When the Boston Bruins made their 5th round selection, 132nd overall at the 2022 National Hockey League Entry Draft in Montreal and selected Frederic Brunet, some fans took to social media with an “oh great, another overager” response.
As fans, sometimes we never learn. We quickly forgot Mason Lohrei and although there were three rounds separating where they were selected, some of the same comments were being made. Sometimes, and this is true more of defencemen, it takes a little longer to identify a player.
When it comes to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Craig Eagles is my go-to guy when I want to know if my eyes are deceiving me, or I am seeing what I think I am seeing. So, I did a question and answer with Craig who was kind enough to take some time out of his weekend scouting duties to give an unbiased opinion.
dom.hockey: Craig, I want to start with the most difficult question first. Brunet is known as an offensive defenceman and sometimes has a reputation for being “inadequate” in his own zone. How do you respond to that and is it an unfair statement?
Craig: Here’s my scouting report on him from his draft year.
Frederic Brunet is a fantastic skater; some would say he’s a natural when it comes to that department. The Rimouski Oceanic rookie defender is a smooth transitional puck mover that possesses great puck skills and first pass. The 17-year-old is extremely composed and calm with the puck in all three zones. He has ice in his veins when it comes to handling the puck and making plays. All signs point to Brunet being a solid two and half zone defender at the next level. The 6’2 and 176-pound defender is extremely elusive in transition, great instincts for the game and a great stick defensively. The Oceanic 4th rounder (65th overall in 2019) plays a similar game to that of former Rouyn-Noranda Huskie standout and current Boston Bruin Jeremy Lauzon. Brunet has a solid release from the point position. He will have to get stronger to ensure he wins puck battles at the next level, but he has all the makings of a solid pro.
dom.hockey: I think his greatest offensive abilities shine through on the powerplay. What makes him such a threat with the extra man and even in 5vs5 play?
Craig: I think it’s his instincts for the game and the position and being self-aware and playing to his identity that makes him pretty unique and a solid prospect, it’s his ability how to process and execute with and without the puck that makes him so creative in all situations. His ability to read and react under pressure and make plays look easy at different variations of speed is no question his strongest attribute.
dom.hockey: If I said “Brunet is one of the best defencemen in the QMJHL at escaping the forecheck under pressure” would that be a fair statement and why?
Craig: See above.
dom.hockey: Tell us about his skating if you can. And I’m sure fans are going to want to know: he is 6’2” and really needs to add some bulk. Is that going to affect his skating when he adds to that frame?
Craig: That’s a great question, I don’t think he will lose any mobility or agility if he adds some muscle. I think it’s all about working on his first step or explosiveness, I think when he gets “man strong” at 21 o 22 he will be on the winning side of most puck battles at the pro level.
dom.hockey: After putting up 1 goal and 8 assists in 33 games in his first draft season – the 2020-21 COVID season, the consensus was at that time that there was plenty more to come from Brunet and he was only just scratching the surface. Why do you think he was passed over in 2021?
Craig: Another great question, I think viewings and quality of viewings were difficult that season. I think you saw a player just finding his stride and finding his place within the league. Sometimes smart cerebral players take a little more time to develop, grow and find their inner confidence. Some might have or thought his calm demeanor and approach to the game and position as a lack of urgency, “give a shit” factor or bit to his game. Some scouts don’t always appreciate, observe or assess the small subtitles of a player, I think Frederic Brunet is a perfect example of that, every player develops and grows differently, we can never lose sight of that.
dom.hockey: I don’t like doing player comparisons myself so it’s unfair of me to ask you for one. If I don’t, some fans are going to be disappointed. Is there a current or former player that you would feel comfortable comparing Brunet too and who would that be?
