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.