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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski - USA TODAY Sports

CanucksArmy’s 2018 Midterm Prospect Rankings: #14 Guillaume Brisebois

The CanucksArmy Mid-Term Prospect Profile series is back for another installment, with Utica Comets defenceman and 2015 third-round draft pick Guillaume Brisebois checking in as the 14th best prospect in the Canucks’ system.

That ranking doesn’t necessarily reflect the belief that the Canucks organization seems to put forward in the 6-foot-3 defenceman enthusiastically at each press conference. Rare is the presser that’s passed this season without Canucks general manager Jim Benning perking up at the prospect of talking up Brisebois.

As Brisebois’ spot in the Canucks’ prospect hierarchy can attest, we don’t share their keenness for his NHL prospects.

All the same, Brisebois has transitioned well from a successful four-year QMJHL career to the professional ranks with the Comets, and while he may not be a bluechip prospect, he’s one with legitimate NHL aspirations. That the Canucks could find such a player with the 66th overall pick earned in the Eddie Lack-to-Carolina Hurricanes trade is a crafty bit of scouting on Benning and co.’s part.

With that, let’s look at what type of player the Canucks might have in Brisebois, and what he projects as at the NHL level, should he make the jump.

First, a quick review of how these rankings were formed. Seven lists, including six from Canucks Army writers (myself, Jeremy Davis, Ryan Biech, Jackson McDonald, Vanessa Jang, and Janik Beichler) plus the reader rankings, were consolidated into one list. The parameters are that each prospect must:

  • be under the age of 25;
  • have played fewer than 25 NHL games; and
  • be under contract to the Vancouver Canucks or on their reserve (e.g. as an unsigned draft choice).

Now let’s dig deep into the next member of our list.

#14: Guillaume Brisebois

Preseason Ranking: 16

Age: 20 – Position: Defenceman – Shoots: Left – Height: – 6’3″ – Weight: 190 lbs

Where the Canucks and CanucksArmy likely diverge on the matter of Brisebois’ future is on the question of what impact he’ll have at the NHL level.

The Canucks haven’t said in plain language what they expect of Brisebois, but it’s hard to imagine that they don’t see him as a top-four defenceman at the peak of his career given their reverence for his play thus far.

At CanucksArmy, we all tend to agree that Brisebois, should he make it to the NHL, probably checks out as a third-pair defenceman.

Only time will tell which of us is right.

To Brisebois’ credit, his first season with the Comets has mainly been encouraging.

Something our resident Utica Comets expert Cory Hergott let me in on was the fact that Brisebois has spent most of the season playing on his off-side on a pairing with left-shot defenceman Philip Holm. As the season’s gone on, Comets head coach Trent Cull has started to integrate Brisebois into his plans on special teams too first with the penalty kill and in recent games the power play.

Brisebois has never been an offensive driver, even going back to his time in the QMJHL, so it wouldn’t serve us well to weight that part of the evaluation too heavily. All the same, one would hope to see just a little bit more from Brisebois given all the ice-time apportioned him. After a slow start, Brisebois has picked up his pace a bit, but even so, his 15 points in 61 games (three goals and twelve assists) doesn’t exactly jump off the page.

When we look at the historical precedent set by players that share a similar statistical and stature based profile with Brisebois, the pGPS (prospect graduation probabilities system) draft metric gives him about a 33% chance of developing into a full-time NHL’er. Interestingly, one of his closest comparable players is Oscar Klefbom — that’s neat!

These sins would be all the easier to forgive if Brisebois’ on-ice goal numbers were in the black, but they’re not. Among regular Comets skaters, Brisebois’ 44.9% ratio of goal control ranks 16th. His impact on his linemates ability to control the share of goals at 5-on-5 is mixed, too.

In fairness to Brisebois, his 5-on-5 contributions to goals for and against, like his offensive outputs, are trending in the right direction. Part of that, one would think, has to do with Holm’s departure allowing Brisebois to get back to his natural left-side position alongside Jamie Scifers. It’s that, or he’s just turning a corner. Perhaps it’s both?

Regardless, I don’t want to be too hard on Brisebois given the circumstances. There’s been a tonne of turnover in Utica due to injuries and call-ups, and through it all, he’s played primarily on his off-side as a rookie. And mostly, there are signs of progress.

