A deeper look at Brett Pollock

[ed. The following is a guest piece from @sdh0809, an Oil Kings diehard who has seen a ton of Brett Pollock over the years. I asked her if she’d give us a greater perspective on him, and that’s exactly what she’s done below. Happy reading!]

There are a number of different ways for
teams to acquire talent. They can draft players, trade for them, or negotiate
with players without a contract. One of the most dramatic ways of obtaining new
talent is trade deadline day deals.

The Flames acquired Brett Pollock in a deadline deal that saw them move Kris Russell
to the Stars and the Stars send back Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Pollock, and a conditional
2016 second round pick
. Though Jokipakka has spent this year with the Stars,
Pollock has been with his Major Junior club – the Edmonton Oil Kings.

Pollock was a
second round draft pick, at 45th overall, of the Stars in 2014

and signed
his entry level contract with the Stars during the current WHL season
.
Pollock has had a scoring touch with the Oil Kings over the last two seasons; he
recorded a 32
goal season and top scorer honours with the Oil Kings last season
, and has already surpassed last season’s point total with 67 points compared to
last year’s 62.

Background

Brett Pollock has spent the last four years with the Edmonton Oil Kings
of the WHL
. During that time, Pollock has been part of an Oil
Kings team that made it to the WHL finals in 2012-13,
won a Memorial Cup during
the 2013-14 season
, and made a first round exit in
the 2014-15 playoffs
. During the last two seasons, Pollock has worn an
“A” for the Oil Kings.

Pollock has been the main offensive threat
for the Oil Kings since many of their notable offensive threats from
their Memorial Cup-winning team have moved to either the NHL or the AHL. During
Pollock’s rookie season, he played a limited role for the team. Pollock played
only 40 games in his rookie year,
but his sophomore year saw him on Curtis Lazar’s wing and saw a 51 point jump in his production.
A solid player for the Oil Kings on their run to the Memorial Cup, Pollock saw
his role grow and capitalized on his new importance to the team.

This last year has seen Pollock on the Oil
Kings’ top line and a major
component of the Oil Kings offense
. If Pollock isn’t producing, chances are
good the rest of the offense isn’t producing much either.
Pollock works best with his most common line mate – Lane Bauer. Between them and the
third place scorer, there is a 19 point difference.

Point
Production

Pollock has produced consistently
more points each year that he’s played in the WHL
. Though the difference
isn’t as extreme as between his first and second years, there has been consistent growth. Even if
Pollock were to score no more points, which seems unlikely, he would have
increased his points once again this season.

Pollock isn’t a traditional sniper; he has
worked diligently to develop a more complete game on both sides of the puck. Pollock
has worked to improve his skating, using his size to protect the puck
, and
becoming a more complete two-way player. As the current WHL season has
progressed, Pollock has found himself with more time on the penalty kill; he
has been a staple of Oil Kings power play for the last two years. With his enhanced special teams role,
Pollock’s role as a forward who understands how and when to play defense has
become more apparent.

Though it is to be expected that Pollock’s
offensive production will dip when he moves into his first pro season, he
should have all the components required to remain an offensive threat. Beyond
that, he should be able to transition to his new environment and, much like in Junior,
see an increase in points produced year after year.

Pollock will not fill the role of elite
point producer, however, but will be more of a power forward and a two-way
player. Pollock is a player who can use
his two-way game – a
powerful forecheck
, improved
playmaking and stick handling, and ever-developing vision for where to put the
puck
 – for the best results.

Big
Game Experience and Leadership

Pollock has gained experience over his time
with the Edmonton Oil Kings when it comes to playing big games. With two WHL
championship series, one Memorial Cup, and a playoff race which was hotly
contested in the 2014-15 season, Pollock has played his fair share of
meaningful games.

While big game experience in Junior doesn’t
always translate to success at a professional level, Pollock’s ability to
contribute during big games is promising. Part of the
Oil Kings first goal in the Memorial Cup
, Pollock can contribute when he’s
under pressure.

Pollock used his Memorial Cup experience
and his time playing with some notable Oil Kings leadership (Lazar,
Reinhart, Corbett,
and Sautner)
to become a leader himself. On ice, the Oil Kings are driven by Pollock in
large part. During periods where Pollock
is playing well
, the whole team is playing well. If Pollock is having a bad
game, the rest of the team follows.
 

