April 20, 2006
10 For '07: The Hobey

We're only a few weeks removed from the 2006 national championship game, but here at Inside College Hockey we can't resist casting our gaze toward the future. A lot can change between now and the drop of the puck in October, but that doesn't stop our 10 For '07 feature.

We already took an early look at the top 10 teams headed into next season; in the coming days we'll offer our thoughts on 10 big questions headed into next season. Now we take an early look at who will be next year's contenders for the Hobey Baker Award.



Brian Boyle
Boston College

Like Nebraska-Omaha's Scott Parse or Wisconsin's Joe Pavelski, Boyle might be compromised by the loss of talented linemate Chris Collins. It's not easy to rack up 30 assists, but it's less difficult when your wingers combine to score 40 goals. He'll need to be more consistent in order to merit serious Hobey consideration. While his game has made great strides since his freshman year, he can be dominant or invisible on a night-to-night or even shift-to-shift basis.

Brian Elliott
The only returning Hobey Hat Trick finalist from 2006 will be a strong candidate for the award once again. His injury during the second half of the 2006 season might have caused him to miss out on winning the award, but it went a long way toward proving how valuable he is to Wisconsin. Even when he returned to the lineup, the Badgers struggled until Elliott returned to form.
T.J. Hensick
It’s hard to believe that a Michigan forward who scored more than 50 points in a season wasn’t a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award. That fate befell Hensick during his junior campaign, likely due to the inconsistent play of his team. With 153 points in 123 career games, there may not be a better pure scorer in the nation, and the Wolverines return virtually their entire roster intact. In true Michigan fashion, it’s an explosive bunch – one that should provide Hensick with an opportunity to approach the 60-point plateau next time around.
Phil Kessel
With Danny Irmen and Ryan Potulny off to the pros, Kessel becomes the hub of the Gophers’ offense, which is the college hockey equivalent of being the starting quarterback at Notre Dame. There’s a lot of pressure to perform, but meet or exceed expectations, and you’re an instant legend. And while Hobey voters are a discerning lot, it doesn’t hurt to be the best-known player on the country’s most well-publicized team. Though Kessel loses a pair of high-end finishers, he’ll still play alongside the likes of Ryan Stoa, Blake Wheeler and incoming freshman Kyle Okposo – all of whom can bury the seeing-eye passes Kessel conjures up on a routine basis.
Drew Miller
Michigan State
Miller doesn’t have the flash that some of these candidates boast, but being the brother of a Hobey winner (Ryan in 2001) should generate some buzz. Plus, when you are a two-year captain and a forward who does absolutely everything well – score, defend, lead by example, etc. – on a team that figures to rack up wins, substance should win out over style. Assuming he doesn’t sign with Anaheim this summer and the Spartans have another successful year, he’ll be a strong candidate.
T.J. Oshie
North Dakota
If it weren’t for Travis Zajac’s early departure, you’d need all five fingers on one hand to count the Fighting Sioux’s preseason Hobey Baker contenders. As it is, we’ll give the nod to Oshie over Jordan Parise, Drew Stafford and Jonathan Toews, since the rising sophomore was absolutely electric in North Dakota’s postseason run. Oshie had points in 14 of the last 17 games and the first-round NHL pick finished tied with Stafford for the team lead in goals (24). It’s safe to say his game will only grow as a sophomore.
Scott Parse
With Boston College’s Chris Collins graduated and Minnesota’s Ryan Potulny in the NHL, Parse stands as the top returning scorer from 2005-06. As good as he is (and he’s real good), he’ll have a hard time matching the 20-41—61 he compiled during his junior campaign with running mate Bill Thomas plying his trade for pay in Phoenix. It’s not like Parse, a Portage, Mich., product, needs Thomas in order to rack up Hobey-worthy scoring totals. He led the Mavericks with 16 goals and 35 points as a freshman, but coming within shouting distance of his impressive statistics from last season is probably a pipe dream.
Joe Pavelski
The Badgers' junior centerman will have a pair of new wingers after Robbie Earl signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Adam Burish graduated. Some might see that as a hindrance to Pavelski matching or improving upon his 56-point campaign for the national champs. It could also be an opportunity to enjoy more of the spotlight. And he's a San Jose Sharks draft property, just like last year's Hobey Baker winner.
Cory Schneider
Boston College
The two goaltenders with the best chance of winning the Hobey in 2007 faced each other in the national championship game in 2006. Although Brian Elliott won the game, it could be argued that Schneider played better on that particular night. With five of six defensemen set to return, Schneider won't be forced to erase as many mistakes. We're also excited to see how he'll perform without the added work load caused by the World Junior Championship.
Paul Stastny
Do you realize that the Hobey Baker Award has ended up in the rarefied air of Colorado’s Front Range three times in the last four seasons? The only interloper during that span was Minnesota Duluth flatlander Junior Lessard in 2004. Fresh off a 53-point sophomore season, Stastny could easily improve on those numbers next season skating alongside über-sniper Ryan Dingle and a healthy Brock Trotter. Even though Denver doesn’t generate the notoriety of a Boston College or a Wisconsin – at least not during the regular season – the St. Louis native’s got built-in name recognition courtesy of his dad, Hall of Famer Peter Stastny.