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 Brett Berard.
Brett Berard was one of the top forwards on the US NTDP Under-18 team this season. He put up 16 goals and 18 assists for 34 points in 41 games. Berard and his US teammates won the U-18 Five Nations Tournament in January and were expected to be top contenders at the IIHF Under-18 World Championships before they were cancelled due to the global pandemic.
Last season Berard played for the NTDP Under-17 squad. He put up six goals and 20 points in 51 games played. Berard also put up two assists in five tournament games at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He is committed to playing hockey for the Providence College Friars next season. Should he change his mind, his CHL rights are still up for grabs as he has not been drafted. That likely indicates that teams believe his Providence commitment is pretty firm.
Berard is the son of longtime NCAA head coach David Berard, the longtime Providence coach who is now at Holy Cross. He was also a goalie at Providence. His brother,
Brady Berard will play for the US NTDP U-17 team next year and is also committed to go to Providence.
Brett Berard Scouting Report
Left Wing — shoots Left
Born September 9th, 2002 — East Greenwich, Rhode Island
Height 5’9″ — Weight 152 lbs [175 cm / 69 kg]
Berard is undersized, both in his height and the fact that he weighs just 152 pounds. He makes up for this with excellent skating ability. Berard has an explosive first step and very good acceleration. He can change speeds when attacking on the rush, giving defenders problems. His top-end speed is also very good. Berard is also very elusive. He has excellent lateral agility and edgework. He makes tight turns and can change directions extremely quickly. Berard has a low centre of gravity and this helps him to be surprisingly strong on his skates for his size. It can help him to drive the net both with and without the puck and win battles along the boards. Still, his lack of strength is a limiting factor when facing big opponents.
Berard pairs his strong skating with excellent stickhandling ability. He is deadly in one-on-one situations as he can make a quick dangle and also can use his feet to get around a defender. This also allows him to open up passing lanes and set up a teammate. He sees the ice extremely well and reads the play with high-end hockey IQ, finding the smart pass to an open teammate to set up a scoring chance. Berard can control the play on the half-boards on the power play. He acts as a quarterback, keeping the puck moving and finding smart plays.
Berard can also be a goal scorer. He has a very good release on his wrist shot, and his quick hands allow him to change the angle and confuse goaltenders. His shot is also very accurate. It has decent power but could be even better as he adds muscle to his frame. Berard is willing to drive the net both with and without the puck and can finish in tight with those quick hands and the ability to elevate the puck quickly on both his forehand and backhand. He is extremely aggressive, using his body on the forecheck and creating havoc in front of the net. Berard is always moving his feet and in the middle of the action. He can drive opponents nuts and draw penalties.
Berard brings his non-stop motor and aggressive style in all three zones. He applies backpressure against the rush and is willing to battle on the boards against the cycle game. His lack of size and strength can be a limiting factor at times though, especially when trying to contain bigger opponents. Berard uses a quick stick to knock the puck away from opponents. He reads the play well and puts himself in good positions to cut down scoring chances.
Projection and Comparison
Berard could become a top-six forward if his development continues in the right way. He has dynamic skill but the issue is his size. He is not just small in stature, he also needs to add muscle to his frame. Playing for Providence, with the lighter NCAA schedule, he will get the opportunity to spend time in the weight room and make the gains that he needs. It is hoped that when he will keep his speed and dynamic skill even after he puts on that muscle Berard’s game is reminiscent of Brad Marchand but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill or potential.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Brett Berard that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Brett Berard Main Photo:
Embed from Getty ImagesPLYMOUTH, MI – DECEMBER 11: Brett Berard #52 of the U.S. Nationals follows the play against the Slovakia Nationals during game two of day one of the 2018 Under-17 Four Nations Tournament game at USA Hockey Arena on December 11, 2018, in Plymouth, Michigan. Team USA defeated Slovakia 7-2. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)