When thinking of one word to describe the Philadelphia Flyers current pool of prospects, deep comes to the forefront of the mind. General Manager, Ron Hextall, has done a magnificent job acquiring draft picks and selecting young men with a great deal of promise and potential. However, when most of us are asked to rattle off names of the prospects in the farm system, our responses include only a few names. The likes of Carter Hart and Morgan Frost rule the Flyers prospect talks but there are others out there that deserve attention and recognition. One of those gentlemen is Brendan Warren of the University of Michigan.
Warren, in his fourth year with the Wolverines, is a former third-round draft pick of the Arizona Coyotes. However, the Flyers acquired his rights in the trade that sent Nick Cousins to Arizona in June of 2017. A native of the Detroit area, Warren continues to develop his game at UM, hoping one day to accomplish his ultimate goal of playing in the National Hockey League.
Awareness of skills that one needs to continue to work on is only one part of development. A player needs to know his own areas of strength and the style of play he excels at. Warren knows himself as a player very well.
“I think my biggest strength is my skating and my ability to play a fast, two-way, physical game. I take pride in being hard to play against and being one of the hardest workers on and off the ice.”
With the college hockey season shorter than most others, a lot of development takes place during the offseason. Warren understands this aspect and takes his training very seriously, working hard to improve both his weaknesses and strengths.
“I train at Michigan during the offseason along with many of my teammates. I find it very beneficial to stay on campus and work with our strength coach, Joe Maher, in our state-of-the-art facilities, along with being around hardworking teammates. We create an environment where we push each other to get better and help each other as well as compete with each other. On the ice, I also like to work on many parts of my game including shooting, skating, puck protection, and control. I think it is important to work on both strengths and weaknesses.”
In talking with Warren, player characteristics came out that someone could not see by just watching him on the ice. He has a team-first mentality, understanding that his individual successes only mean so much if the Wolverines do not produce victories. His goal for this hockey season echoes that mentality.
“Last year our team made it to the Frozen Four and lost with 5 seconds left in the semi-final game. This year my main goal is to help my team get back to the Frozen Four and finish with a National Championship this time.”
Winning a National Championship would truly be a dream come true for Warren and his teammates, and the 21-year-old feels that his squad can get it done.
“The season is going well so far. We have had some small bumps in the road but it is still early and we’re trying to get better every week and every game. We have a lot of faith in the team that we have at Michigan and we’re excited for the journey as we continue this season.”
Of course, like any other player, Warren has individual goals as well.
“On an individual level, I want to continue to take steps in improving my game in hopes of playing in the NHL soon.”
Playing NCAA, Warren is a part of a growing trend. More and more prospects are choosing to go the college route which has really helped grow the game at that level.
“Playing in the NCAA is great. Every game is a hard fought battle with many bigger, stronger, older guys to play against. Games are fast-paced and physical, and the margin for error is very small which definitely helps prepare me for hockey at the professional level.”
As a whole, hockey players are some of the most humble athletes in professional sports. They put their team before themselves and understand that they would not be where they are today without a support system. For Warren, that support and influence came from his father.
“My Dad has been the biggest influence in my hockey career and has taught me a lot about the game, as well as instilling a hard work ethic in me from a young age that I will always take pride in. He coached me for many years growing up and continues to be one of my biggest supporters.”
Surely there were some professional players out there that provided some inspiration as well. Growing up in the Detroit area, that inspiration came from watching the Red Wings.
“Being from the Detroit area there were many great players on the Red Wings that I idolized during their glory years. Guys like Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk were so fun to watch and even before them when I was really young it was fun watching Steve Yzerman and Brendan Shanahan.”
Funny enough, a former Red Wing did not get mentioned when Warren was asked who would be a player from any generation he’d like to face off against.
“I think it would be fun to play against Wayne Gretzky and see how his skill and hockey IQ stacks up against players from today who have a lot of skill and great skating ability.”
As mentioned, the Flyers prospect pool is very deep. The farm system has never been as rich with talent as it is right now. As a result, some of these promising prospects get glanced over by the everyday hockey fan. Brendan Warren is not a player you should be glancing over, however. He has all the tools and the right mindset to be a quality NHL player.
“Flyers fans can expect a very hardworking, fast, physical, two-way player that isn’t afraid to go to the dirty areas. I like to use speed to and physicality to create turnovers and offense as well as play hard defense and block shots and keep the puck out of my net. I don’t know how long it will take for me to get there but I look forward to playing in front of Flyers fans one day.”
Photo by Tom Sorensen for UShockeyNDTP.com
John Gove covers prospects within the Philadelphia Flyers farm system for Philly Sports Network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnPGove.