One year after coming up short in his chase for Hobey Baker Award honors, Harvard’s Jimmy Vesey has been named the NCAA’s top player.
Vesey, 22, was awarded the Hobey Friday evening at a ceremony in Tampa, Fla., where the NCAA’s Frozen Four tournament is taking place this weekend. In his senior season with the Crimson, Vesey netted 24 goals and 46 points in 33 games, which put him into a tie for 17th in the nation in scoring, but only three points out of a top-10 finish. His offensive numbers weren’t the NCAA’s best, Vesey’s two-way game played into his selection as the Hobey winner.
“Vesey was an impact player in all phases of the game,” the award’s official release stated. “Regular shifts and power play duties were the norm, but he was often underestimated in his defensive responsibilities. Vesey was a fixture on the penalty kill and was widely recognized as the hardest worker on the team. His compete-level made Vesey a difference maker.”
Vesey edged out finalists Kyle Connor, who led the NCAA with 35 goals and 71 points, and goaltender Thatcher Demko, who had a 27-8-4 record, .935 save percentage and 1.88 goals-against average in 39 appearances.
For Vesey, his Hobey victory this season sees him make good on his miss last season. Vesey was a finalist in 2014-15, but was beat out by then-Boston University forward Jack Eichel. Even with the loss to Eichel last season, few college players have been anywhere near as dominant as Vesey over the past two seasons. His 56 goals in his previous two campaigns are the most among NCAA players.
Following his outstanding, NCAA-leading 32-goal season in 2014-15, Vesey played a bottom-six role with the American team at the World Championship, racking up three assists en route to a bronze medal. It was his second international medal, as Vesey also helped Team USA capture gold at the 2013 World Junior Championship.
Vesey had an offer from the Nashville Predators, who drafted Vesey 66th overall in 2012, to turn pro during the off-season, but chose instead to return to Harvard for his senior season. He has since decided to test free agency rather than sign with the Predators, and he’ll be open to sign with a team of his choosing come Aug. 15. He’ll be one of the most sought after NCAA free agents this off-season, and reports have the Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins as the potential frontrunners to land him in free agency.
Notable Hobey winners include Eichel, Johnny Gaudreau, Ryan Miller, Chris Drury, Paul Kariya and Neal Broten.
(Featured image via Hobey Baker Memorial Award)