Islanders Alex Jefferies on Hobey Baker nod and how to improve

The New York Islanders logo (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
The New York Islanders logo (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

In the fourth round of the 2020 draft, the New York Islanders selected Alex Jefferies. The prep school product had a big year for the Gunnery with 69 points in 32 games and was poised to make the jump to Merrimack College after the draft.

In his first year with Merrimack, Jefferies has put up great numbers in his limited game time so far. In eleven games, Jefferies has ten points to his name (four goals and six helpers).

His play this year not only got him some special praise from his coach, but he also made the shortlist for the Hobey Baker Trophy.

New York Islanders prospect Alex Jefferies on Hobey Baker nod

When I asked Jefferies about the nod, he was obviously happy for it but realistic about his chances of winning the award:

"It felt really good. It was nice to see. I’m not worried about it too much. I just kind of focus on the team. I really want to keep winning. We had a little bit of a rough stretch so I’m happy the team is back on track and we’re winning. It was definitely nice to see, not too worried about it. But it was pretty cool as a freshman to see it."

Only two freshmen have ever won the Hobey Baker (think of it as college hockey’s version of the Heisman Trophy). The two freshmen are Paul Kariya in 1992-93 with a 100 point season (in 39 games) for UMaine and Jack Eichel in 2014-2015 for BU with a 71 point season.

The chances that Jefferies wins it are, well, unlikely.

The focus for him is of course squarely on the ice. With a 9-22-3 record, Merrimack won’t make the NCAA playoffs this season., but injuries have significantly set this team back. Something Jeffries has fallen victim to as well.

He’s just recovering from a knee injury that saw him miss a number of games recently. With back-to-back games against BU (where fellow Islanders draftee Logan Cockerill is the captain), Jefferies hopes to get back on the ice to help his team end the season well.

I asked Jefferies if he’ll have a little word with his fellow Islanders prospect Cockerill over the weekend:

"I did know he was drafted by the Islanders. I won’t care too much. I’ll just be focused on getting the win. But I’ll definitely be watching him. I’ve never played against him before so it will be pretty cool."

As a freshman who only played eleven games so far, Jefferies will likely stay in the college ranks for some time. So I asked him what he feels like he has to work on to eventually take the next step. And I really enjoyed his honest and specific answer:

"Definitely my play away from the puck, it’s kind of the thing I’ve been working on. Starts and stops. I kind of have a tendency to circle and turn my back to the puck. Just little things like that.And stopping at the net. There’s been a couple of games this year where the next day we watch film and there’s a play where I skate past the net and I could have just had a tap-in rebound goal if I stopped at the net. Little things like that I need to work on the most."

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I don’t often get that type of honest answer when I ask that question. Usually, it’s chalk answers like defense, speed, and consistency. This was a very specific answer and it shows you why this kid is so well regarded. He knows where he is and what he has to do to get to the next level.

It’s easy to see why the Islanders drafted him.