April 26, 2007
10 For '08: The Hobey

We're only a few weeks removed from the 2007 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 '08 feature.

We already took an early look at the top 10 teams headed into next season; in the near future 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.



Nate Davis

Davis was the front-runner for the 2007 Hobey at the season’s midpoint but slumped down the stretch, scoring just seven of his 21 goals and 15 of his 50 points in the RedHawks’ 22 post-Christmas games. Had he had an average second half, he would’ve likely been among the three finalists for the award. Heading into his senior year, Davis has two factors working in favor of his Hobey chances. One, he’ll likely remain paired with classmate Ryan Jones, a talented goal scorer. Two, he’s the country’s most dangerous shorthanded scoring threat as evidenced by his nine career SHGs.

Nick Dodge
Clarkson's captain will produce point totals that rank among the nation's leaders, but that doesn't illustrate what makes him one of the nation's best players. He plays in both special-teams situations and is one of the best face-off men in the country and often goes head-to-head against the opponent's top line. He dealt with all of those responsibilities last year and still finished second in Clarkson's scoring list by a point, despite playing three fewer games than scoring leader (and recent pro-signee) Shawn Weller.
Ryan Duncan
North Dakota
The 2007 Hobey Baker Award winner led North Dakota's fight to keep its head above water during a difficult first half of the season, then kept producing as the Fighting Sioux stormed to the Frozen Four for a third consecutive year. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Duncan again scores 30-plus goals and better than 50 points, but Oshie and – in the unlikely event he chooses to return for his junior season – Toews could leapfrog Duncan in the Hobey pecking order. And after last year’s breakout campaign, Duncan won’t be able to sneak up on anyone any more.
Eric Ehn
Air Force
Ehn's inclusion in the 2007 Hobey Hat Trick helps his candidacy for the honor in 2008. First, he won't have to deal with questions regarding the worthiness of a finalist from a fledgling conference this time around. Second, there was considerable sentiment to honor someone whose commitment to hockey was matched – if not exceeded – by a commitment to serving the country. Perhaps the only factor working against him is whether he can duplicate the statistics he put up last season.
Alex Goligoski
It’s always tough to single out just one Hobey candidate on a team as talented as the Gophers, but Goligoski gets the nod because he’ll be the only seasoned veteran on a fairly green defensive corps, not to mention the only proven offensive threat from the blue line. Like Miami’s Davis, he got out to a great start (8-20—28 in Minnesota’s first 23 games) but faded late in the year (1-10—11 over the final 21 games). With a more consistent effort, he could put up numbers similar to Matt Carle when the Denver rearguard won the Hobey in 2006.
David Jones
As one of four returning Hobey finalists from 2007, Jones already has that hard-to-get tag of being one of the nation's best players despite not playing for a nationally prominent team. His 1.33 points-per-game last season ranked among the top 10 in the country. If Jones helps Dartmouth take that next step, moving off of the bubble and into the NCAA Tournament, he'll be a strong candidate for the Hobey Hat Trick.
T.J. Oshie
North Dakota
Considering that he scored 52 points in 43 games for a Frozen Four qualifier last season, it’s hard to believe Oshie wasn’t among the 10 finalists for the Hobey. That said, if he puts up points at the same pace as he did over the Fighting Sioux’s last 20 games – he scored 12 goals and 22 assists during that span – there’s no reason to think he can’t be a leading candidate for Hobey honors next season. As stated above, a big year from Duncan and/or Toews (can we just put an asterisk behind his name?) could hinder Oshie’s chances.
Kevin Porter
T.J. Hensick led the nation in scoring last season, but Porter is a more well-rounded player. He can score, as evidenced by his 24 goals and 34 assists last season – that was the third-best total in the country – but he may also be the country’s top defensive forward. He’ll again have a chance to eclipse the 60-point plateau next season if he skates on a line with rocket-propelled center Andrew Cogliano. But there’s also a chance that Cogliano could emerge as a Hobey hopeful himself.
Teddy Purcell
Last year's standout freshman will be in a position to take over the scoring load for the Black Bears, following the graduation of a strong senior class that included Michel Leveille and Josh Soares. We'll see how things develop, but the one thing that might hurt Purcell's candidacy is how people view Maine's top tandem. Is Purcell the supporting offense for star goalie Ben Bishop? Or is Bishop a complementary backstop that allows Purcell to do his thing?
Cory Schneider
Boston College
The likes of David Brown, John Curry, and Bobby Goepfert made it a goalie-friendly Hobey year in 2007, but Schneider's the only netminder on our list of prospects for 2008. He has the benefit of entering the Hobey race as the best player on the best team, which carries lots of weight with voters, who look at winning teams first. His numbers will be fine, and if Boston College maintains the No. 1 spot in Hockey East and the national polls for most of the year, Schneider will benefit by receiving individual accolades.