NHL Draft Prospect Profile #51: Brady Vail


Drafted 94th Overall by the Montreal Canadiens.

Brady Vail has improved by leaps and bounds this year, after a disappointing rookie season.  A Centre for the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL, Vail went from scoring 3 goals and 10 points in 2010-11, to scoring 22 goals and 55 points this past season, in what was a real breakout campaign for the young American forward. However Vail improved in more than just stats.  He also improved his defensive game, his aggressiveness, and his conditioning which allowed the Windsor coaches to use him in more important situations, and to give him more ice time overall.  Born in Palm City, Florida; Vail is yet another example of how the game is making some inroads into the Southern United States, similar to our previously profiled Nick Kerdiles.  However the level of competition in the Southern United States is still not great, and the Vail family recognized this.  When he was a teenager, and it became apparent that Brady Vail had special hockey talent, the family moved to Detroit, Michigan so that Vail could play against better competition and continue to grow as a player.

Born Mar 11 1994 — Palm City, FL
Height 6.01 — Weight 190 — Shoots Left

2009-10 Waterloo Black Hawks USHL 48 4 4 8 40 -14 2 0 0 0 0
2010-11 Windsor Spitfires OHL 61 3 7 10 27 -3 16 4 0 4 4
2011-12 Windsor Spitfires OHL 68 22 30 52 55 1 4 0 0 0 4

Vail is an effective two way centre.  Offensively he is strong on the puck and is at his best playing a cycle game down low.  A tireless worker, Vail wins a ton of board battles and is never afraid to get himself into traffic.  He has a hard, accurate shot and a quick release.  Vail is also a good passer, and has decent vision to find the open man in the offensive zone.  While Vail has greatly improved this season, and is much better with the puck on his stick, he still isn’t the type of player who will dangle a ton of defencemen, or deke guys out.  His offensive game is more straightforward and based on pure north-south play, and a dogged determination.

Defensively, Vail is an incredibly intelligent player.  He uses strong positional play, and good insticts, to almost always be in the right spot in the defensive zone.  He understands how to cut down on passing lanes, and to block shots.  A dogged player, he gets into his opponents face, and his high energy level can get under an opponent’s skin.  Vail finished the season playing key minutes for the Spitfires, as he was a prime player on the penalty kill and was given the key assignment of always being matched against the opponent’s top line.

Vail’s skating stride is unorthodox and choppy.  Despite this he generates decent top end speed, and reaches it quickly with good acceleration.  He has good balance and is strong on his skates, making it difficult to knock Vail off the puck.  Vail however could stand to work on his agility and pivots, as his lateral movements, and quick changes in direction do need some work going forward.

We believe that Vail’s maximum potential is to be a 2nd line NHL forward, however its more likely he ends up as a third liner who can also provide some scoring.  We’d compare his game and potential to Dave Bolland of the Chicago Blackhawks.

… and thats the Last Word.