Scott Perunovich, a St. Louis Blues defenseman prospect, won the Hobey Baker Award on Saturday.
The junior from the University of Minnesota Duluth was voted the top men's player in NCAA ice hockey this season over finalists Jeremy Swayman, a Boston Bruins goalie prospect from the University of Maine; and Jordan Kawaguchi, a forward from the University of North Dakota.
"I'm extremely honored and humbled to be this year's Hobey Baker Award recipient," Perunovich said after the announcement was made on ESPN. "Five other [Minnesota Duluth players] have won this coveted award before me, so it's just a privilege to join them."
Perunovich, a 21-year-old junior who was selected by the Blues in the second round (No. 45) of the 2018 NHL Draft, agreed to a two-year, entry-level NHL contract on March 27.
He was second among NCAA defensemen with 40 points (six goals, 34 assists) in 34 games, three behind Nashville Predators prospect David Farrance (Boston University). Perunovich's 34 assists were second among NCAA players, eight behind Vegas Golden Knights forward prospect Jonathan Dugan (Providence), and his 22 power-play points (three goals, 19 assists) were tied with Dugan for the NCAA lead. Perunovich was the first defenseman to lead the National Collegiate Hockey Conference in scoring (32 points; four goals, 28 assists).
"The thing I'll miss the most is just going to the rink and kind of being with your friends for three years," Perunovich said. "All these great players that you play with and memories that you make that will last a lifetime. Just the memories that I made."
Perunovich helped Minnesota Duluth win the NCAA Division I championship in 2018 and 2019, and is the first Minnesota Duluth player to win the award since forward Jack Connolly in 2012.
Perunovich was denied a chance for a third straight NCAA championship and fourth time reaching the final game when the NCAA cancelled all winter and spring sports seasons on March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. The NHL paused its season that same day.
"It's tough with everything going on right now," Perunovich said. "Obviously, it's not the end to the season we wanted, but there's a much bigger picture with this whole COVID-19 crisis, so we're just looking to get past this.
"And I just wanted to acknowledge all the hard-working men and women on the front lines of this battle."
Swayman, a 21-year-old junior who was selected by the Bruins in the fourth round (No. 111) of the 2017 NHL Draft, signed a three-year, entry-level NHL contract on March 18.
He was 18-11-5 with a 2.07 goals-against average, .939 save percentage and three shutouts in 34 games, playing all but seven minutes for Maine this season. Swayman on Saturday won the Mike Richter Award voted as the best NCAA goalie this season, and earllier won the Walter Brown Award voted as the top United States-born NCAA player in New England, and was named Hockey East Player of the Year.
Kawaguchi, a 22-year-old junior, was second in the NCAA with 45 points (15 goals, 30 assists) in 33 games, seven behind Dugan. He was named NCHC forward of the year and was a finalist for player of the year. The undrafted player announced March 31 he will return to North Dakota for his senior season.
Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (University of Massachusetts) won the award last season.