Devils Draft Series: Brendan Brisson, College-Bound Playmaking Centerman

Brendan Brisson
Forward Brendan Brisson is an extremely underrated prospect. (Photo by: Chicago Steel)

Profile

Brendan Brisson is an 18-year-old, dual-citizen of the United States and Canada. He is listed as five-foot-ten and 179 pounds. The left-handed centerman has played his junior hockey career in the United States. After spending this season with the Chicago Steel of the USHL, Brisson is scheduled to attend the University of Michigan and continue his hockey career there. In the final 2020 Draft Prospect Rankings, he was ranked 20th among North American skaters, after being 31st in the midterm rankings.

The Statistics

Brendan Brisson started his junior career in the Los Angeles Junior Kings program. He played two years there, before moving to the Shattuck St. Mary’s program, where he spent three seasons. In two Under-16 AAA seasons, he tallied a total of 89 points in 107 games. Most notably, in his second and final season in U-16, he had 67 points in 54 games.

In his third season at Shattuck St. Mary’s, he played on the top team in the USHS-Prep league, where he played in 55 games and tallied a whopping 101 points (42 goals, 59 assists). This total led the league by six points and was the 22nd highest-scoring season in league history (total of 18,356 players qualified). For comparison, Kyle Okposo registered a 99-point season, Erik Haula an 84-point season, and Clayton Keller a 77-point season.

Brisson then made his way to the USHL, playing for the Chicago Steel this past season. In 45 games with the Steel, he tallied 24 goals and 35 assists, and posted a +17 rating. His 59 points ranked second in the league and second on his team. Worth noting, the Chicago Steel were the best team in the league with a 41-7-1 record.

Additionally, Brisson has represented Team USA on a few occasions. Most notably, in the 2019 World Junior A Challenge. He exploded for 12 points in six games and is one of the reasons why he shot up people’s rankings midseason. As mentioned, the next step for Brisson is the University of Michigan.

Brisson’s Scouting Report

Strengths

Brendan Brisson’s best skill is his skating, and it is elite. His speed, acceleration, and edgework are all spectacular and I have no issue calling him one of the best skaters in the draft. Watching his tape, there were several occasions where he blows past a defender or two, finding himself on a breakaway or creating an odd-man rush and setting up a teammate.

His second-best skill is his playmaking ability, and this is for a variety of different reasons. It starts with his skating, and his innate ability to think the game through at a very mature level for his age. Factor in his superb passing abilities, and you have yourself a solid center. But Brisson sets himself apart even more with his shot; he has a quick release and a forceful one-timer, especially for a smaller guy.

To build on his mature ability to think the game through at a high-level, Brisson often finds himself “in the right spot, at the right time.” And usually, this is due to luck, but Brisson’s positioning is outstanding. Watching his film, he finds areas on the ice that opens up passing lanes to both himself and for himself. He also does a good job of predicting where pucks will be after rebounds or other deflections. This is all a direct result of Brisson’s stellar ability to position himself.

Weaknesses 

For a guy that is considered by many as a borderline first-round selection, there are not all that many weaknesses in his game.

The main thing he has to focus on his building his strength. Like many smaller players, he is prone to being knocked off the puck and losing some board battles. But, if he can build more muscle it would address these issues, while improving the already sound aspects of his game. 

In turn, committing to the University of Michigan was a great move for Brisson. It will certainly enable him to get stronger thanks to the world-class weight rooms and training coaches a university such as Michigan offers. 

Projection

Brendan Brisson is an exciting prospect more people need to be talking about. He had a stellar year in the USHL with Chicago and made a great decision to play college hockey where his game will become even better than it already is.

Brisson should have no issue one day becoming a top-six playmaking center that can also be reliable in his own end. He has all the tools a centerman needs to be solid: skating, awareness, and stellar passing.

I have no idea how he is only being regarded as a fringe first-round pick. With that being said, I would expect to see him taken at the very end of round one, maybe even fall into the beginning of round two. Specifically, between picks 28-33. Nonetheless, whoever lands Brisson is going to get a stellar prospect for a great value. 

As you can tell, I am higher on Brisson than most. I think I have to officially add him to my favorite prospects list in the draft, joining the likes of Marco Rossi, Seth Jarvis, Kaiden Guhle, and Ryan O’Rourke. 

Fit With the New Jersey Devils

Unfortunately, it does not seem as if Brisson will be a Devil come October. The only way I can see the Devils taking him is if the Vancouver/Arizona pick somehow free falls into the late 20s or the Devils trade back. Also, being a center may scare the Devils away given the team’s depth at that position and the fact the team may go center earlier in the first round.

James’ Top-30 Prospect Rankings

1. Alexis Lafrenière (06/09/2020)

2. Tim Stützle (05/07/2020)

3. Quinton Byfield (05/08/2020)

4. Marco Rossi (04/30/2020)

5. Lucas Raymond (04/28/2020)

6. Cole Perfetti (05/06/2020)

7. Jamie Drysdale (05/01/2020)

8. Alexander Holtz (04/29/2020)

9. Yaroslav Askarov (05/05/2020)

10. Anton Lundell (05/11/2020)

11. Seth Jarvis (05/13/2020)

12. Jake Sanderson (05/04/2020)

13. Dawson Mercer (05/16/2020)

14. Noah Gunler (05/19/2020)

15. Rodion Amirov (05/12/2020)

16. Jack Quinn (05/09/2020)

17. Kaiden Guhle (05/31/2020)

18. Braden Schneider (06/29/2020)

19. Ryan O’Rourke (07/01/2020)

20. Dylan Holloway (05/14/2020)

21. Connor Zary (05/15/2020)

22. Jacob Perreault (05/26/2020)

23. Maverik Bourque (05/20/2020)

24. Lukas Reichel (05/18/2020)

25. Brendan Brisson (07/18/2020)

26. Hendrix Lapierre (05/21/2020)

27. John-Jason Peterka (05/28/2020)

28. William Wallinder (05/23/2020)

29. Jan Mysak (06/02/2020)

30. Roni Hirvonen (06/05/2020)

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