Drew LeBlanc went from great to incredible in just over a week’s time. He’d already helped his college team, the St. Cloud State Huskies, go to the 2013 NCAA Frozen Four for the first time in their history. On Friday, he was named the newest winner of the Hobey Baker Memorial Award as college hockey’s player of the year. A few hours later, he signed a one-year contract with the Chicago Blackhawks.
In his time at St. Cloud State, LeBlanc earned 42 goals and 147 points in 171 games and was the captain of the Huskies for the past two seasons. This season, he scored 50 points in 42 games and lead nationally in assists. He was also named the WCHA Outstanding Student-Athlete of the Year and Player of the Year, something that had never happened in the WCHA’s history.
In the 2011-12 season, LeBlanc suffered a compound leg fracture that ended his season, but that didn’t stop him from performing his duties as captain. After his surgery, he would go to practice in a wheelchair to watch the team. As he progressed in his rehab, he would pull an exercise bike rinkside to watch them practice.
The newest member of the Blackhawks has a prior connection to Chicago. Before going to St. Cloud State, LeBlanc played on the USHL’s Chicago Steel from 2006-2008, where he scored 19 goals and 59 points in 78 games.
LeBlanc will report to Blackhawks practice soon, possibly Monday, and will wear number 14 (his college number, 19, is already taken by Jonathan Toews). When asked if or when LeBlanc would play, coach Joel Quenneville answered “We’ll see” and said that his performance in practice would dictate that decision.