The 2020 NHL Draft is scheduled for October 6 and 7, conducted remotely. The Calgary Flames have a first-round selection and will pick 19th overall. In advance of the draft, we’ll be looking at some contenders to be selected at 19th.
Next up? Current Michigan Wolverines commitment, former USHL darling and deadly powerplay marksman Brendan Brisson.
Born in Manhattan Beach, bred within the Los Angeles Jr. Kings development program and buffed by the prestigious Shattuck St. Mary’s school in Minnesota, Brisson boasts an impressive hockey background. (He’s the son of prominent player agent Pat Brisson, who represents Noah Hanifin.)
The left-handed centreman—fresh off accolades aplenty playing Tier I Junior for the USHL’s Chicago Steel—sizzles in both ends of the ice though his skills outstrip his size. At 6’0” and 185 pounds, Brisson has a solid but lean frame that refrains from trudging through the corners or engaging enemy shoulders much.
Whereas some scouts lynch him for a lack of physicality, most coaches laud him for his intuitive play-making, a penchant for pick-pocketing unaware defenders and an absolute turret of a half-wall one-timer.
Truckloads of goals from the same spot, same motion. Occupying the office favoured by such nameless nobodies as Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and Patrik Laine (but on the opposite side as a lefty), the centreman scorches one-timers on the power play nonstop. No matter the angle at which he receives the puck, Brisson always blasts it to the upper mesh shelves and occasionally dents orange Gatorade bottle lids as he goes.
Away from the half-wall, Brisson thrives on his vision. He moves the puck like an alchemist—through drop passes and stretch feeds and blueline interceptions, he smelts routine plays into golden scoring chances. The deft and deceptive skater also brandishes an active stick in the defensive zone, shadows the puck as reliable centreman do.
Brendan Brisson gets a lot of love for his goal-scoring ability – especially that one-timer on the PP. But he can dish it as well.
— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) May 26, 2020
Dobber’s Cam Robinson characterizes Brisson as a “cerebral and effective centre with nasty finishing ability” and called him “the straw that stirred the drink” for the 41-7-1 Steel troop.
TSN’s Craig Button elaborated on the ‘cerebral’ element:
[Brisson] plays with a determined approach and his sense for the game, its situations and his skills, allows him to contribute in all areas. He’s improved so much in three years and will only get better with time.
As previously mentioned, some onlookers question his grit and gristle at the moment. But nobody doubts that additional meat and maturity on his bones as he grows in the NCAA for Michigan this season could straighten that out.
With bountiful production comes exorbitant prizes. Named USHL Rookie of the Year and awarded a berth on the league’s First All-Star Team, Brisson posted 24 goals and 59 points in 45 games for the Steel this past season. He finished second in the entire league in points, huffing down the neck of his Chicago teammate Mathieu De St. Phalle who led the USHL with only one more.
Brendan Brisson, just magic. pic.twitter.com/eorgGJxEB1
— Future Scope Hockey (@FSHockeycenter) March 24, 2020
Brisson also sported a Team USA badge at the 2019 World Junior A Challenge in Dawson Creek, BC. The Americans snagged a bronze medal at the event that witnessed Brisson score 5 goals and a tournament-topping 12 points in only 6 games, which garnered him a spot on the tournament All-Star Team. Apparently, the only two players to ever notch as many points in World Junior A Challenge history were Andrei Svechnikov and Nick Schmaltz—elite company.
Availability and fit
Projecting how the Flames top-six will appear in a month is already somewhere between rolling dice and reading palms. So, Brisson’s possible fit like four years from now? Forget it.
But flawed foresight aside, here is what we can guess. Sean Monahan could very well be the Flames’ number-one centre or number-two centre, but he could also be absent from the roster entirely. Mikael Backlund will be 35 years old, regressing. Sam Bennett may just be sipping artisan coffee on the slippery streets of Seattle by then.
So at the very least, the Flames will likely need to fill a secondary centre role, possibly even the helm of the position too. If they take Brisson in the middle of the first-round, the Flames’ staff will do their darndest to mould him into a suitable replacement for one of these bygone centremen.
As for his availability at 19th overall? Promising. Elite Prospects slates him at 14th on their final 2020 NHL Draft rankings, but FC Hockey names him 41st on their list. Craig Button ranks him 22nd, McKeen’s Hockey at 21st and Bob McKenzie at 30th overall among draft eligibles. Average out these voices and the megaphone blares a 26th overall selection, so the Flames should be able to snatch him easily if they so desire.
2020 First Round Targets
Braden Schneider | Kaiden Guhle | Seth Jarvis | Connor Zary | Jacob Perreault | Noel Gunler | Lukas Reichel | Dylan Holloway | Hendrix Lapierre | Jan Myšák | Jake Neighbours | Mavrik Bourque | Ozzy Wiesblatt | John-Jason Peterka | Yaroslav Askarov | Tyson Foerster | Helge Grans