Defenseman, 2018 second round pick is second draft pick, third Blue to
begin NHL career to win award; recently signed two-year, entry-level contract
ST. LOUIS -- Scott Perunovich got his professional contract recently. On Saturday, he received the highest honor as a college player by winning the Hobey Baker Award, voted as the top player in NCAA ice hockey.
The junior defenseman out of the the University of Minnesota Duluth won out over finalists Jeremy Swayman, a goalie prospect with the Boston Bruins from the University of Maine, and Jordan Kawaguchi, a forward from the University of North Dakota.
Perunovich, 21, selected by the Blues in the second round of the 2018 NHL Draft, agreed to a two-year, $1.85 million entry-level NHL contract on March 27; he becomes the second Blues draft pick (Tony Hrkac, 1987) and third Blue to begin their NHL career (free agent signee Peter Sejna, 2003) to win the award. He follows Colorado defenseman Cale Makar, who won the award last year.
"I'm extremely honored and humbled to be this year's Hobey Baker Award recipient," Perunovich said after the announcement on ESPN's SportsCenter.
Perunovich was second among NCAA defensemen with 40 points (six goals, 34 assists) in 34 games this season; his 34 assists were second among NCAA players, eight behind Vegas Golden Knights forward prospect Jack Dugan of Providence College; 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).
Perunovich helped the Bulldogs win back-to-back NCAA Division I championships in 2018 and 2019 and was hoping to help them to a three-peat, but the season was canceled March 12 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Perunovich is the sixth Minnesota Duluth player to win the award, the first since Jack Connolly in 2012. Tom Kurvers (1984), Bill Watson (1985), Chris Marinucci (1994) and Junior Lessard (2004) were previous Bulldogs to win the award.