Every week this season, Eye on Hockey will be tracking the best players in college hockey as they compete for the ultimate individual prize, the Hobey Baker Memorial Award.
The last weekend of the regular season is upon us. Most years by now, there is a clear-cut Hobey Baker trio that is leading the rest of the pack. That's simply not the case this year.
Parity across the nation has made more teams competitive than in years past, and the same is perhaps true for the individuals this season.
Ryan Walters has been a front-runner for much of the second half of the season and has maintained his national scoring lead, which is going to give him an edge heading into this crucial part of the season. That said, the Hobey is not simply going to be awarded based on statistics.
A player's contributions to his team's success or in spite of a lack of success will also play a role, as does off-the-ice reputation. The player's year in school sometimes will be heavily considered. The Hobey has gone to a senior player in each of the last four seasons, and each contributed to teams that had a lot of success in their Hobey seasons.
With that in mind, Walters is still our top candidate. But his position at No. 1 isn't necessarily rock solid.
This week, Danny Kristo of North Dakota leaps to No. 2 for his major offensive contributions and overall ability. Greg Carey, who is just one off the national points lead, remains on the list this week, but there's a chance he'll get overlooked in favor of players from top NCAA tournament contenders.
Finally, Steven Whitney of Boston College this week makes our list for the first time. The senior is scoring a lot of big goals for the defending national champs despite being overshadowed for much of the season by sophomore teammate Johnny Gaudreau.
Of the guys to watch, Nick Bjugstad of Minnesota is making a late push. CBS Sports Network color analyst Dave Starman raved about his three-zone play despite lower-than-expected numbers. The two goaltenders on our list -- Erik Hartzell and Carsen Chubak -- also could figure prominently into the final race with some ridiculous numbers.
|1. Ryan Walters -- Nebraska Omaha|
|2. Danny Kristo -- North Dakota|
Others to Watch:
Corban Knight -- F -- Sr. -- North Dakota
Eric Hartzell -- G -- Sr. -- Quinnipiac
Carsen Chubak -- G -- Jr. -- Niagara
Nick Bjugstad -- F -- Jr. -- Minnesota
Erik Haula -- F -- Jr. -- Minnesota
Johnny Gaudreau -- F -- Soph. -- Boston College