Johnny Gaudreau had about as fine a season as a hockey player could ask for in 2012-13.
A sophomore forward at Boston College, Gaudreau led all NCAA hockey players with 1.46 points per game. His 51 points tied him for fourth among all players, and his 21 goals and 30 assists each ranked in the top 10. His six game-winning goals were tied for second, and his plus-19 rating was second on his team.
Perhaps most impressively, only 13 of his points came on the power play, meaning the 5-foot-9, 150-pound New Jersey native was at his best at even-strength play.
His numbers could have been even better had he not missed three games while helping the United States win the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship. Gaudreau led that tournament with seven goals in seven games and was named to the tournament's all-star team.
All of that added up to Gaudreau, a 2011 fourth-round pick (No. 104) of the Calgary Flames, being one of the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award last season, and makes him the favorite to win college hockey's highest individual honor in 2013-14.
Johnny Gaudreau, a sophomore forward at Boston College, was one of three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award last season and is an early favorite to take home the honor this season. (Photo: Getty Images)
Gaudreau isn't the only player expected to be in the running for the Hobey Baker this season. With help from College Hockey, Inc., here are nine other candidates who could be in the running for the award this season:
Greg Carey, F, St. Lawrence -- The 23-year-old undrafted native of Hamilton, Ontario led the NCAA with 28 goals last season and was tied for fourth with 51 points. His 14 power-play goals were an NCAA-high and his 27 power-play points were second. It earned him a spot in the top 10 in voting for last season's Hobey Baker.
Austin Czarnik, C, Miami -- As a sophomore last season, the undrafted forward had team-highs of 26 assists and 40 points and his four shorthanded goals were more than any other player in the NCAA. How important was the 20-year-old to Miami's success? The Red Hawks were 19-3-2 in the 24 games he had at least a point and 6-9-3 when he was held off the score sheet. He'll be the team's captain this season.
Jon Gillies, G, Providence -- As a freshman at Providence last season, Gillies went 17-12-6 with a 2.08 goals-against average, .931 save percentage and six shutouts in 38 games (35 starts). He won the Hockey East rookie of the year award and was named to the NCAA (East) Second All-American Team. A 2012 third-round pick of the Calgary Flames (No. 75), he also won a gold medal with the U.S. at the World Juniors, seeing action in one game as the backup to tournament MVP John Gibson.
Matthew Peca, C, Quinnipiac -- As a sophomore last season, Peca was second on his team with 15 goals and 30 points in 39 games. A 2011 seventh-round pick (No. 201) of the Tampa Bay Lightning, the 5-8, 155-pound forward contributed on the power play (three goals, six assists) and penalty kill (two shorthanded goals), and five of his 15 goals were game-winners.
Nicolas Kerdiles, LW, Wisconsin -- Originally suspended for the 2012-13 season due to an eligibility issue, the penalty was reduced to 10 games on appeal, and the 2012 second-round pick (No. 36) made the most of his ice time. He had 33 points in 32 regular-season games, then helped the Badgers win the Western Collegiate Hockey Association tournament championship with four goals -- including the game-winner against Colorado College in the title game -- and 10 points in five games to earn the tournament's most valuable player award.
Matt Leitner, F, Minnesota State -- As a junior last season, the undrafted 22-year-old led his team in assists (30) and points (47). He was at his best when Minnesota State went on the power play; he led all NCAA players with power-play assists (22) and power-play points (28).
Ryan Walters, F, Nebraska-Omaha -- The 6-foot, 196-pound forward is the NCAA's leading returning scorer after he finished tied for second last season with 52 points in 39 games. As a junior last season, he led UNO with 22 goals and 30 assists and his plus-26 rating was second among all NCAA players. He made the WCHA All-Academic Team as well as the conference's First All-Star Team and the NCAA (West) Second All-American Team. He also was a top-10 finisher in Hobey Baker Award voting.
Connor Hellebuyck, G, UMass-Lowell -- A 2012 fifth-round pick of the Winnipeg Jets (No. 130), the 6-4, 185-pound goalie had a sensational freshman season in 2012-13, leading the NCAA with a 1.37 GAA and .952 save percentage, and his six shutouts tied for the top spot. In 24 games (23 starts), he went 20-3-0. In four games at the Hockey East tournament, he allowed four goals on 116 shots for a 0.99 GAA and .966 save percentage. UMass-Lowell won the tournament title and Hellebuyck was named tournament MVP.
Trevor van Riemsdyk, D, New Hampshire -- The undrafted younger brother of Toronto Maple Leafs forward James van Riemsdyk, Trevor was second last season among all NCAA defensemen with 33 points in 39 games. Van Riemsdyk (6-2, 185) had eight goals, 25 assists and a plus-10 rating. He earned a spot on the NCAA (East) First All-American Team, as well as a spot on the Hockey East First All-Star Team.
Other potential candidates: Riley Barber, RW, Miami (Washington Capitals); Thomas Tynan, C, Notre Dame (Columbus Blue Jackets); Ryan Dzingel, C, Ohio State (Ottawa Senators); Jason Kasdorf, G, RPI (Winnipeg Jets); Kenny Agostino, LW, Yale (Calgary Flames); Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Union (Philadelphia Flyers); Matthew Grzelcyk, D, Boston University (Boston Bruins); Kevin Roy, C, Northeastern (Anaheim Ducks).