Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2020 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we look at Brendan Brisson.
After playing six games for the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers in 2018-19, Shattuck St. Mary’s product Brendan Brisson joined the Chicago Steel for his draft season. It was a dominant season for the Steel, going 41-7-1. The Steel were in first place and were crowned league champions when the season was cancelled due to COVID-19. Brisson scored 24 goals and 35 assists for 59 points in 45 games. Steel was named USHL Rookie of the Year, a part of the USHL All-Rookie Team, and part of the USHL 1st All-Star Team.
Steel also played at the World Junior A Challenge, where he scored five goals and seven assists for 12 points in just six tournament games. He helped Team USA to a silver medal in the tournament and was part of the tournament all-star team. Brisson is the son of former QMJHL player and current NHL super-agent Pat Brisson. He is committed to playing NCAA Division 1 hockey at the University of Michigan next season. A dual Canadian/American citizen, Brisson can still choose which country to play for as he has not appeared in any IIHF tournaments, however, the WJAC might be an indication that he’s leaning towards playing for the United States.
Brendan Brisson Scouting Report
Left Wing/Centre — shoots Left
Born October 22nd, 2001 — Manhattan Beach, California
Height 5’11” — Weight 177 lbs [180 cm/80 kg]
Brisson is already a good skater but could continue to improve this aspect of his game. His first few steps and his acceleration are good and his top-end speed is above average. There is room to lengthen his stride and add more power and speed though. He is very good on his edges and shows very good agility. This allows Brisson to quickly change directions and cut on a dime. Brisson’s lateral agility makes him dangerous when on the attack, both with and without the puck. His balance and lower body strength are good for his age. They should continue to improve as he matures and adds more muscle to his frame.
Brisson shines as a playmaker. He has outstanding vision and reads the offensive play extremely well. He has the hands and the smarts to speed the play up when necessary, or to slow it down to give his teammates time to get open. Brisson sees plays that others do not and finds his teammates with tape-to-tape passes to create scoring chances. He can quarterback the powerplay from the half-boards. His hands are slick, and it only takes a quick move or flick of his wrists for Brisson to change the passing angle and find a route to a teammate that was not apparent beforehand.
Brisson’s wrist shot and snapshot are both accurate and feature deceptive releases. This is helped by his quick hands. However, Brisson could look to add a bit more power to the shot going forward. This is again something that may come naturally with more muscle mass and maturity going forward. If there is a criticism though, it is that Brisson can sometimes shy away from the physical play along the boards or in front of the net. Again this is an area that can be developed.
Brisson works hard in his own zone. He brings effective backpressure to support the defence against the rush. He hounds the puck and looks for an opportunity to create a turnover and quickly transition things the other way. Again, Brisson is not overly physical. However, his smarts, a quick stick, and good positioning help him to remain effective in the defensive zone. He keeps his feet moving and does not quit on plays. Brisson’s offensive skills mean that the Steel have not used him much on the penalty kill or other defensive situations, preferring instead to focus on giving him favourable zone starts and matchups to create offence. However, this is more about the team’s best strategy than any deficiency in Brisson’s game. When he does find himself in his own zone, he’s more than capable there.
Projection and Comparison
Brisson has the potential to be a top-six forward in the NHL. Capable of playing both wing and centre, his future is likely on the wing. He has some things to work on before he is NHL ready and so that he can reach that potential. The main thing is gaining strength. In his situation, he has made a wise choice to go the NCAA route, where he will play less games but have more time to bulk up in the weight room as he prepares to play the professional game. Expect him to spend a year or two at Michigan before he is ready to turn pro. Brisson’s game is reminiscent of Alex Tanguay but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one that is meant to convey his level of skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Brendan Brisson that are available on youtube (including one from when Brisson was just nine years old).
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Main Photo: Forward Brendan Brisson of the Chicago Steel. (Photo Courtesy of the Chicago Steel/USHL)