Brisebois can skate well, and not just well for his size. By all accounts, he’s a battler, with most critiques arising from people’s desire to see more of it on a more consistent basis given his imposing 6-foot-3 frame. There are NHL tools present in Brisebois’ game.

Next season, the hope is that he’ll take another step forward, and with a little luck and progress, perhaps get a sniff of the NHL. Even a cup of coffee would suffice. There might not be a tonne of upside at hand, but that’s the case with almost every third-round pick. The goal at that point is to find an NHL’er, and Brisebois might just be that.

  • Sandpaper

    I like the kid and see him as a #4 defenseman.
    I dodnt expect you guys to rank him high, as you are way to predictable.
    If Subban was still here he would be your top ranked defenseman.

  • argoleas

    If Brisebois turns into a Klefbom, and would be an incredible success, and I suppose exactly what Benning sees.

    But yeah, if a Brisebois is able to become a 4th Dman, that would be very useful. But does not change the fact that Canucks have only 1 top-3 prospect (and he’s a prospect, not a surefire bet just yet). So they need 2 more, something they must address in this and the next draft.

  • crofton

    “The Canucks haven’t said in plain language what they expect of Brisebois, but it’s hard to imagine that they don’t see him as a top-four defenceman at the peak of his career given their reverence for his play thus far.
    At CanucksArmy, we all tend to agree that Brisebois, should he make it to the NHL, probably checks out as a third-pair defenceman. Only time will tell which of us is right.” Yes if you put words into someone else’s mouth

  • Fred-65

    It’s certainly difficult to judge a player when you basically must depend on others comments. But the odd slip of the tongue by none other than JB indicates he doesn’t play a hard game ie he doesn’t use his size to advantage and from what I’ve seen in the past players don’t change their game philosophy very often. If he not playing an aggressive game now of through Junior it’s doubtful he’ll play that way later in his career, you just cant invent aggressiveness. The other comments about his skating, stick skills and IQ all seem to to conflate with too many scouts to be untrue. So basically from what I’ve read he has skill but not very aggressive and likely a 5-6 D’man

    • Defenceman Factory

      do any of those scouts that attest to his skating, skills and smarts project him as a 5-6 Dman?

      I suppose there is a chance the kid can’t get his head together and turns out to be a bust and won’t make the NHL. If he does get it together he will be a top 4. A projection of a 5-6 Dman seems the least likely outcome for this kid.

      • Puck Viking

        Its him every day. I dont get the question? The team has plenty of good prospects but he most certainly is not one of them. With all those 2nds tossed away on linden vey and other riff raff we have blown it on defense, but yo like magic bean lover down below will suggest every thing is A OK when it comes defense on the canucks.

    • Defenceman Factory

      Do you have any rationale upon which you have based that profound statement? The author seems to think there is a reasonable chance Brisebois will succeed. I don’t know if Brisebois will be an NHL player but you seem pretty sure of yourself. Tell us why.

      • Puck Viking

        Because he did nothing in the Q. You tell me why he will do anything. You cant you are just another one of the loser canucks fans who think this team will win a cup with magic beans and can do no wrong..

  • Ser Jaime Lannister

    Even if he pans out as a 5/6 its better than nothing. Everyone noes this D core needs a shake up, IMO MDZ/Pouliot/Hutton/Biega all need to go and i hope Brisbois can beat out one of these guys next year!

  • truthseeker

    Benning is a General Manager. As in he “manages” the players on his team. He doesn’t manage canuck army expectations or the expectations of fans for that matter aside from some pandering to actual paying customers. ie the season ticket base.

    So taking anything Jim Benning or Trevor Linden say to the press seriously is just about the dumbest thing anyone could do.

    He’s managing. He’s saying things to put a positive spin on one of his players who, along with family and friends will see the comments of his general manager.

    So what do you think he’s going to say?

    “Well…we like Brisebois as a person. Great kid. He’s a decent player but we’re not expecting much from him. He’ll be lucky to even stay in the AHL let alone make the NHL for even a handful of games. So people really shouldn’t get their hopes up too much about him. I know we don’t.”

    Are those the kinds of comments you think Jim Benning should be making to the press? You know…what is probably the truth?

