Over the past few seasons, the Bears have lost several staples of their back end. In 2015-16, Nate Schmidt left the Bears roster, as he made the Washington Capitals roster out of training camp. This year, in the 2017-18 season, Christian Djoos and Madison Bowey have left the Bears behind, beginning to play full time for the Capitals. In years past, all of these players were effective defensemen for the Bears, so their departures have left a hole in the chocolate and white’s back end.
With high draft pick Lucas Johansen slowly becoming a star on the Bears back end, it’s easy for other players to go unnoticed. One of those players that is flying under the radar is number seven, Connor Hobbs.
Coming into his draft year, Hobbs was mostly known as a physical, shut-down defenseman for his WHL team, the Regina Pats. Being 6’1″ and almost 200 pounds helped him fulfill his role of keeping the other team from scoring. The Washington Capitals organization picked him in the fifth round, at 143rd overall, during the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. Expectations are usually low for late picks such as Hobbs, but Connor has exceeded all expectations this season.
In the 2015-16 season with Regina, Connor made a leap in his offensive production, scoring 41 points in 58 games, compared to his 16 points in 33 games the previous year. It was clear that Hobbs had offensive talent, as well as that shutdown ability that he was known for going into the draft. In his draft year +2, he continued to surprise people, scoring well over a point per game. In his final season with Regina, Hobbs recorded 85 point in 67 games, scoring at a 1.26 point per game rate.
That would be Hobbs’ last season in junior hockey, as he made his professional debut with the Bears at the beginning of the 2017-18 season. With the Bears this season, he has recorded 4 points in 19 games, missing a significant amount of time due to a wrist injury. Although this production is not as much as it was during his junior seasons, his numbers do not tell the entire story. Hobbs’ two-way play is as good as it’s always been, and his shots from the point on the power play are nothing to scoff at. His offensive game is constantly improving and, although his numbers do not currently reflect that, I believe they will in time. Overall, Hobbs has had a successful year with the Bears so far, even though he is flying under the radar. If he continues on this path, the NHL is a very real possibility in his future.