Macklin Celebrini of Canada during the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship game between Finland and Canada on December 26, 2023 in Gothenburg
Photographer CARL SANDIN
2024 NHL Draft

Macklin Celebrini continues to shape history with Hobey Baker nomination

Macklin Celebrini continues to make history. On Wednesday, the Boston University centre was named one of 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given to the top NCAA Div. 1 men's hockey player.

It’s not simply given to the player with the most points. There are four criteria against which nominees for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award are considered:

  • Strength of character, on and off the ice
  • Contribution to the integrity of the team and outstanding skills in all phases of the game
  • Scholastic achievement and sportsmanship
  • Compliance with all NCAA rules, including being a full-time student in an accredited college or university and completing 50 percent or more of the season

Because of this specific set of requirements, we don’t often see freshmen nominated, much less win the award. In fact, just three freshmen have ever won it – Paul Kariya (1993), Jack Eichel (2015), and Adam Fantilli (2023). 

All three of those players were born in October. They turned 18 at the start of their first college season. Celebrini is a different case. He won’t turn 18 until June 13th; well after the season has concluded. 

He is the youngest player in college hockey this year and the youngest player ever nominated for this award. At the time of writing, the 6-feet-tall, 190-pound forward sits at or near the top in several statistical categories. 

Over 33 games, Celebrini leads the nation in points per game (1.67) and goals per game (0.91). He’s second in goals (30), third in points (55), and fourth in shots (158) and power-play goals (11). We haven’t witnessed a 17-year-old produce at this level in nearly 40 years. 

Needless to say, he has Contributed to the integrity of the team and has outstanding skills in all phases of the game criteria checked off. 

This isn’t the first time that Celebrini made history. Just last season with the Chicago Steel of the USHL, the then 16-year-old led the league in goals (46) and points (86) – both new records among U17 skaters in that league’s history. The previous goal mark by a 16-year-old was 33. 

It was that demonstrably impressive campaign that helped pave the way for the North Vancouver-born skater to move onto the NCAA early. 

The mere fact that Celebrini is able to play at BU at his age is telling of his scholastic strengths. This is a person who accelerated and completed his high school classes and took the SATs as a 16-year-old. Clearly, he’s a studious individual. 

In addition to the nomination, Wednesday provided more hardware for the young man. He was named Hockey East Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. He is just the fourth player to win both of those wards in the same season. He joins Eichel (2015), Kariya (1993), and Brian Leetch (1987). 

He recorded a point in 25 of 30 games played, including 19 multi-point games and six games with at least three points. The 17-year-old was twice named Hockey East Player of the Week, Pro Ambitions Rookie of the Month in January, and was named Hockey East and National Player of the Month in October. Celebrini is the first Terrier to record 30 goals in a season since Chris Drury scored 38 as a third-year player during the 1996-97 season.

Winning the Hobey Baker award would be a nice feather in Celebrini's cap, but it will not affect his stock heading into June's draft. The presumptive first-overall pick has shown time and again that he is a dynamic, nuanced, powerful centre capable of becoming the face of an NHL franchise. 

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This article is about:
2024 NHL Draft Boston Univ. Chicago Steel NHL NCAA USHL Macklin Celebrini Jack Eichel Adam Fantilli Paul Kariya Brian Leetch
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