Following a dominant season at the University of Wisconsin, Cole Caufield has received the top individual award, being named as the Hobey Baker Award recipient for the top NCAA player in the country. Shane Pinto (Ottawa) and Dryden McKay (undrafted) were the other finalists.
While statistics certainly play a big role, there are other criteria that have to be met. On top of playing at least half of the season and being a full-time student, the other considerations for someone to be considered are the following:
Exhibit strength and character, both on and off the ice
Contribute to the integrity of the team
Display outstanding skills in all phases of the game
Show scholastic achievement and sportsmanship
After a solid freshman campaign, Caufield took his output to another level this year as he averaged just shy of a goal per game with 30 goals and 22 assists in just 31 games. The 20-year-old led all of Division I in goals, points, power play goals and points (11 and 24, respectively), and also shots on goal as his 165 was good enough for a 24-shot gap on the player in second place.
Clearly, he had proven all he needed to in order to move on to the pros and the Habs wasted little time doing so as they signed Caufield a day after the Badgers were eliminated in the NCAA tournament. While some were definitely wanting to see him start with Montreal, he’ll instead get his feet wet with Laval where he’ll make his debut on the second line on Friday against Toronto.
Over the years, the list of Hobey Baker Award winners has featured a list of several high-end NHL players and others that didn’t much of an impact at all. Since 2011, Jack Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, and Cale Makar all fit in the first category while Drew LeBlanc, Andy Miele, and Jack Connolly fall in the latter.
The last Montreal prospect to win the award was actually the only other Wisconsin player to win in Blake Geoffrion back in 2010. The Habs picked him up in 2012 but he suffered a career-ending injury in the minors one year later and after spending seven years with Columbus in a scouting and managerial role, Geoffrion is now a special assistant in Florida.