Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Vote For The Hobey: Brendan Smith

First of all, my apologies to Blake Geoffrion. A very deserving player and a great Badger captain.

With that said, in my opinion, Brendan Smith is the choice for this seasons Hobey Baker Memorial Award. The Junior defenseman has put together one of the best years for any defenseman in recent memory. Smith is the first Badger defenseman since Barry Richter in 1993 to eclipse the 40 point plateau.

The Mimico, Ontario native has put together a line of 15 goals and 30 assists for 45 points in 38 games. That's 1.18 points per game from the blueline. He's first in scoring among all defensemen in the country and 10th in the country in assists. His over-all point totals are good enough for 19th in the nation among all skaters.

There can be a case made for a lot of the other 9 finalist for this years Hobey, and that's the problem. All the players are great, but other than Smith, no one stands out at their position.

Looking at the goalies, there is a strong case for all three goaltenders Marc Cheverie from Denver, Ben Scrivens from Cornell, and Cody Reichard from Miami. But you can't honestly tell me that one of them is hands down better than the other. So you can basically eliminate the goalies from consideration.

When you look at the forwards, how do you differentiate between Bobby Butler from UNH, Blake Geoffrion from Wisconsin, Gustav Nyquist from Maine, Mark Olver from Northern Michigan, Chase Polacek from RPI, and Rhett Rahkshani from Denver? You really can't. It's a pretty blah group overall.

Looking at the defensemen, you have a clear cut, hands down favorite in Brendan Smith. There isn't even a defenseman in consideration this season. Currently there isn't even another defenseman in the top 50 in scoring in the country. Smith's next closest competitor nationally is 10 ponits back. In the WCHA, the next closest defenseman is an insaine 17 points back of Smith. Last year, when Boston University defenseman Matt Gilroy won the Hobey, he finished the season with 37 points, only .822 per game. And here sits Smith with 45 points, 1.18 per game.

You want another incredible statistic? No defenseman besides Smith has scored more than 42 points since Matt Carle had 53 in 2006. And yes, Carle won the Hobey that season, over Wisconsin goaltender Brian Elliott.

Smith has taken great strides in his defensive game as well. When he came to Wisconsin he was a flat out liability in his own end. He's worked his ass off and he plays considerable minutes, including time on the penalty kill. The unit of Smith and freshman John Ramage has actually been one of our most consistent units all season long.

On the power play Smith has become an absolute assassin. His 11 power play goals are good enough for sixth overall in the country. The WCHA defenseman of the year has found a niche spotting up on the the top of the circles and unleashing one of the best cannons around. His two power play goals in the last 5 minutes of the game against Michigan in the Camp Randall Hockey Classic clinched a clutch, must needed victory for the Badgers.

In my honest opinion there isn't a clear cut decision for the Hobey or even a clear cut top 3 besides Smith. Nyquist is the leading scorer in the country but his team didn't even make the NCAA tournament and the Hobey voters tend to favor players in the tournament. So that's my two cents. Commence the ripping in the comment section.

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