Paul Kariya. Jack Eichel. Adam Fantilli.
Those are the only three freshmen to win the Hobey Baker Award as the best men's college hockey player. Kariya had 989 points in 989 games, Eichel just scored 26 points in his first playoff appearance to help the Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup, and Fantilli will be one of the first names called at the NHL Draft on June 28 in Nashville.
Welcome back to another edition of the "Names to Know" series, where we profile prospects the Blue Jackets could potentially draft in two weeks.
The Blue Jackets have the No. 3 overall selection in the draft, and because the Chicago Blackhawks will take Connor Bedard barring any unforeseen circumstances, the draft starts at the No. 2 pick, which belongs to the Anaheim Ducks.
While Fantilli is the consensus No. 2 pick, the Ducks could always pass on him, leaving him available for the Jackets.
An 18-year-old from Toronto, Fantilli opted to play his junior hockey in the United States with the USHL's Chicago Steel, where he starred for two years before heading to Michigan to play college hockey.
With the Wolverines, Fantilli took the college hockey world by storm, scoring 30-35--65 in 36 games, leading Michigan to a Big Ten Tournament title and a Frozen Four appearance that culminated with him receiving the Hobey Baker Award.
FloHockey does a great job profiling Fantilli's game in the video below.
Fantilli is a 200-foot center with elite size that isn't afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice or drop the gloves.
FRIDAY NIGHT FISTICUFFS— The College Experience (@TCEonSGPN) February 11, 2023
There were a combined 28 penalties, and 110 penalty minutes between Michigan and Michigan State
Wolverine stud, and culprit, Adam Fantilli recorded a Gordie Howe Hat Trick (Goal, Assist, & Fight)#CawlidgeHawkey #TheExperience
If Bedard wasn't in this draft, Fantilli would be a home-run No. 1 pick and likely would have gone first in the previous three drafts as well. The Blue Jackets are desperate for a No. 1 center, and Fantilli would fit that need perfectly, assuming he forgoes the rest of his college eligibility and jumps straight to pro hockey.
Players like Fantilli don't come around often, and while nothing is a sure thing in sports, the chance that Fantilli becomes an elite No. 1 center is extremely high.
|Adam Fantilli via hockeydb.com||Regular Season||Playoffs|
|2022-23||U. of Michigan||Big-10||36||30||35||65||67||31|
If Fantilli somehow leaves Nashville as a Blue Jacket, he will change the entire franchise. He's that special.