By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12
Reports surfaced yesterday about several teams around the National Hockey League that are interested in Justin Brazeau, an undrafted free agent currently with the North Bay Battalion of the Ontario Hockey League. Among those teams? The Boston Bruins and general manager Don Sweeney. TSN’s Darren Dreger had the scoop during TSN’s “Insider Trading” in addition to a tweet from Bruins Network earlier yesterday:
Dreger mentioned that the other teams aside from Boston included: the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Vegas Golden Knights, the St. Louis Blues, and the Nashville Predators. It is no wonder so many teams are interested; North Bay’s captain has been absolutely dominant, to say the least, this season as a fourth-year OHLer with 61 goals and 52 assists for 113 points through 68 regular season games played this season (yes, you read that right).
His 61 goals led the entire OHL in the regular season while his 113 points were the second-most among OHL skaters. Additionally, Brazeau registered 314 shots on goal, third-highest in the league.
Brazeau has seemingly been building towards a career season like this throughout his time in the OHL, too. In his rookie season as an 18-year-old, Brazeau had totals of 6/7/13 through 65 games played. In 67 games during his sophomore campaign, the then 19-year-old bested his previous marks with totals of 22/15/37. Just last season at age 20, the New Liskeard, Ontario native posted point per game numbers with 39/36/75 in 68 games played. For those of you keeping score at home, Brazeau has 128 goals and 238 points in 268 OHL contests on his career.
Production aside, take a look at the size of this kid: 6-foot-6, 225 pounds. Safe to say that Brazeau, 21, is an absolute moose on the ice. The power forward plays a heavy game and has obviously produced a ton in the last two seasons. With so many teams worried about having to deal with players like Tom Wilson, it is quite obvious why there is a good amount of interest in the right-shot right-winger.
The one knock on Brazeau’s game seems to be that he is not necessarily the strongest skater. However, the forward has been able to use his size to his advantage wonderfully between his reach and physicality.
While the number of teams reportedly interested in Brazeau certainly is not shocking by any stretch of the imagination, the Bruins’ competition in the sweepstakes could be even stiffer. This is due to the fact that Brazeau had participated in the Blue Jackets’ development camp back in 2017, as well as the San Jose Sharks’ 2018 development camp; although, the Sharks were not among the teams mentioned by Dreger.
Dreger also noted that in a perfect world, these teams would ink Brazeau to an AHL deal; however, considering his production and the positions these teams are in (all headed to the playoffs in all probability), the winger is looking for an entry-level NHL contract.
“There will be five to seven teams at Thursday’s game when they [North Bay] open the playoffs against Niagra,” Dreger said. As fans may know, one of the Bruins’ prized prospects, Jack Studnicka, who has also had himself a fine season in the OHL, plays for the Niagra Ice Dogs, North Bay’s first-round opponent. So the matchup between Studnicka and Brazeau will certainly be an interesting one to watch.