Three Nashville Predators draft picks, including two from their 2023 class, were named nominees for the college hockey equivalent of the Heisman Trophy on Friday.
Penn State forward Aiden Fink, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute forward Sutter Muzzatti and University of Massachusetts defenseman Ryan Ufko were named to the 2024 Hobey Baker Award list, given annually to the top men’s Division I college hockey player.
The winner will be announced on Friday, April 7, 2024, during the NCAA Frozen Four Championship in St. Paul, Minnesota.
Ufko, a fourth-round pick of the Predators in 2021, has turned quite a few heads this season — his first as co-captain of the Minutemen. He’s UMass’ third-leading scorer (19 points) and ranks fourth on the team in goals (six), and also earned Hockey East Defender of the Week honors at the end of November after helping the Minutemen sweep Providence, which was the No. 5-ranked team in the country at that point.
Last season, Ufko was named UMass’ Most Valuable Player after leading the team in blocked shots (48) and finishing third in points (24), and he was named to a second team Hockey East All-Star. Ufko was also the No. 11-ranked prospect in Nashville Hockey Now’s post-draft organizational rankings.
Fink, the final draft pick of former general manager David Poile’s career, is tied for 13th in the NCAA in goals (14) and 14th in scoring (30 points) — both team highs. Among freshmen, he ranks in the top five in goals and top 10 in points nationally, and he leads all first-year Big Ten players in both categories.
The 19-year-old forward, who was drafted 218th overall in June, was named the HCA Rookie of the Month in November after an eight-goal, 22-point performance that ended with a five-game point streak.
“He’s an offensive player who is competitive and hard on pucks,” Predators North American scout Brett Carson said of Fink during the draft. “He’s a puck hound and likes to shoot and score. It’s a good swing for us late on a guy who hopefully will produce and get a lot of opportunity at Penn State next season.”
Muzzatti, a 2023 fifth-round pick, leads the Engineers with 19 points and ranks second on the team with six goals. The 6-foot-6 sophomore was named to the ECAC Hockey All-Rookie Team and ECAC Hockey All-Academic Team last season.
“His size is the first thing you notice about him,” Predators North American scout Greg Drechsel said of Muzzatti during the draft.. “He may be one of those classic late bloomers and had a great opportunity at RPI to play in a lot of different situations. He shows high hockey IQ and uses his reach well.”
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