    He’s encouraging a kid. Trying to give and build his confidence. Trying to make the kid feel like he’s an important part of the organization even though we all know he isn’t.

    I don’t understand why this is so hard for people to get. Press quotes are meaningless. From coaches, from GM’s, from players…..meaningless. Actions matter. Not words.

    • Cageyvet

      No, they don’t understand, although I’ve posted exactly the same thing. Apparently many misguided individuals think it’s a GM’s job to map out every strategy for the media and fan base to dissect, ignoring the impact that will have on their ability to execute their plans.

      How many GM’s have given their coach a vote of confidence only to fire them 2 weeks later? Wake up, the only reason they speak publicly about their jobs is because they have to, I don’t care if they lie blatantly as long as they do so because they deem it the best way to reach their goals.

      A certain cadre of posters here expect them to trade certain players and maximize the returns, but also question the positive spin of their performance in the media……as though they owe us honesty even if it destroys the player’s market value.

      Please don’t respond by criticizing management’s handling of specific players that you don’t agree with. I’m not saying they handle them all correctly, I’m not saying they judge each player’s value or peak market value correctly, I’m just saying truthseeker is 100 per cent correct…..it’s just talk, and may be honest, may be avoidance, or may be misdirection. Why do you think there are now so many instances of “upper body” or “lower body” injuries? Because as much as the fans may want to know exactly what’s going on, it can actually hurt both the player and team in question to provide truthful and specific answers. Get over it, and accept that all of our analyses of management’s decisions are crippled by having a lack of accurate information to work with, to say nothing of our lack of experience and ability compared to those we are so quick to judge.

      Simple analogy that might hit home with a number of us. Go tell your boss the 100 per cent unvarnished truth about how you view him as a person and professional. Let’s see if that furthers your career…….sometimes you’re best served by editing the truth, let’s face it.

      • truthseeker

        I’ll be the first to admit Benning is not good with the press. Just from a natural ability perspective. He’s awkward, and seems to not know what to say and when to say it. In some ways he can be too honest like with the whole Subban thing (PK, not Jordan). He needs to learn to lie better. But “on camera” ability is just about the last thing I care about when it comes to how a GM does their job.

        And yeah…that’s exactly right…like that moron who keeps posting all of Bennings quotes as if he thinks that’s proving some point and “winning” him an argument. lol. The fact he can’t even logically reason out something so painfully obvious is a sign of some true stupidity.

        The proof is in the pudding. The deals he makes, picks he makes, trades he makes, signings, etc. Criticize those things is completely valid (still…providing it’s a logical argument…many here still can’t even manage that), but criticizing him because the results don’t match up with his f..king press quotes? lol…geezus people are f..king useless if they think that’s a valid argument.

        • liqueur des fenetres

          If your post had been about Linden, then ya, total agreement, as he’s been in front of the mic for ages and has learned the nuances of communication. But how can you on the one hand claim that Benning “seems to not know what to say and when to say it” immediately after claiming that he’s an expert in misdirection / pr through communication? You might benefit from reading a communications textbook, particularly one that addresses “tells”.

          • truthseeker

            Where did I say he was an “expert” at misdirection? How hard is it to promote a player? You think knowing what a player needs to hear makes someone and expert liar? Come on…that’s just one of the basics of his job descriptions. You might benefit from some basic reading comprehension.

            And anyway….you’re missing the point. It doesn’t matter what Benning says to the press. None of it. It doesn’t matter when he’s telling the truth. It doesn’t matter when he’s lying. It doesn’t matter when he’s telling partial truths or partial lies or both together in the same statement. It doesn’t matter if he’s good at it or if he’s terrible at it. None of it matters. It’s meaningless. He’s saying whatever he thinks will put the player, or organization in the best light. His actions are all that matters. Sometimes his actions will line up with his press quotes and sometimes they won’t. Just like some player saying “yeah we’ve got to come out in the third, play our game and I’m just going to do my best to try to help the team win” and then they come out and keep sucking. Who cares what the player says during the intermission or before the game or after the game. What they say is meaningless. It’s what they do that matters. Do people go after the player on comments boards for saying they would try hard in the third when they obviously didn’t? lol. How come we all know those statements are worthless, but then all these morons here think what Benning says actually means something?

