The NHL Draft is a long and laborious weekend for teams. On top of all the moving and shaking, that takes place that Friday and Saturday, months of preparation and research are necessary. In the first round, franchises are always hopeful to snag a future star. Maybe they will even land one in round two. However, as the draft moves along, it becomes more difficult to project a prospects ceiling. General Managers and scouts hope their due diligence pays off and they can capture some hidden gems in the late rounds. Still, the chance of obtaining a player that never pans out at the professional level. In Minnesota native, Bryce Brodzinski, the Philadelphia Flyers hope they got a steal in the seventh round.
Background Info on Bryce Brodzinski
Brodzinski is a true product of the Minnesota high school hockey culture. Though some high school programs deserve a “whatever” face, that is not the case in the great state of Minnesota. It is treated with same level of importance and respect that Texas treats high school football.
The right-winger played his high school hockey for the Blaine High School Bengals. As to be expected, every year of Brodzinski’s tenure at Blaine High saw improvements. His first season, he posted 40 points in 25 games. His second season, 53 points in the same number of contests. Then, last season, Brodzinski absolutely lit Minnesota High School hockey on fire. Serving as Blaine High’s captain, he recorded 32 and 44 assists in two fewer contests. That’s 76 points in 23 games for those of you keeping track. Say what you want about the level of competition, scoring that much in so few games is challenging for anyone. For his amazing accomplishments, Brodzinski was awarded both USHS All-USA Hockey Player of the Year and Minnesota’s Mr. Hockey, awarded to the state’s High School Player of the Year.
On top of playing for Blaine High, Brodzinski also spent some time in the USHL last season. He played 19 games for the Omaha Lancers, scoring seven goals and adding 10 assists.
Brodzinski will remain in his home state next season, lacing his skates for the University of Minnesota.
Areas of Strength
It probably does not come as much of a secret but Brodzinski’s biggest strength is his offensive production. He’s a big-time goal-scorer with a good shot that isn’t afraid to go to the net and battle for positioning. Additionally, he has a solid one-timer that become more consistently successful over time.
Brodzinski is not a flashy forward by any means. He’s not one to show off with a complicated deke or stick move, however, he can still beat defenders when he is right up on them. When describing Brodzinski’s style of play, some scouts like to use the words “deliberate and straightforward”.
Areas of Weakness
Brodzinski’s biggest weakness is his skating. He’s far from a smooth skater and can be pretty stiff in his movement. Of course, this also effects his speed on the ice, which is becoming more and more of a necessity in today’s NHL. However, there is a bright side. Brodzinski’s skating has seen improvements since he joined the USHL. He’s still behind the eight-ball a bit and will just need extra time and patience in this area.
Currently, Brodzinski’s hockey sense is considered just average. His passing game still needs a lot of work as he is prone to committing too many turnovers.
When teams enter the seventh-round of the draft, they are not banking on obtaining an effective NHL player. However, there have been some real gems found in round seven, including Henrik Lundqvist, Henrik Zetterberg, and Joe Pavelski.
I’m not saying Bryce Brodzinski is going to achieve the accolades of those mentioned above. He’s still a very raw player with a few aspects of his game that need a lot of work. Still, with the right coaching and guidance, Brodzinski may find his NHL dream as a realistic possibility one day. Who knows? Maybe in four or five years we will look back at this pick and say “man what a steal he turned out to be.”
Mandatory Credit: Rick Olson
John Gove covers prospects within the Philadelphia Flyers farm system for Philly Sports Network. Follow him on Twitter at @JohnPGove.