Your three finalists are: Ryan Duncan, David Brown, and Eric Ehn.
So there ya go. Michigan fans are understandably angry that T.J. Hensick didn't make the final three. I agree that he probably should have at least been a finalist since he led the country in scoring and all, but none of this year's candidates really separated themselves from the field. This year is evidence of how much early defections are hurting college hockey. There is another guy that has matched Hensick's 69 points. Unfortunately, Paul Statsny has scored those 69 points for the Colorado Avalanche, and not the Denver Pioneers where he would have been a junior this season. It reinforces my theory that T.J. Hensick will probably be the last player from a major conference to reach the 200 career point mark for a long time.(Scott Parse ended up 3 points shy of the 200 point mark)
That's not to take anything away from this year's candidates. All three were given tremendous opportunities, and all three seized them.
Ryan Duncan could have easily been a third line forward this season. If Brady Murray, Drew Stafford, Travis Zajac, and Rastislav Spirko hadn't given up their eligibility, most people would have never even heard of Duncan. Instead, he got the opportunity to tag along with two of the most talented players in college hockey and took advantage of it by having a career year.
Nobody has benefited more from Jeff Jackson's arrival at Notre Dame than David Brown. After showing tremendous talent in his freshman year, things went downhill quickly for Brown. His sophomore season was a disaster. He only won 2 of the 15 games he appeared in and had a GAA of 4.30 with a dismal 87% save percentage. But with Jackson at the helm, the Irish were able to turn things around. The amount of shots Brown faced decreased significantly under Jackson, and in turn, his numbers dropped as well. Jackson molded the Irish into an airtight defensive team that rarely gave up quality opportunities, and Brown was the beneficiary.
Eric Ehn had a great season at Air Force. He was among the leading scorers in the nation, and led the Falcons to the Atlantic Hockey playoff championship in their first league in the league. For the most part though, people didn't really notice. Ehn was mentioned as a potential Hobey candidate because of his statistics, but was never really taken seriously. Ehn did get one opportunity though, to show the country what he was capable of, when Air Force drew number one Minnesota in the first round of the NCAA tournament. His Falcons couldn't pull off the upset, but they gave Minnesota a run for their money, and earned the respect of the rest of the country. Ehn had a great season, but if that game against Minnesota wasn't as close, he wouldn't have gotten this far. He is an excellent player though, and definitely deserves to be recognized as one of college hockey's best.
It's tough to say who will win. I see definite pros and cons with each candidate, and like I said, nobody really separated from the field as a clear cut choice. If I had to choose to between the three, I would take Ehn, but I wouldn't be surprised if either Brown or Duncan took home the award.