The Minnesota high school ranks produce numerous NHL Draft picks each year, and this year is no exception.
As happens every year, a good number of top players from the state elected to stay home this year and play high school hockey rather than spend the full year in the USHL. Some names you will certainly see picked who played in high school this year include Duluth East’s Ryder Donovan, Roseau’s Aaron Huglen, and the Chaska duo of Rhett Pitlick and Mike Koster. But on the ice this year, no Minnesota high schooler was better across all competitions than Bryce Brodzinski.
Brodzinski - the youngest brother of Kings forward Jonny - is an August 2000 birthdate and was passed over in last year’s draft despite a 29-goal, 59-point season that followed a 45-point sophomore campaign. But in his second year of draft eligibility, Brodzinski made sure to leave NHL GMs no excuse to pass him over a second time. Across the regular season, section playoffs, and state tournament, Brodzinski finished with 37 goals and 97 points as Blaine made it all the way to the state semifinals.
Brodzinski’s performance was good enough to win him the coveted Mr. Hockey award as the best senior player in the state, as well as USA Today’s National High School Player of the Year Award. And if you’re still worried about the level of competition he faced, he also played before and after the high school season with the Omaha Lancers, scoring 17 points in 19 games.
NHL draft eligible players on my sheet with >20% of team goals on average per game?— Will Scouch (@Scouching) March 15, 2018
Andrei Svechnikov - 22.9%
Oliver Wahlstrom - 20.6%
Linus Karlsson - 21.5%
Bulat Shafigullin - 26.9%
Bryce Brodzinski - 35.5%
George Grannis - 29.3%
Alexander Peresunko - 29%
Brodzinski wasn’t necessarily planning to go to college directly after high school, but his play on the ice this year shows he will be ready for college hockey in 2019–20. Originally slated to follow his brothers Jonny and Easton to St. Cloud State, after coach Bob Motzko left for Minnesota, Brodzinski elected to sign a letter of intent with the Gophers, who his brother Michael had also played for, and he will be on campus next year.
As for Brodzinski’s playing style, he is best known as a playmaker with great vision who his linemates love to play with, but his goal totals at both the high school and junior levels show he can finish as well, with his high school coach attesting that he has a great shot. He already is pretty strong for his age, on and off the ice, and spending time in a college weight room can only help with that.
The big question, which cannot be answered until he steps on campus, is how does he adjust to the heightened level of competition in college? Minnesota is a young team and losing a good chunk of their scoring depth from last year, so the opportunities for Brodzinski will be there for him to capitalize on. I would expect Brodzinski to do well with the Gophers, and turn pro after his junior year.
Brodzinski could be picked as high as the third round, but more likely he’ll be selected in the fourth or fifth round, and like fellow Gopher and Mr. Hockey winner Sammy Walker, will be determined to prove to NHL teams that they made a mistake by making him wait that long.
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