Pollock has also learned during his two
years wearing an “A” what kind of
attitude is needed to be successful
. His desire
to develop his game and willingness to work
reflects positively on him. In
a young team, experience in big game situations and experience being a leader
in a room (during wins and losses) has a value beyond the obvious. One only has
to look at the Oilers over the last few years to see what a lot of talent and
not a lot of leadership can produce.

Positive
Fit
 

The final, major positive about trading for
Pollock is that it fits with the Flames’ current strategy. The Flames seem
intent on collecting pieces for a solid team in the future.  In this respect, everything they acquired for
Russell in this trade is geared towards future development – the long game.
Pollock is a player who won’t be NHL-ready next season but has a lot of
potential. Furthermore, Pollock looks to be a good fit for the Flames’ bottom
six in the future.

The Flames already have superstars in Gaudreau, Monahan, Brodie, and
Hamilton. That’s not what Pollock will be. But something else the Flames need is players who can
complete their roster. They need players who will add depth to their roster in
the future: this is the place where Pollock fits and the reason why he’s a good
fit for the Flames. He can provide secondary scoring, play a defensively
responsible game, and contribute much like he did during the Oil Kings Memorial
Cup run: in the spaces left by superstars.

Conclusion

The trade which brought Brett Pollock to
the Calgary Flames was one of the least dramatic of the trade deadline.
However, Pollock’s potential to contribute to scoring, his apparent good fit
with what seems to be Calgary’s plans for the future, and his experiences
through his Junior career mean that he should be a decent prospect for Calgary
to develop. Pollock
isn’t the calibre of prospect who causes outrage amongst a fan base when he’s
traded
, but he is a solid prospect.

The watchword with Pollock will be what it
is with many young players: consistency. While he has games where he puts up
multiple points, he also has games where he looks like he’s not motivated to
skate. Hopefully, this unpleasant aspect of Pollock’s game is one which will be
ironed out during his first pro year.

The Flames have taken a risk on trading one
of their veterans for prospects, but there is a lot of potential in the trade
for the Flames to develop prospects to fill holes that will allow their team to
be a stronger force in the future. All in all, this is a safe developmental
trade for the Flames as they would have had several opportunities to watch Pollock
as the Hitmen are a Junior team in the Edmonton Oil Kings’ division and the
Hitmen are part of the greater Flames organization.

  • redricardo

    Great perspective sdh0809, thank you!

    This is one of the biggest things the Flames need to keep turning the corner. Get some bottom six players that actually have some skill, and can go play in the badguys zone every now and then. Instead of going out, playing in a shooting gallery and blocking shots like crazy, then getting praised for their “grit”.

    When Backlund was bottom 6, even if he wasn’t scoring, at least he was tilting the ice the right way. We need more of this. (Caveat: I don’t believe his line is bottom 6 anymore, you may disagree)

    • DoubleDIon

      I believe Backlund is still our best all around center. He’s not our best offensively, but he’s a much better defensive player and possession driver than our other centers. I think Bennett will pass him at some point, but I don’t think Monahan will.

      I get that this will be an unpopular position, but Backlund still does the heavy lifting for our team and allows Monahan the easy minutes at home. Just look at the 1st line’s home and away splits if you want evidence of Backlund’s importance to the team.

  • The Last Big Bear

    I still can’t believe Treliving pulled off this trade.

    I’ve seen plenty of Dallas games live, and I think Jokipakka is every bit as good as Russell, but is younger, bigger, and still under contractual control.

    If either Pollock or the pick turn into anY kind of NHLer, I think this trade goes from a solid win, to a slam dunk for the Flames.

    Sounds like Pollock has the potential to become a utility winger for the Flames, and his description reminds me of our (formerly) very own David Moss.

    I can’t describe how happy that would make me.

    • cberg

      Its nice to have someone who actually has seen and watched these players, rather than a few stats lines and out-dated assessments. From the few games of Jokipakka I’ve seen with the Flames, I’m pretty much in full agreement re: your assessment of him and that this trade is going to be a huge win for the Flames.

      As for Pollock a lot of the comments are the same, though this write-up seems pretty good, from someone who has been watching. I haven’t seen Pollock at all, but hope to get down to a Hitmen-Oil Kings game in Calgary on Saturday, March 12th to check him and a few other prospects out. From some video, though, what I saw seemed to indicate a much-higher ceiling that he is given credit for here, and especially by commentators. We can always hope!

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Of the 2 hard bodies that came to the Flames in the deal, Pollock is the only one who interests me, and he interests me a lot. Definitely willing to roll with him to see if he can indeed make the jump to full-time productive NHLer in the coming years. I like his pedigree.