FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Brett Pollock

The Dallas Stars selected Brett Pollock with the 45th selection of the 2014 NHL Draft: 11 picks after Mason McDonald, and nine picks before Hunter Smith. At the time, the 6’3, 197 lb. prospect was coming off of a Memorial Cup victory; he was seventh in Edmonton Oil Kings scoring then.

He remained in Dallas’ system for about a year and a half before he, alongside Jyrki Jokipakka and a second round pick, were traded to Calgary. Now the Sherwood Park native has a new favourite team – and his first professional season is coming up.

Season summary

The 2015-16 Oil Kings were not quite the same as the Memorial Cup champions version. In the seasons since, they’ve gone from top of the league to wild card contender; this past season, they were forced into a one-game playoff against the Medicine Hat Tigers – which they won – before bowing out in the first round to the eventual Ed Chynoweth Cup champion Brandon Wheat Kings.

As the seasons went by, though, Pollock grew. He went from .77 points per game to .89 to 1.08 – and has been the Oil Kings’ scoring leader for the past two seasons now. This year, Pollock scored 30 goals and tacked on an additional 48 assists for a total of 78 points (37 even strength primary) over 72 games: the Oil Kings’ leading scorer by 13 points (ahead of Lane Bauer, who had 65 points, 40 ESP), and up 35 points on their third-best guy. He was 18th in overall WHL scoring.

Pollock wrapped up his year by getting his first three professional games in with the Stockton Heat. He scored his first professional goal in that time.

Impact on team

For this, we turn once again to @sdh0809, a lifelong Oil Kings fan who has witnessed Pollock throughout his WHL career, and penned this piece on him back when the trade first happened.

Pollock was a key player for the Edmonton Oil Kings in the 2015-16 season. Not only was he key to
their offensive output, but he was also a large part of their leadership group. Pollock played his fourth
year in the WHL this year — having started as aa 16-year-old – on a team that welcomed 10 players
playing their first year in the WHL and again half as many in their second year, so veteran presence had a
special value for the Oil Kings. Wearing an “A” for the team this year, Pollock was most certainly
responsible for helping the new players settle into the WHL and find their feet.

The fact that Pollock was the Oil Kings’ main offensive threat should also not be discounted. Pollock
spent the majority of his year on the top line for the Oil Kings playing against teams’ most effective
checking lines. It became apparent as the season progressed that shutting down the Oil Kings’ first line –
normally Pollock-Bauer-Koch—effectively limited the Oil Kings’ offense. 

Pollock racked up an impressive
78 points in 72 games played. Playing for a team which managed limited offense in many situations,
Pollock’s points total is especially impressive. He managed to better his career high in points during
a season where his team had less offensive depth than ever before. Pollock would have benefited from
a centre like he had during the Oil Kings’ Memorial Cup run, but his work ethic and dedication were
certainly on display throughout the course of the season. 

One game to pay attention to is the Oil Kings’ tie break game to reach the 2016 WHL playoffs. The Oil
Kings were playing the Medicine Hat Tigers who they had not managed to beat in six meetings over the
course of the season. Pollock had a huge game with one goal and two assists. This game was a bounce
back from an awful season-ending game against Red Deer where Pollock was responsible for the entirety
of the Oil Kings’ offense. 

The thing that stands out about Pollock is his versatility. During his last year with the Oil Kings, he was
responsible for playing in all situations. Pollock was a key component for the Oil Kings’ power play, but
was equally important to the penalty kill – when he wasn’t the one sitting in the box. 

Pollock is a player
who is well aware of his size. At 6’3” he is big enough to play the role of power forward and on a
team of smaller players like the Oil Kings, Pollock’s size became important. His size and strength
made him more effective in the corners and protecting the puck than several of his teammates. 

Pollock’s expected absence will be keenly felt by the 2016-17 Oil Kings as they try to replace his
impact on the ice – in points, big game experience, and physical play – and off the ice in media savvy and
leadership.

What comes next?

It’s time for the big leagues. Pollock turned 20 on March 17, and it’s highly unlikely he’ll return to the WHL as an overager. He’s three games into his professional career, but 2016-17 will be his first professional season.

Pollock will be joining a handful of other Flames prospects to make the jump. He’ll likely play the entire year in Stockton, learning the professional game and how to play against men. It’ll be a year of development for him – and, with his entry-level contract set to kick in, the Flames will have three seasons with him to see how things go.

Pollock has the size to play in the professional ranks. He wasn’t quite a top scorer at the junior level, but he could still clearly score at that level – an important detail as he progresses. He likely won’t hit a point per game again, but even if he develops into a reliable depth player, that’s perfectly fine.

We’ll see how it all goes when he joins the Heat next season.