This weekend, one of several NHL prospect tournaments began in Traverse City, Michigan. Among the players that the Wild have at this tournament is Brady Brassart, who the Wild signed to an entry-level free agent contract last March. Brassart, of the Calgary Hitmen, made his professional debut with the Iowa Wild last spring, playing nine games at the end of the season.
Brassart is a right shot center, which is the position that he should play in Iowa this season. With Calgary, he was a very successful face-off man, who took a lot of the important end game draws and defensive zone draws. Hopefully he can carry these skills to his play in the professional ranks. During Calgary's playoff series versus Kootenay, his coach frequently picked him to face-off against first round draft pick Sam Reinhart, and on many occasions, Brassart and his team came out with the puck. He also has leadership abilities, as he was an alternate captain for the Hitmen.
In this clip, Brassart (number 14 in the black striped sweater) receives a pass as he skates down the center of the ice. As the video continues (skip to the 3:49 mark), Brassart wins a face-off, and scores another goal.
Last season, Brassart often played with Jake Virtanen, who was drafted by the Canucks in the first round of last year's draft, and tallied more points than his highly touted, younger teammate. Brassart was particularly skilled at receiving passes and getting into good spots on the ice to receive passes, so he should be adaptable enough to play with more skilled players if the need should arise.
Brassart does have some defensive zone struggles. He can get caught following the puck instead of paying attention to the whole play as it develops. He's good at draws which is important for a defensive center, but he's not as good at watching the play develop and getting to the most dangerous player before he becomes dangerous. These types of mistakes are easy for young players to make, and it's a sort of error that is more mental than physical.
Another aspect of Brassart's game that he will need to work on is skating speed. He looks strong on the ice but also a bit slow. He should spend the 2014-15 season in Iowa working on consistency in both ends of the ice. In his few games last season, it was clear that it would take him a little time to adjust. He only scored one goal, which is much lower scoring rate than the 1.21 points per game that he scored his last season in junior hockey.
It's natural that it would take him some time to adjust to the higher level and faster game in the pros. He may end up playing in the minor leagues for his career or he could end up making the transition to the NHL. He is a player whose skills show some signs of promise, and he was a good signing by Check Fletcher and crew.