Which player won the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence for commitment to excellence through character competitiveness and athleticism?

By Priyanka Jun 29, 2024 #award #Hockey #NHL
Which player won the E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence for commitment to excellence through character, competitiveness, and athleticism?

Michael Hage Wins E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence

The 2024 E.J. McGuire Award of Excellence has been awarded to Chicago U.S. Hockey League’s 18-year-old forward Michael Hage. The award is given to the NHL draft prospect who best exemplifies commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness, and athleticism.

Hage suffered a dislocated right shoulder during his first day of training camp last season and missed more than six months following surgery. He was able to play in 13 games. This season, he was fourth in the league with 75 points (33 goals, 42 assists) in 54 regular-season games and had four points (two goals, two assists) in two playoff games. He is committed to play at the University of Michigan next season.

Those who know Hage believe his work ethic will allow him to get his game to the level it needs to be to enjoy success in the NHL.

“Whether it’s fair or not, he’s been labeled as a one-dimensional player, but it’s a very important dimension,” Central Scouting director Dan Marr said. “In the National Hockey League, scoring is one of the best parts of the game. That’s what he’s going to bring to the table with his team.

“When I look down the road, I can see him impacting an NHL club like a Chris Kreider. A guy that can score goals on a consistent basis, score timely goals, help teams win games. I think he just needs to be coached up a bit and he’ll get that in college hockey. That just comes with experience and maturity.”

Hage has the best shot in the 2024 draft, but questions about the other elements of his game made him one of the more divisive prospects in the minds of scouts. But TSN resident director of scouting Craig Button remembers his father, longtime NHL scout Jack Button, telling him stories about scouts having the same concerns about Mike Bossy before the Islanders selected him in the 1977 NHL Draft. No one is comparing Hage to Bossy, but Hage has displayed a commitment to become more of a playmaker and earn the trust of his coaches with his play away from the puck. He’ll have time to work on those areas of his game at Boston University and has said he’s got a chip on his shoulder when it comes to the teams that passed on him.

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