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Marek: Hunter Brzustewicz has been described as ‘the Adam Fox of the OHL’
By Mike Gould22 days ago
Understandably, the name Adam Fox typically elicits a strongly negative reaction in Calgary hockey circles.
The Flames originally drafted the star defender in the third round of the 2016 NHL Draft. Fox refused to sign with Calgary and eventually forced his way out of the Carolina Hurricanes organization as well before finally making his way to his hometown New York Rangers.
In trading Fox’s rights to Carolina back in 2018, the Flames landed future top-line centre Elias Lindholm. And when the Flames traded Lindholm to the Vancouver Canucks on Wednesday, they landed top defence prospect Hunter Brzustewicz of the Rangers — the Kitchener Rangers, that is.
Sportsnet’s Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman dug a little deeper into the blockbuster deal on Thursday’s edition of The Jeff Marek Show. To hear Marek tell it, a handful of similarities have already been drawn between Fox and Brzustewicz.
Jeff Marek: From the Calgary side of things, they get Andrei Kuzmenko; a couple of young defence prospects, most notably Hunter Brzustewicz, who, by the way, and you’ll appreciate this, might be the most stylish player in the entire Canadian Hockey League. No one has his fashion more on point than Brzustewicz. I thought you’d like that one. He’s been referred to as the Adam Fox of the OHL, as well.
Elliotte Friedman: […] We’re on in Calgary live right now, right? Do you realize how many nightmares you’re giving Calgary fans by bringing up the name Adam Fox? Like, find another comparable.
Marek: I understand that. I’m just reporting what has been told to me, this is how he’s referred to by many around the OHL: the Adam Fox of the Ontario League. That’s all. I’m not trying to give anyone Adam Fox PTSD in Calgary. Apologize if that sends any shockwaves into the city but that’s how he’s been described.
Friedman: He’s definitely a talented kid. I don’t see these guys like you see them or Jason Bukala sees them, I completely concede that. But a lot of people have described him as kind of like the X-Factor of this deal. He was drafted just this past year, so Calgary has some years to decide on him. If you draft someone from the CHL, you hold his rights for two years. I don’t think Calgary spoke to the kid in advance. Vancouver, they’re doing what they’re doing because they’re in a go-for-it mode. You take your chances, and I think the Canucks are really happy that they didn’t give up one of their top prospects, whether it was Willander or Lekkerimäki. That was important to them. But they know that, of all the players they gave up in this deal, that this is the one that has the biggest upside for Calgary. This is a deal where you can’t judge the Flames now, you judge it with what they do with it, and this is the kid that I think really is the X-Factor for Calgary.
In addition to Brzustewicz, the Flames received winger Andrei Kuzmenko, defence prospect Joni Jurmo, and the Canucks’ own 2024 first- and fourth-round picks. The fourth-rounder can become a third if the Canucks reach the Western Conference Final this year.
Brzustewicz currently leads all OHL defenders, and is third in the entire league, with 69 points in 47 games this season. The Canucks selected the Washington, Michigan product in the third round (No. 75 overall) of the 2023 NHL Draft.
The Flames now boast eight picks in the upcoming 2024 NHL Draft: Vancouver’s first and conditional fourth, Chicago’s fifth (acquired from Vancouver for Nikita Zadorov), and their own first, second, third, fourth, and sixth.
With Lindholm gone, the Flames are now down to two key players set to become unrestricted free agents after this season: Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev. This year’s NHL trade deadline is scheduled for March 8.
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