Saturday, April 12, 2008

Porter wins Hobey Baker

The Hobey Baker Memorial Award Foundation announced today that Phoenix Coyotes prospect Kevin Porter, a senior at the University of Michigan, has won the 2008 Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s top player.

Porter, 22, ranks 2nd in Division I scoring with 33-30-63 in 43 games. The Michigan captain finished his collegiate career with 85-98-183 and 115 penalty minutes (PIM) in 162 games.

Porter was selected by the Coyotes in the fourth round (119th overall) of the 2004 Entry Draft.
>> team release
The Canadian Press also had a good story about Porter's dedication to the Michigan program.

Hobey Baker winners have had mixed success at the pro level, given that many top youngsters leave the NCAA for the NHL before they're able to win the league MVP. Some notables among current NHLers who have won include Matt Carle, Jordan Leopold, Ryan Miller, Mike Mottau, Chris Drury, Brendan Morrison and Paul Kariya.

If you go further back, Neal Broten and Tom Kurvers won in the early '80s.

This year, the other finalists were Nathan Gerbe from Boston College and Ryan Jones from Miami University. Gerbe's a pint-sized Sabres prospect, and Jones was drafted by the Wild (and is currently playing in the AHL with Houston). Porter and Gerbe are Michigan guys; Jones is from Chatham, Ontario.

In any event, it's good news for Phoenix that Porter put up the kind of year he did four years after being drafted out of the U.S. national under-18 program. He's not the biggest player around, but is considered one of the top defensive forwards in NCAA hockey and that would set him up nicely for a pro career.

Expect him to get some time in the NHL next season in Phoenix.

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At 11:44 p.m., April 12, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

There are some notable red flags here, though. When it's a senior that wins, it usually means very little... in a way it is unfortunate, but often the best collegiate prospects are signed before their senior season, and when a Hobey winner is a senior, they almost never have an impact.

Doesn't mean Porter won't, but there have been some notable misses amongst the winners recently (I'm looking at you, Peter Sejna and Junior Lessard).

At 2:15 p.m., April 14, 2008, Blogger Unknown said...

One thing that's impossible to appreciate about Porter unless you've watched him live is just how fast he is. I saw that when I made a trip to Ann Arbor around Thanksgiving and watched Michigan roast the Gophers. Porter had one play where he was on goalie Jeff Frazee, trying to play the puck behind the net in a heartbeat, steal the puck from him, and deposit in the net. Frazee is a head case, but Porter made that play.

I saw it again last Thursday night, on a backchecking effort. Notre Dame had a 3-on-2, with Chad Kolarik gamely, but vainly, trying to catch up to the trailer. All of a sudden, Porter comes flying out of nowhere, picks up one of the wingers, and the defenseman was able to switch to the third guy, and the Irish got no scoring chance at all.

It is also difficult to overstate the leadership job that Porter and Kolarik (who also just signed with the Coyotes) did for that team this year. They were the only two seniors on a team with 11 freshmen, and a history of selfish play from upperclassmen. (See: Hensick, T.J.) Starting in August, they devoted a lot of time to making sure that that wasn't true of this team.

Different build, and completely different talent level, but the Michigan player I compare Porter to is Matt Herr. Herr put the 1998 team on his shoulders and carried it to a title. That he also played in the NHL was surprising.

I think that Kevin Porter has a pretty good chance to make it. I also think that saskhab is wrong about senior Hobey winners being disappointments relative to other winners. In addition to Jordan Leopold, Brendan Morrison and Chris Drury were also senior winners.


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