Craig: Like I said in my scouting report from a few years back now, I think we are seeing Brunet’s “quiet talent or quiet skill” shine bright, which is fantastic to see. Obviously, Brunet’s puck skills and ability to transitions pucks are better than Lauzon’s. He isn’t as nasty as Lauzon, but he can shut things down when needed. As we all know Brunet has tons of potential, it’s just going to take time and a solid runway with the Bs for him to continue to grow into the player he’s capable of being.
Thanks to Craig for taking some time out from a scouting weekend to share his thoughts. You can follow Craig on Twitter here and follow his work here.
Kind of off topic but, it’s unfortunate that fans of the NCAA don’t get to experience the trade frenzy of the USHL, CHL and some European Leagues. Now, trade deadline is still a long way off in the OHL, but a trade happened last week involving the teams of two prospects. Matthew Poitras team the Guelph Storm traded Sasha Pastujov to the Sarnia Sting which is of course where Ryan Mast plays. The Sting should be loading up and they did here, but so should the Storm as they are much better than they’ve shown so this is a weird trade. At least that’s what it says on paper. I have to think that with the Oshawa Generals outside the playoff picture looking in, Brett Harrison will be on the move.
Here’s a look at the Providence Bruins leaders:
Coming up this week:
|PLAYER||MON 21||TUE 22||WED 23||THU 24||FRI 25||SAT 26||SUN 27|
|CEHLARIK||*at R B||Vs RJL||At ZSC|
|BYCHKOV||Vs SOC||Vs SKA||At SIB|
|MANTYKIVI||At PEL||At SAI|
|LOCMELIS||At TIM||At TIM||At MOD|
|MYRENBERG||Vs AIK||at MOD||At BIK|
|JELLVIK/GASSEAU/KUNTAR||Vs N D|
|LOHREI||At LIU||At LIU|
|LANGENBRUNNER||At MIC||At MIC|
|SCHMALTZ||Vs BMJ||Vs BMJ|
|DURAN/SVEDEBACK||Vs STL||Vs BRN|
|POITRAS||Vs O S||At O S|
|HARRISON||Vs PBO||Vs LDN|
|MAST||Vs MIS||Vs SAG||At FNT|
|EDWARD||At KIT||At OSH|
|BRUNET||At SHA||Vs A B|
|DYCK||Vs EDM||Vs EDM|
*Champions Hockey League game. ** Exhibition game versus Under-18 squad.
AROUND THE GLOBE
There is no one as hot as Matthew Poitras. Currently riding a 6-game point streak with 3 goals and 10 assists, Poitras and his Storm won back-to-back last week with Poitras netting 2 goals and 6 assists in those 2 games. Will no doubt be named OHL Player of the Week today.
Dans Locmelis has a 3-game point streak on 2 goals and 3 assists going. He has points in 11 of his last 12 games with 6 goals and 9 assists.
Matias Mantykivi is warming up with a modest 3-game point streak on 1 goal and 2 helpers. He helped Ilves in winning those 3 games as they look to chase down top spot in the Finnish Liiga. Enjoy his defensive game immensely, but he needs to pick up the offence and remain consistent.
Brett Harrison has recorded 3 goals and 3 assists in his last 5 games and 6 goals, 4 assists in his last 10 games. His Oshawa Generals however have lost 9 in a row with an 0-7-1-1 record.
Cole Spicer was on a 7-game pointless streak until he scored in back-to-back games last week, his first two NCAA career games.
Philip Svedeback missed last week’s action with a non-covid related illness.
Riley Duran is currently on a 4-game pointless streak and sat out Saturday’s game with a suspension for a hit to the head.
Ryan Mast returned from a non-covid related illness and minor injury from practice and skated to a 4-game pointless streak. That ended on Sunday with an assist, his 9th of the season.
Frederic Brunet is on a 3-game pointless streak – his longest such streak since March of 2022. The good news is that it’s only his third 3-game pointless streak since the start of last season.
Roman Bychkov is on a 12-game pointless streak. I have to say, last Monday was the best I’ve seen him in the KHL. The problem is we never see it enough.