Denver's Rakhshani tops Hobey watch


The Hobey Baker Memorial Award is presented to a deserving recipient on the day before the last college hockey game of the season. But that doesn't mean that college hockey fans, players and media members don't think about it all season. Inside College Hockey's Hobey Tracker looks at our picks for the top three candidates for the award and other players worthy of consideration. All statistics are through games of Jan. 19.

The Big Board

1. Rhett Rakhshani

Denver | Senior | Forward

To Date:
22 GP, 15-14--29, 5 PPG, 3 GWG, plus-9

The Skinny: Rakhshani has been a model of consistency for the nation's top-ranked team. He's scored at least one point in 17 of the Pioneers' 22 games -- in fact, he's got as many multiple-goal games as scoreless games -- and hasn't been held scoreless in back-to-back games. He's already matched his single-season high for goals without sacrificing his playmaking touch; he's assisted on 14 goals this season, earning the first assist on 10 of them.

Gustav Nyquist

Maine | Sophomore | Forward

To Date:
22 GP, 13-19--32, 5 PPG, 3 GWG, plus-10

The Skinny: The Black Bears are experiencing a resurgence this season after finishing among the bottom three in the Hockey East standings each of the past two years. Leading the way is Nyquist, the smooth Swede whose scoring totals through 22 games this season are identical to what he registered in 38 games as a freshman. He had a 10-game point streak snapped in a loss to Boston College last weekend and reeled off a seven-game point streak during the first month of the season.

Brendan Smith

Wisconsin | Junior | Defenseman

To Date:
21 GP, 9-21--30, 6 PPG, 2 GWG, plus-14

The Skinny: Remember last season when Badgers blueliner Jamie McBain was in the Hobey discussion on the strength of a 39-point regular season? At his current pace, Smith could match that total by Valentine's Day. The leading scorer for the nation's second-best offense, he's been especially effective against WCHA foes, with 21 points in 15 league games. Smith and teammate Blake Geoffrion have combined to form a lethal power-play combination, accounting for 15 of Wisconsin's 25 man-advantage goals.

What About This Guy?

A deeper look at a Hobey hopeful and an issue (or issues) surrounding his candidacy.

Corey Tropp, Michigan State: He's far and away the leading scorer in his conference with 35 points in 26 games, and he also leads the CCHA in goals with 17. Eleven times this season he's scored two or more points in a game, and he's a major reason the Spartans have their sights set on an NCAA tournament berth following last season's 10-23-5 disaster.

Yeah, about last season -- namely, the ugly Jan. 24, 2009, incident at Yost Ice Arena when Tropp speared Michigan defenseman Steve Kampfer as he lay on the ice; Tropp was suspended for the remainder of the season. Theoretically, that action from last season shouldn't have any bearing on Tropp's Hobey worthiness this season, but Hobey Baker's dedication to sportsmanship and fair play is a major component of his legacy and part of the award criteria. Should Tropp continue to excel, his candidacy would present an unusual dilemma for voters.

Hidden Hobey

Cory Conacher, Canisius: Prior to the start of the season, Canisius coach Dave Smith wanted Conacher, a small, speedy junior winger from Burlington, Ontario, to shoot more while retaining his playmaking ability. So far, so good.

The nation's second-leading scorer behind UMass forward James Marcou, Conacher has 17 goals through 22 games, nearly equaling the 19 he scored during his first two seasons. He's also amassed 19 assists, just four shy of the single-season best he posted as a sophomore. With Conacher on the throttle, the Golden Griffins have become the highest-scoring team in Atlantic Hockey and are challenging to crack the top three in the league standings.