The seemingly endless theme of the 2021-22 college hockey preseason has been the talent level at the University of Michigan. The Wolverines were responsible for four of the first five picks at the 2021 NHL draft and have three other first-rounders on their roster.
So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who follows the sport that Mel Pearson’s team will have a few Hobey Baker Award candidates this upcoming season. With that being said, the Hobey isn’t always about the best NHL prospect.
Minnesota State returns senior goaltender Dryden McKay, a Hobey Hat Trick finalist and winner of the Richter Award as the top goaltender in college hockey last season. A few other contenders have senior leaders who could garner Hobey attention.
In recent years, the Hobey Baker Award has been more about the top player with pro potential. The 2021 winner was Cole Caulfield, who is already having success in the lineup with the Montreal Canadiens. Other recent winners such as Jack Eichel and Cale Makar have moved on to greatness in the NHL.
However, there are other examples of great college players who could never crack the NHL such as 2012 winner Jack Connolly (Minnesota Duluth) or 2013 honoree Drew Leblanc (St. Cloud).
Will this year’s winner be a coveted NHL prospect or just another player with an illustrious college career? There are both types of candidates in the mix as the 2021-22 season is upon us. With opening night on Friday, it’s a good time to take a look at the preseason favorites to win the 2022 Hobey Baker Memorial Award.