Getting to know Hobey Baker award finalists

It’s been a prospect-packed day at PHT with talk of the Scouting Combineamusing Scouting Combine photos and the announcement of USA Hockey’s Under-18 National Team. So why not discuss the “hat trick” of Hobey Baker Award finalists?

The three players nominated for the college player of the year award (named after hockey legend Baker, whose life ended tragically in a plane crash that may or may not have been an accident) are listed in this story from USCHO.com.

New Hampshire’s Bobby Butler, Wisconsin’s Blake Geoffrion and Maine’s Gustav Nyquist – all forwards – were announced as the Hobey Hat Trick finalists on Wednesday.

The award will be handed out on Friday, April 9, the day after the Frozen Four resumes. Here’s a quick rundown of the three finalists. Brandon and Joe are welcome to expand on these players later, since they know a lot more about college and/or junior hockey than I do.

Bobby Butler – The senior from New Hampshire was second in the nation with 53 points. The Ottawa Senators recently signed him to a free agent contract. He had 29 goals this year and received the award for the top American player (Walter Brown award) and was named Hockey East’s top player as well.

Gustav Nyquist – The Maine man has an awesome name. Gustav is cool enough, but Nyquist really seals the deal. Announcers can say that he gave a victimized goalie “Nyquil” after he scores. Fans can delight in creating “Nyquil + Sunkist = Nyquist” signs*. At least these things happen in my dream world in which Brandon Archibald will accept the nickname “Tiny.”

Back to reality, Nyquist is a sophomore and a Detroit Red Wings draft pick. He lead the nation with 61 points, including six games with three points or more.

Blake Geoffrion – You can roll your eyes all you want, I will still call him “Boom Boom.” He lead the Wisconsin Badgers in goals scored and is in the Nashville Predators’ system. I would assume he also ate plenty of cheese at the University of Wisconsin. For him to avoid doing so would be a sin against humanity and dairy products.

* – Though I’ve never tried it, I would not recommend trying a Nyquil + Sunkist concoction.

Scroll Down For:

    WATCH LIVE: St. Louis Blues at Dallas Stars – Game 1

    St. Louis Blues' Jay Bouwmeester (19) checks Dallas Stars' Valeri Nichushkin (43), of Russia, during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Feb. 16, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)
    AP Photo
    Leave a comment

    They were the top teams in the Western Conference during the regular season, with 109 and 107 points, respectively. And now, the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues clash with a second-round series in the playoffs. You can catch Game 1 between these Central Division foes on NBCSN (8 p.m. ET) or online using NBC Sports’ Live Extra.

    CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE

    Some links to check out for tonight’s game:

    Stars expect Seguin to miss at least first two games of Blues series

    Here are PHT’s second-round playoff predictions

     

    Canucks sign free agent goalie and Mike Richter Award nominee Garteig

    Quinnipiac goalie Michael Garteig (34) eyes a save on a shot by North Dakota during the first period of an NCAA Frozen Four championship college hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
    AP Photo
    1 Comment

    Nine days after getting prized prospect goalie Thatcher Demko under contract, the Vancouver Canucks have inked another college puck stopper.

    The Canucks have signed college free agent goalie Michael Garteig to a one-year entry-level contract, the team announced Friday. Garteig recently completed his senior year with Quinnipiac University, which won the ECAC championship but lost the NCAA championship game to North Dakota earlier this month.

    Garteig, 24, posted a 32-4-7 record with a .924 save percentage and a career best eight shutouts this season. He was also once again nominated for the 2016 Mike Richter Award.

    Sabres extend Larsson: one year, $950,000

    BUFFALO, NY - JANUARY 22: Johan Larsson #22 of the Buffalo Sabres warms up before the game against the Detroit Red Wings on January 22, 2016 at the First Niagara Center in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Tom Brenner/Getty Images)
    Getty Images
    Leave a comment

    BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Buffalo Sabres have re-signed forward Johan Larsson to a one-year contract.

    Larsson was eligible to become a restricted free agent once his contract expired this summer. The Swedish-born player is coming off a season in which he set career bests with 10 goals, 17 points and 74 games. He also finished tied with rookie center Jack Eichel in scoring five game-winning goals.

    Overall, he has 16 goals and 21 assists in 142 games for the Sabres.

    Buffalo acquired Larsson in a trade that sent former Sabres captain Jason Pominville to Minnesota in April 2013. The Wild selected Larsson in the second round of the 2010 draft.

    Contractual details, per the Buffalo News:

    Burke: Once a team picks first overall, no more drafting first overall (for a few years at least)

    Calgary Flames' President of Hockey Operations & acting GM, Brian Burke speaks to the media as team members show up for NHL hockey season-end activities in Calgary, Alberta, on Monday, April 14, 2014. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Larry MacDougal)
    AP
    16 Comments

    Brian Burke isn’t trying to pick on the Edmonton Oilers — no really, he isn’t — but Calgary’s president of hockey ops doesn’t believe any team should get to draft first overall as much as his northern rivals have done the past few years.

    “If you’re a team that picks first overall, you shouldn’t be allowed to pick first overall for some specified period … three years or five years, whatever … or even the top two teams, pick in the top two,” Burke told the Flames’ website.

    “You could still pick four or five, still get a good player, but you can’t get rewarded for continued failure, or continued luck.”

    The Oilers, of course, picked first overall in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2015. And after yet another dismal season in 2015-16, they have a 13.5 percent of winning’s tomorrow’s lottery and getting the same privilege again

    “Everyone thinks when you talk about the draft having flaws, that you’re picking on Edmonton,” said Burke.

    “There are a lot of teams that have followed this path and have repeated high, high picks for a number of years. Chicago did it. Florida’s done it. Buffalo’s done it. You can argue we did it in Toronto, certainly by not any effort of ours. We were just not successful in the lottery. This is not an indictment of any one team and it’s not an indictment of the system.

    “This is saying, ‘Okay, if 30 reasonable people got into a room and said, how do we best award amateur talent in the draft without having abuses,’ I’m not sure this is the system we’d come up with. That’s all I’m saying.”

    And many would agree with Burke.

    In fact, many would go a lot further, suggesting the entire system should be rethought.

    But the question will remain, what’s a better system? The current one incentivizes losing, and so some teams tank. They may not use the word “tanking,” but they’re sure not trying to win. Not in the short term.

    Now, is it a good look for the NHL when teams are built to be bad and we see fans openly rooting for losses? No, it’s not a good look.

    But would it be preferable for each team to have the same odds of drafting first overall. Even the Stanley Cup champion?

    Imagine for a moment a system that didn’t take the standings into account. You just know there’d be some poor franchise that was chronically unlucky, year after year after year. And you just know there’d be some ultra-lucky franchise, too.

    The fact is, as long as the NHL wants to maintain its competitive balance — and remember, there’s nothing the NHL is prouder of than its precious parity — losing teams will be rewarded in the draft.

    Burke is fine with that.

    All he’s saying is the current system could use a few tweaks.

    And if the Oilers win the lottery tomorrow, you can bet there’ll be some.