Then there were three. On Thursday, the three finalists for the Hobey Baker Award, dubbed the Hobey Hat Trick, were revealed. Amongst them was University of Denver captain Will Butcher.

The only defenseman remaining in contention, Butcher is up against Northeastern’s Zach Aston-Reese and Mike Vecchione from Union College. All three are seniors. Aston-Reese has already signed an entry-level deal with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and is currently playing with their AHL affiliate.

Butcher ranked second in the nation in points by a defenseman with 36 (seven goals). A two-way player, his rating of plus-25 was ninth amongst all players. He also was the captain of the nation’s No. 1 team.

Of the three finalists, Butcher is the only player still competing at the college level, as the Pioneers will head to the Frozen Four in Chicago, where they will face Notre Dame in a semifinal matchup on April 6.

Butcher is a prospect of the Colorado Avalanche, who selected him in the fifth round (123rd overall) of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft. The Avs have until Aug. 15 to sign the 22-year-old, lest he becomes an unrestricted free agent.

The last defenseman to make the final three was Boston University’s Matt Gilroy in 2009. he was also the last blueliner to be a finalist.

The three finalists were selected from the initial list of 10 candidates by the 27-member Selection Committee and an additional round of online fan balloting to determine this year’s Hobey Baker winner. Criteria for the award includes: displaying outstanding skills in all phases of the game, strength of character on and off the ice, sportsmanship and scholastic achievements.


Image courtesy of the Denver Pioneers.