Earlier in the week in my Prospect Updates, I wrote about Frederic Brunet being a finalist for the Emile Bouchard Trophy as the Defenceman of the Year in the QMJHL, and I was swamped with questions asking about NHL player comparables.
Well, I don’t do player comps for a few reasons.
It’s not fair to you to give you a comp when a player has a greater chance of ending up being the furthest thing from that. The fact remains that the majority of players picked where Brunet was selected never play a single NHL game. I could give a comp on a player that has had the same success at this level, but then never played an NHL game and you’d be asking “who?”
Since 1972, 50 players were selected 132nd overall – including Brunet. Five were goaltenders, 19 were defencemen. Of the 44 skaters selected, only 8 went on to play 100 or more NHL games and just three of them, Ron Wilson (1975) 177 games; Kyle Quincy (2003) 586 games; and Tim Heed (2010) 105 games – were defencemen. Just 9 more played in 1-99 games. The remaining 27 didn’t appear in any NHL games.
While I won’t give you an NHL comparable – that’s unfair right? – I will look at players that have played at this level and have some similarities. Those similarities may be everything from size, production, draft position and league.
Let me start off with a player everyone in hockey knows. For now, I will call him Larry.
Brunet has an August 21 birthdate; Larry has a September 9 birth date so both are considered late birthdates. Both players were passed over in their first year of draft eligibility. Brunet played in the QMJHL and scored 1 goal and 8 assists in 33 games. Larry played prep school hockey and had 14 goals and 48 assists in 37 games.
During their second year of eligibility, Brunet played in the QMJHL and scored 12 goals and 34 assists. Larry was back playing prep school hockey and scored 14 goals and 40 assists.
Brunet as you know was selected 132nd overall. Larry was once selected 105th overall. Brunet is 6’2” and 185 pounds, Larry was 6’1” and 192 pounds.
Both Brunet and Larry played their draft-plus-one year in the QMJHL. Brunet finished the year with 16 goals and 57 assists and was a finalist for defenceman of the year. Larry finished his draft-plus-one year with 25 goals and 59 assists and won the defenceman of the year award. And yes, I still believe had Brunet played the entire season for Victoriaville Tigres, he would have won defenceman of the year.
In the end, this is the path Brunet had chosen for himself. Only time will tell if it pays off. Unfortunately for Larry, his intention was to play NCAA hockey but he was denied admittance because he struggled through high school academically.
Larry went on to play a season and a half in the AHL while Brunet has played 1 game. Larry had a long and successful NHL career; Brunet doesn’t have an NHL contract yet.
Let’s look at another shall we? I’ll call him Curly for now.
Curly was also passed over in his first year of draft eligibility. He was selected in his second year after scoring 13 goals and 28 assists in the QMJHL. (Brunet had 12 goals, 34 assists). Curly was selected 13 spots after Brunet in his draft year.
In his draft-plus-one year, Curly had just 7 goals and 32 assists compared to Brunet’s 16 goals and 57 assists. Curly spent the next three years bouncing around the AHL and ECHL before heading overseas to Europe where he has played since. He was drafted in 2010. Curly was 6’2” and 207 pounds.
One final one. I’ll call him Moe. Moe was drafted in the 148th spot in 2006. The difference between Brunet and Moe is Brunet was selected in his second year of eligibility, Moe in his first. But the year they were drafted, Moe’s 14 goals and 27 assists were pretty comparable to Brunet’s. Moe never played another game in the QMJHL and split his draft-plus-one year between the AHL and ECHL. He would spend the next 4 seasons in the AHL before getting an 18-game stint in the NHL. He would spend the next 10 years in Italy and Austria. Moe was 6’2” and 200 pounds.
The point here is that while I provided the fact that the vast majority of times you do not find success, there are a few feel good stories. I tend to follow the player and provide a fair and honest opinion about what he is doing, what his strengths and weaknesses are and what he needs to improve on to make the next level. I find it difficult to do that and compare their style to a proven NHL player. Because every player from the AHL down has something they need to improve.
At different points since his first draft year, you could make the comparison to either Larry, Curly or Moe. Things change, that’s how development works or doesn’t work. Let’s let that play out.
Oh, and who are Larry, Curly and Moe? Larry is Keith Yandle, Curly is Adam Polasek and Moe is Olivier Magnan.
EDIT: I spoke to Craig Eagles after writing this. If you don’t know Craig, he is my go-to guy everything QMJHL related. And he’s a Bruins fan. You can follow Craig on Twitter. So, I wanted to get Craig’s thoughts here.
“I don’t think Frederic has the same offensive instincts that Yandle has. Frederic is a very similar player to that of Nicolas Beaudin who is with Laval (Rocket, AHL) right now, and was drafted by Blackhawks in the 1st round a few years ago (27th overall, 2018).” Craig went on to say, “I think Frederic has more grit and bite to his game, I definitely think that the B’s will sign him.”
Craig went on to talk about next season. “Victoriaville is in a great spot. They added on trade deadline without mortgaging the future and they will challenge for a championship next season. Brunet could return next season as an overager, they have the spot, and he could dominate, develop his game and challenge for a championship.” Craig went on to reiterate his belief that the Bruins will sign Brunet.
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