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Blackhawks’ No. 17 pick in 2020 NHL Draft: Making case for Brendan Brisson

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The Chicago Steel center is a dynamic playmaker that was the USHL Rookie of the Year.

Brisson in USHL action with the Chicago Steel
Chicago Steel

The Second City Hockey staff will profile 10 players leading up to the 2020 NHL Draft, which will start Oct. 6, the Blackhawks could have the opportunity to select at No. 17 overall.

There’s a whole lot of hockey in the life story of 2020 draft prospect Brendan Brisson.

First, he’s the son of NHL agent Pat Brisson, whose clients include Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. After playing hockey in California in his early teenage years, the younger Brisson moved on to Shattuck St. Mary’s, a Minnesota prep school famous for churning out hockey players like Toews, Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon.

His hockey future then took him to the USHL with the Chicago Steel, where he scored 24 goals with 35 assists, making him the league’s No. 2 scorer with 59 points in 45 games and the USHL Rookie of the Year. It was a historic season for Brisson, whose 1.31 points per game were the third-most among USHL rookies in the past 15 seasons with at least 20 games, according to Mike Morreale of NHL.com. Only Jack Hughes (2.00 in 2017-18 with USA Hockey National Team Development Program) and Jaden Schwartz (1.38 in 2009-10 with Tri-City) were better.

It’s on the offensive side of the ice where the now Michigan freshman has garnered the most attention, especially on the power play, where multiple scouts raved about his lethal one-timer from the right faceoff circle as a left-handed shot. He’s a strong skater, but it’s his vision and creativity combined with the hands to make plays happen that propelled him into first-round consideration.

“We got to see Brendan quite a bit in Chicago, and then he was playing up at Shattuck. Really smart player, likes to possess the puck, real good playmaker,” Blackhawks vice president of amateur scouting Mark Kelley said on the Blackhawks Talk podcast.

Brisson would be the first player to play his draft year with the Steel and be selected by the Blackhawks since defenseman Dennis Gilbert was taken in the third round in 2015.

Organizational fit

Kirby Dach appears to be the Blackhawks’ No. 1 center of the future, while Toews could drop down to No. 3 as his age starts creeping away from 30 and closes in on 40. That leaves a spot at No. 2 center available, with Dylan Strome’s uncertain status as a restricted free agent. Brisson’s skills suggest he could be that No. 2 center while also adding some punch to a Blackhawks power play that has been lackluster in recent memory.

Basics

Position: Center

Age: 18 (Oct. 22, 2001)

Hometown: Manhattan Beach, California

Height: 6 foot

Weight: 185 pounds

Shoots: Left

Team: Chicago Steel (USHL)/Michigan (NCAA)

Draft rankings

NHL Central Scouting (NHL): No. 20 North American skater

Elite Prospects: No. 14

Scott Wheeler (The Athletic): No. 35

Corey Pronman (The Athletic): No. 15

Cam Robinson (Dobber Prospects): No. 17

Craig Button (TSN): No. 22