Jack Eichel (USA Today Images)
Big news in the hockey world is hard to come by this time of year, and as a result we have all likely had enough of the now-finalized Jimmy Vesey soap opera. Congratulations to the New York Rangers. But what can they expect from the Hobey Baker winner? I’m going to take a look at players previously honored with the award and predict what fantasy owners can expect from the newest Blueshirt going forward. Below are the winners in each of the last 5 years and how they fared with their organizations:
2015: Jack Eichel
Result: Jumped to the NHL, scored 56 points in 81 games in a fantastic rookie season in which he earned Calder consideration. Not at all a realistic comparison to Vesey but it won’t stop some Rangers fans from bringing it up.
2014: Johnny Gaudreau
Result: Jumped to the NHL, tallied 64 points in 80 games and, like Eichel, was nominated for the Calder Trophy. As a winger who can score, there will inevitably be some expectations that Vesey finds the net in a similar fashion as Johnny Hockey has. But the Rangers have themselves a stronger presence in Vesey, not an ultra-talented playmaker/scorer.
These two most recent award winners are setting the bar pretty high for the current center of the hockey universe. But don’t get excited too fast fantasy owners until you finish this list…
2013: Drew Lablanc
Result: Found mild success in the AHL, but not enough to warrant more than 2 career NHL games played or a qualifying offer from the Blackhawks after two years in the organization. Currently a free agent playing in the German League. And this isn’t a case of an undersized talent going misused – unfortunately Lablanc just wasn’t good enough to make the enormous jump to the NHL. The reality is that despite the intense game often seen in the NCAA, its nothing compared to the biggest stage.
2012: Jack Connolly
Result: Never drafted or signed by an NHL organization. Went straight from NCAA to Sweden, where he still puts up decent numbers. Unfortunately for Connolly, this was a case of an undersized talent not receiving consideration due to his stature. Maybe in today’s NHL he would have gotten a shot.
2011: Andy Miele