          • liqueur des fenetres

            What Benning says to the press does matter because he represents the organization, and people in the organization without access to information are going to listen to whatever they can get, and make decisions based on it. That’s pretty normal stuff in any organization.

          • truthseeker

            So let me get this straight…..people in the organization that don’t have access to what they are actually going to do, are going to make “decisions” based on what TL and JB say to the press?

            So who are these people and what do they do? And why is it important? I’m thinking anyone in the organization who doesn’t have access to their plans isn’t going to be in the position to make any significant decisions in the first place. Are you worried that the merchandise people won’t have enough time to prepare names for the backs of jerseys or something?

            Not sure what you are talking about here. Be more specific.

          • liqueur des fenetres

            Like, you know, players? Guys on expiring deals, prospects, their agents… Remember after Coach Willie got let go, word came out that a bunch of guys on the team were really confused about the team’s direction, don’t you think that has an impact on morale?

          • truthseeker

            Yep. I do.

            After Willie got fired it came out players were confused about what he wanted. I never heard players talking about the over all direction of the building of the team.

            But I hear what your saying, and it’s something a team needs to handle properly without giving away their specific intentions (draft picks and trades) to too many people. I’m going to speculate and say I’m sure Benning and Linden have told the twins exactly what they are trying to do. You’re free to disagree with that and you maybe right.

            It’s pretty clear managements strategy has changed from the first two years, of trying to “stay competitive while adding young talent” to what is obviously now a complete rebuild.

            Honestly I don’t have a problem with that but I suppose that’s what bugs a lot of people here. At the time it was a logical option though. Not the only option of course, but was one that made a certain amount of sense.

      • TD

        They aren’t rebuilding either, they have told us over and over. They are riding the stale 2010-11 club for another run at the cup! That’s why the roster looks the same as it did when Benning took over.

        • truthseeker

          Are you being serious? How does the roster look the same? There are only 4 guys left from the 11. team.

          You can argue they aren’t doing the rebuild in the right way or the way you want it to be, but saying they haven’t changed the team? That’s just so obviously false that if you actually believe it we can’t even have a conversation. You’re in your own little world.

        • Fortitude00

          They were telling people what they wanted to hear because they were hampered by NTC’s. Every off season Benning has made tons of changes to the lineup but he could never do anything major until those contracts were gone.

    • Freud

      So when Benning says there were no picks available at the deadline, he was lying? After all, Team Lemming jumped all over this quote to push their agenda.

      More evidence the team is competing, not rebuilding.

      Actions matter? lol. Look at the actions, look at the results.

      A cap team that is the worst in the league over the last 3 seasons. Not one asset on a roster of 70M+ that could be traded at the deadline for anything of value in a rebuild. The actions that led to this simple fact are damning.

      • truthseeker

        ahhh one of the morons who believes the press quotes.

        It doesn’t matter. You or I can’t know if he was offered picks or wasn’t offered picks. You’re wasting your own energy getting your panties in a bunch about it. The return they got was the return they got. You speculating that they could have got a pick is just that….speculation. Meaningless.

        So trading for two players under 24 years old is “competing, not rebuilding”? lol. Don’t be f..king stupid.

        Yep, they have sucked for the past 3 years. No doubt about that.

        Your opinion. You have no idea if Leipsic or Motte will turn out to be decent players for us or not. This is the kind of thing that makes you a self loather. You won’t even give the trades a chance. Just judge it right off the bat and make your conclusions. Moronic thinking.

    • Fred-65

      I’m not sure you’re correct in your assertions. JB is in many ways accountable to the fans who stump up the money not only for his salary but the players too. That’s not to say he needs take heed of the fans but he certainly needs to listen and if need be placate. In addition we have all witnessed the fact that JB is actually correct maybe 50% of the time. So fans need to take his words with a pinch of salt. Brisebois is likely a long shot, the chnace of any 3rd round pick making it to the NHL is around 15% of the time. so expectations should at best be tempered and realistic. Heck some 1st round picks never make it. Take a look at the chart re Draft Value, at the 90th O/A he has a 4.6% chnace of becoming a top6/top 4 F/D

      https://www.tsn.ca/statistically-speaking-nhl-draft-pick-value-1.786131