Jack Eichel is walking away from his freshman season at Boston University with the kind of decorations and accolades most NCAA players spend their entire college careers working towards.
He’s the Hockey East scoring champion, with seventy points in thirty-nine games. He’s the Hockey East Rookie of the Year, and the NCAA Tim Taylor Rookie of the Year to boot. He’s made two appearances for Team USA at the World Junior Championship — including one as the youngest player on the roster — and Hockey East’s Tournament MVP, Player of the Year, and recipient of the Three Stars Award. He and Boston University won the Beanpot, and they’re headed to TD Garden on Saturday to face off against Providence in an all-New England Frozen Four NCAA championship.
Now, just two months before he’s set to get drafted in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, he’s won the Hobey Baker Award, as well.
Following former incumbent Johnny Gaudreau of Boston College — who looks like the clear shot candidate for the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s Rookie of the Year with the Calgary Flames — Eichel brings the Hobey Baker back to Boston (just for a rival school).
At 18, Eichel is only the second NCAA freshman to ever win the Hobey Baker, which is awarded each year to the NCAA Division I men’s ice hockey player of the year. The last time a first year player earned the honor was in 1993, when University of Maine Black Bears freshman Paul Kariya took home the award; both players pulled this off as eighteen-year old underagers on their respective rosters.
Projected to go second overall at the 2015 Entry Draft (putting his highest probability of being selected by either the Buffalo Sabres or the Arizona Coyotes), the league was still speculating about whether or not Eichel would leave school to join the NHL before earning the Hobey Baker or an NCAA championship. If he can lead his team to victory on Saturday at TD Garden, the signs will all point to him leaving school this summer.
One of the three Hobey Baker ‘Hat Trick’ finalists with ties to the Boston area, Eichel took home the honors over North Dakota netminder and Boston Bruins prospect Zane Mcintyre — whom Eichel and BU defeated 5-3 on Thursday — and Harvard forward Jimmy Vesey.
Mcintyre, drafted in the 6th round by the Bruins in the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, was the winner of the Mike Richter Goaltender of the Year award (announced just two hours prior to Eichel’s Hobey Baker announcement) and a key component in the University of North Dakota’s success in the 2014-2015 season. Since joining UND’s roster, the Minnesota native has become the school’s all-time leader in both save percentage and goals against average. His twenty-nine season wins led the nation in the NCAA, while his .931 SV% was sixth overall.
Vesey, on the other hand, led the nation with 38 goals in his junior year en route to becoming Harvard University’s first Hobey Baker finalist in a decade. The North Reading, Massachusetts native — who was selected in the third round of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft by the Nashville Predators — is a one-two punch of talented on the ice and in the classroom; the six foot one winger went on a twenty game point streak, but still joked at the Hobey Baker award ceremony about how he’s fluent in Mandarin.