The Hobey Baker Award Foundation announced the 59 college hockey players nominated for the fan voting portion of the balloting process this week. The fan voting is a good chance for schools' pr machines to get cranking and drum up interest within the fan bases, but it only accounts for one percent of the voting.
Boston University freshman phenom Jack Eichel has received much of the individual attention this season, and rightfully so. During conference championship weekend in March, the 10 finalists for the award will be unveiled. The 10 finalists are not broken down geographically, but for the purpose of this article, let's take a look at the five most likely candidates from the three "eastern" conferences.
Jack Eichel, Fr., Forward, Boston University - The national leader in points, points per game and assists has been particularly clutch for the Terriers. 16 of his 27 points have come in the third period or overtime including a game winning goal in the extra session against Maine. He's a dynamic player that has made everyone around him better. His reach is extraordinary and he has that extra gear that scouts and coaches often talk about.
Jimmy Vesey, Jr., Forward, Harvard - Only one player in the nation has more goals per game than the Nashville Predators draft pick. Like the rest of the Crimson team, he's really started living up the hype surrounding him. He's got a pro shot and goes right into the dirty areas, allowing him to score some gritty goals. He also is an underrated passer.
Jon Gillies, Jr., Goaltender, Providence - The South Portland, Maine native is tied for the national lead in shutouts with four and has the seventh best save percentage (.938) in Division I. His numbers suffered the first few weekends as the Friars suffered out of the gate, but he's really come and bailed out the team when the offense wasn't producing. Notoriety often plays a role in this award, rightly or wrongly, and he's got the name recognition.
Cody Wydo, Sr., Forward, Robert Morris - The Allen Park, Mich. native is averaging one point short of a point per game for his career. This award also tends to recognize career achievement and there is a good chance Wydo will be rewarded for his scoring prowess over the past three seasons as much as this year. His 26 points is one back of the national lead and he's likely to pad his stats further as the Colonials move to solely conference play in the second half.
Mike Vecchione, Soph., Forward, Union - The Dutchmen have hit a rough patch after a strong first few games, but this writer has a hunch Rick Bennett's team will be turning it around for the second half. The Saugus, Mass. native's nine goals and 17 assists put him just one back of the national lead for scoring. He's good on face-offs and is reliable in all three zones. He was a big part of the first line's success last season as well.
Others under consideration: Harvard senior goaltender Steve Michalek, Holy Cross senior goaltender Matt Ginn, Cornell sophomore goaltender Mitch Gillam, Bentley junior forward Andrew Gladiuk, Boston College junior defenseman Michael Matheson