Michigan forward Kyle Connor has been the most dominant player on the most dominant line in college hockey this year. He has played above his age and has shown off to everybody just why he was the 17th overall pick in last year’s NHL Draft.
His point total reached 71 this year which equals that of last year’s Hobey Baker winner Jack Eichel. Both players led the league in points in each of their freshman years with this total. The fact that both of these players were freshmen when they scored 71 points is even more absurd.
Connor also led the nation with 35 goals. Coupled with his 36 assists on the season, it shows off how he can do it all on the ice, and that he is not just a finisher, he can also create chances for his teammates. His two fellow line mates, JT Compher, and Tyler Motte, also finished in second and third place in points for the entire NCAA.
The Winnipeg Jets prospect was looked at as one of the freshman to watch entering the season and did not disappoint, although nobody expected this good of a year from him. Connor played in every phase of the game and made his team better every time he was on the ice. This is evidenced by his ridiculous plus minus rating of plus 34, which is good enough for the fifth best spot in the entire NCAA.
He also showed a propensity to excel on the power play where he led the nation with 24 points. He also showed up when it mattered tallying seven game winning goals. This is one of the key components for any player to possess before they can be considered “great.” Coming up big in clutch moments is a key characteristic for any player that is to be considered for the Hobey Baker Award.
There are only two reasons why he might not win the award. His status as a freshman doesn’t bode well for him as only two freshmen have ever won the award, including Eichel last year. Considering that Eichel won last year, the voters may be hesitant to go in that direction again the next year, especially when Jimmy Vesey, a senior, has made the Hobey Hat Trick for the second year in a row.
The other issue possibly holding him back was that he wasn’t able to lead his team to the frozen four, like Thatcher Demko from Boston College was able to.
But overall, Kyle Connor was the best player in the NCAA this year. And on statistics alone should be considered the shoo-in for the award. Regardless of this weekend’s frozen four results, Connor has been far and away the best player in college hockey and should win the Hobey Baker.