had two more productive seasons at Ohio State, but the beloved captain found his way onto the Hobey Baker ballot to end his college career.
23 years old, 36 GP, 19-24-43
The diminutive centre Patrick Newell (5’9″, 150 pounds) just enjoyed a breakout season during his senior year at St. Cloud State. After scoring 17 goals in his first three seasons, Newell had 19 goals this season. Nonetheless, he’s a long shot at best to win.
23 years old, 36 GP, 10-23-33
While not the most prolific offensive defenceman, Jimmy Schuldt has been an all-around great blueliner during his four years at St. Cloud State. The captain for the last three years has been chased by NHL teams in the past but chose to return to St. Cloud during the spring last year.
The Montreal Canadiens have been one team linked to Schuldt, so watch for him to perhaps sign there. This is Schuldt’s second Hobey Baker nod, but he’s likely a long shot once again this year.
Former @PentictonVees/@fbx_IceDogs/@USHL F Patrick Newell, former @OmahaLancers/@TonkaBoysPuck D Jimmy Schuldt are the 1st @SCSUHUSKIES_MH duo to be named top 10 finalists for the @HobeyBakerAward https://t.co/nKgkCJAkiM
— Mick Hatten (@MickHatten) March 20, 2019
23 years old, 36 GP, 14-29-43
The 6’3″ German centre just enjoyed his best season to date as captain of the Clarkson University squad. Nico Sturm has long been touted as a defence-first forward, but the offensive part of his game started to shine through this season.
He’s likely still a long shot for the Hobey Baker, but Sturm could bring value to a team looking for bottom-six help. He previously attended the Ottawa Senators development camp in 2018 and was invited to Winnipeg Jets training camp the year prior.
23 years old, 34 GP, 17-22-39
The Washington Capitals have to be happy with the breakout season from their sixth-round pick from 2016. Chase Priskie had an outstanding year as captain for Quinnipiac, with 39 points in 34 games.
He’s lower down on this list of guys that might win the Hobey Baker, but a contract offer from the Capitals would arguably be a bigger reward for Priskie.
— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) March 20, 2019
19 years old, 32 GP, 5-28-33
The Canucks biggest hope on the blueline is the youngest player on this list to be nominated for the Hobey Baker award. Hughes has driven offence for the University of Michigan all year long, even if he didn’t have the most productive season among blueliners up for the accolades.
While Hughes likely won’t win the Hobey Baker, he arguably has the best NHL potential among all players listed. Really, Cale Makar is the only player on Hughes’ level.
21 years old, 37 GP, 16-31-47
It’s hard to find flaws in Joe Duszak’s game after he led all NCAA defencemen with 47 points in 37 games. That earned the defenceman a contract with the Toronto Maple Leafs, where he made his debut for the Marlies earlier this week.
The knocks on Duszak are that he plays in a weaker conference, and does struggle in his own end, however, his high-risk, high-reward play paid off more often than not, hence the lofty point totals.
22 years old, 36 GP, 15-35-50
What a season it was for the skilled playmaking winger Taro Hirose. The undrafted Calgary native recently signed with the Detroit Red Wings after leading the NCAA in scoring this season.
DET prospect Taro Hirose named Big 10 Player of the Year, beating out Quinn Hughes and Mason Jobst.
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) March 19, 2019
Hirose already has two assists in two games for the Red Wings. What might be telling in terms of his Hobey Baker odds, is that he already beat out Quinn Hughes for Big Ten Conference Player of the Year.
21 years old, 31 GP, 9-37-46
Adam Fox was arguably the least notable name when the Calgary Flames and Carolina Hurricanes made a big-time swap last summer. While Elias Lindholm and Noah Hanifin have been great for the Flames, the possibility of having both Dougie Hamilton and Adam Fox on the blue line is a tantalizing prospect for Carolina.
Fox is another offensive-minded defenceman, who’s a bit undersized at 5’10”, 185 pounds. His success in the NCAA has spanned across three seasons, as he has 114 points in 95 career games for Harvard.
20 years old, 36 GP, 15-31-46
If asked who the best defensive prospect not in the NHL is, the debate probably lies between Hughes and Cale Makar. While many pundits have chosen Hughes as the better talent, there’s not much doubt that statistically, Makar’s season trumps that of the Canucks prospect.
"I've been a coach at this level for seven years and he's far and away the best player I've seen on the ice at this level."
On Cale Makar (COL) and the stunning turnaround for UMass hockey https://t.co/XrUkAHx7V2
— Chris Peters (@chrismpeters) March 21, 2019
With 46 points in 36 games, Makar is likely earmarked for professional hockey next season. Who knows, he might even add a Hobey Baker to his collection before all is said and done.