FlamesNation Player Evaluations: Brandon Hickey

The 2014 NHL draft looked great, mostly because the Flames got Sam Bennett out of it. Once you delve past the first round, though, the shine on it fades… well, a fair amount. 

The second best player the Flames selected out of that draft may have been their third round pick, Brandon Hickey. However, after adding his name to the conversation of defence prospects to look forward to, Hickey appears to have taken a step back in his sophomore year.

Season summary

After posting six goals and 17 points through 41 games with the Boston University Terriers as a freshman, Hickey dropped to just five goals and only eight points through 36 games in his second year of NCAA hockey. However, it should be noted one of his goals was on the powerplay, and another was an empty netter.

The Terriers were knocked out of the NCAA tournament in the regional semifinals by a score of 7-2 by Denver; Hickey went pointless in the game.

There was one other tournament Hickey played in: the World Juniors, as he became the first player out of the NCAA Team Canada selected since Jaden Schwartz back in 2012. Unfortunately, the tournament didn’t go well: not for Team Canada, as they finished in sixth place, and not for Hickey, who went pointless through five games and was used in an exclusively defensive role. 

He wasn’t perfect in that tournament, but he wasn’t the problem, either. And while he may have deserved more of a chance than he got, there may have been good reason for him to not get one, anyway.

Impact on team

Hickey’s perceived decline likely isn’t entirely on him. In his freshman year, the Terriers were first place in Hockey East with the aid of leading scorer Jack Eichel; this season, Eichel graduated to the NHL and the Terriers fell to fifth place. In 2014-15, the Terriers had six players with at least 30 points; in 2015-16, only three players had those numbers.

That doesn’t account for all of Hickey’s decline, though. Take a look at the points comparisons between Terriers defencemen last season, and this one:

boston terriers defencemen points

(It should be noted Ahti Oksanen is listed as both a forward and a defenceman.)

In his freshman year Hickey was fourth in Terriers defencemen scoring, and just one point back of being third. In his sophomore year, he was sixth in defencemen scoring: five points back of fifth, and 14 points back of fourth. While he wasn’t the only Terrier to decline, some still put together strong years.

It wasn’t just points where Hickey declined. In his 2014-15 season he had 115 shots on goal: 2.8 per game, third on the team behind Ahti Oksanen and Matt Grzelyck; Gryzelck only had six shots more.

In 2015-16 Hickey fell to just 84 shots over 36 games, falling to 2.3 per game. But! When you exclude Oksanen, he led all Terrier defencemen in shots by at least 14.

boston terrier defencemen shots

What comes next?

Hickey’s apparent decline this past season isn’t desirable, but it’s not as though it happened in a vacuum. His plummet in points is certainly concerning, but the fact he was still trying to create, maybe more than most on the Terriers’ blueline, does bring a ray of light to what was otherwise a discouraging season.

And it’s not as though Hickey is needed immediately. He’s played two years of college; he likely has at least one more season, possibly two, still to play in the NCAA. Hiccups happen – and Hickey’s junior year should give us a better idea of if 2015-16 was cause for concern, or just a blip on the radar in his development.

  • The GREAT Walter White

    I could have written this about the 2014 draft 23 months ago…in fact, I have many times….

    We get McDonald and Smith. Canucks get Demko and Nikita……and we picked before them.


  • freethe flames

    Hickey remains an interesting prospect and it was probably good for him to return to Boston for one more year. The question is how far will Rasmus and Kyllington move past him with a year in the AHL?

  • freethe flames

    Word out of Colorado is that Roy wants his defence to get bigger and meaner; meaning that Barrie is on the trading block. Personally I don’t see any need for him with the Flames but it poses the question do the Flames have anything that Roy might want and what could we get in return.

    There is lots of buzz that there will be significant moves made around or at the draft. Hopefully the Flames make some good moves to move the rebuild forward.

      • freethe flames

        WW I like how you are thinking in this case. However I think Eng’s might be able to be part of a bigger deal that the Flames could hatch with Colorado. I like their back up goalie Pickard and he is a RFA and they have a highly touted 19 year old who was the second leading scorer in the AHL last year with 60 points in 52 games. Swapping the 6th for the 10th and some other moving pieces interests me; one of these pieces would be either Eng’s(big and mean) or Wide’s who could possibly rebound and replace Barries PP minutes.

        I will not be surprised if BT pulls something interesting out of the hat near the draft. I also am looking forward to when buyouts occur to see who shakes loss from the Flames and other teams.

          • freethe flames

            The more I think about my initial proposal and read your thought here; I was being overly optimistic. Probably overvaluing the 6th and their desire for getting bigger on D. I still think this type of deal could be win/win with some tinkering.

            Pickard and Rantanen would hit both of our needs; someone who could be our starting goalie and a top 6 RW. Both young. 6th, 54th, one of Engs/Wide’s, Poirier/Klimchuk and Kulak for these two and their 40th?

    • Baalzamon

      You can only protect three defensemen in the expansion draft (unless you do the whole “8 skaters” thing, but I think there are more than four forwards we want and need to protect, no?), so spending significant assets to get someone like Barrie, right now, seems a little irresponsible to me.