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2021 NHL Draft Prospects: Sean Behrens is another blue chip prospect being penalized by size

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Sean Behrens plays a lot bigger than the tape measure would have you believe

In a season that caused most draft eligible players into playing only a handful of games, Sean Behrens is one of the few lucky ones who was able to get nearly an entire season under his belt. Playing for the USNTDP, Behrens was able to play more than 70 games and show scouts the kind of growth you want from a player his age.

Behrens is a prospect that more impressive the more you go back to him. He would add a high-end prospect to whichever organization is lucky enough to add him to their depth chart.

When Luke Hughes (youngest brother of Jack and Quinn) went down with an injury, Behrens became the best defender on the US national team. He was able to excel in an expanded role and proved that he can carry the weight for his team.

He is committed to play for the University of Denver Pioneers this coming season and is expected to be one of the top freshmen in the country as he spends the next couple of seasons getting ready for the NHL.

Strengths

The first thing that stands out with Behrens is that he is really intelligent on the ice. He makes the smart plays regularly, his reads, his checks, defensively and offensively are on point and he just seems to be that one step ahead of his competition. His gap control is elite and his defensive play to get the puck away from is opponents and transition out of the defensive zone, might be the best in this draft class. Very rarely does someone beat him wide and when they do, he recovers and makes a play.

Under pressure with the puck on his where his IQ shines. When attacked, he is very quick to shake the opponent and move the puck away. When given space, he will skate in to the open areas, always looking for an exit pass.

In the offensive zone, Behrens has some high-end playmaking ability and a tremendous ability to get the puck on net from the blueline. Everything he does is highly detailed. His quick thinking ability makes most plays look like the “easy” one. His passing and pre shot motions are really close and hard to tell the difference between them, which makes it nearly impossible for opponents to know what he plans on doing with the puck.

During the U18 World Championship, he noticeably starting playing the body more to separate players from pucks. He plays bigger than his 5’10” frame would suggest. All this lends to him having the ability to play big minutes - something that became evident when he led his team in 5v5 TOI this season.

Areas of Improvement

With all the great aspects of Behrens’ game, the biggest short coming, is that he does not have the elite skating ability that you normally see from smaller defenders. Being small and an average skater is the one combo which makes scouts nervous. Especially for a defender. He does get beat on occasion in the neutral zone by players with a ton of straight-line speed. That said, he’s often smart enough to recognize the speed early and recover to get to the right position in order to take away time and space. Which is fine at the USHL level, and probably the NCAA but at the NHL level that will be a problem. He will need to work hard with the skating coach to improve that aspect of his game and get a little quicker.

The other issues in his game are ones that will likely disappear as he gets more comfortable at higher levels. He sometimes holds the puck a little too long and he needs to develop a little more creativity in his game. Those are things he can easily work on at DU.

The Numbers

Behrens put up some solid numbers in the USHL and his elite play making was reflected in his assist totals. He has a similar draft year NHLe as Avalanche stud defenders Samuel Girard and Cale Makar.

NHLe - sourced from HockeyProspecting.com

What others are saying

“A very detailed defensemen, who can play in any situation, and will be heading to Denver in the Fall. Potential is there to be a solid top 4 guy for someone” – NHL scout

“He scans regularly off the puck. He cuts opponents off at the hands, always from a low center of gravity. His motor never stops running.” – EliteProspects 2021 NHL draft guide

Potential Development

Regardless of who drafts him, Behrens will spend at least two, probably three years at DU, where he can work to improve his skating in a way necessary to compete at a high level in the NHL. If he completes two years and signs, it would be expected that he would also spend a year in the AHL.

Where will be he Drafted

The potential is there for Behrens to be an effective 2nd pair guy, and if a team believes it can improve his skating quickly, someone could make him a top 25-31 pick. It’s more likely that Behrens will be selected in the early second round but the fact that scouts were able to see his development through the year could help boost his stock.

Other scouting reports:

Zachary L’Heureux

Brett Harrison

Zach Dean