Each week I will be featuring the top three performers among first time eligible players for the 2020 NHL draft. Along with the occasional honourable mention for other noteworthy accomplishments. Here are my three stars for the period from Saturday, December 7th through Friday, December 13th.
This past week featured exceptional performances by prospects not expected to hear their names called in the first round of the 2020 NHL draft. However, these strong showings should enhance their draft rankings and serve notice to the scouts that they are players to watch.
1. Brendan Brisson
Chicago Steel center Brendan Brisson bolstered his ranking by leading Team USA to a first-place finish in the round-robin portion of the World Junior A Championship. The crafty forward leads the tournament in scoring thus far with five goals and seven assists in four games. To put that into perspective, Vasili Podkolzin and Bobby Brink shared the tournament lead last year with eight points.
In the opening game for the American squad, Brisson scored the game’s first goal early in the second period. After Canada West had taken a 2-1 lead, Brisson set up the game-tying goal to close out the period tied 2-2. Team USA prevailed with a 3-2 victory. Brisson displayed his ability to control the puck in tight spaces with his superb edge-work. Although his top-end speed is only slightly above average, his starts and agility are remarkable.
In their second game of the tournament, the Americans would jump out to a 2-0 first period lead. Brisson drew the lone assist on both of those goals. The Czech Republic stormed back and had a 4-3 lead in the third period before Brisson added his third assist of the game on the game-tying goal. Team USA managed the overtime winner. In this game, the vision and playmaking prowess that Brisson possesses were extremely evident.
Canada East was the next opponent, and Brisson took his game to yet another level. He once again would open the scoring late in the first period. Brisson would add his second goal of the game on the powerplay in the middle frame to put the Americans back on top 3-2. He would add a pair of assists later in the second period as Team USA would steamroll Canada East 7-3.
In their final game of the round-robin, the Americans pulled away from Team Russia, winning by a 7-2 count. A powerplay marker from Brisson made it 3-1 late in the second period. He added a powerplay assist seven minutes into the third before striking once again on the powerplay to put the Americans up 5-1.
Brisson demonstrated his ability to take over and dominate games throughout the event. He is the son of NHL agent Pat Brisson and is committed to the University of Michigan for the 2020-2021 season.
2. Veeti Miettinen
Miettinen began by scoring a goal and adding two assists last Saturday, as Kiekko-Espoo U20 downed Tuto U20 3-1.
A day later, he once again factored in all his team’s goals, repeating the one goal and two assist performance in a 4-3 loss to KooKoo. On Wednesday, Miettinen turned in yet another three-point effort recording three assists in a 4-2 victory over Lukko.
Those strong showings have bolted Miettinen to the top of the Nourten SM-Liiga scoring race, with 43 points in 34 games. His 43 points represent 43.9% of the 98 goals that Kiekko-Espoo have scored, while his 24 goals are 24.5% of his team’s total goals. Both are astonishing numbers. Miettinen is committed to St. Cloud State University for the 2020-2021 campaign.
3. Brett Berard
My third star of the week comes from the United States National Team Development Program. Left-winger Brett Berard used his remarkable skating ability to post seven points in his last two outings. Berard is committed to Providence College for next season and is ranked as a B-skater in the latest NHL Central Scouting players to watch list for the 2020
After being held pointless in his first game this past week, Berard exploded in a pair of games versus the Muskegon Lumberjacks. On Wednesday, a game in which the NDTP-U18 team were 6-1 winners, Berard provided the primary assist on the game’s opening goal in the second period. Later in the period, he scored to put his team up 3-0, before adding his third point of the contest with a powerplay assist in closing out the scoring.
Two days later, Berard would assist on the opening goal. The Lumberjacks then scored twice to take a 2-1 lead. Once again, Berard would be in on the scoring of the game-tying goal with a secondary assist. He notched the eventual game-winning goal and later closed the game out with his second tally of the match, a 5-2 victory.
Meanwhile, in Europe, Oskar Magnusson added four points in two contests for Malmo U20 in the SuperElit league.
Rick Warman is a Vancouver Canucks and prospects contributor for Overtime Heroics. Follow him @statman1956 on Twitter
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