The middle of the 2016 NHL Draft continues with the New Jersey Devils making their third pick of the third round. For the team's third pick of the third round, the Devils selected Brandon Gignac, a center out of Repentigny, Quebec with the 80th overall pick. He currently plays junior hockey for the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL.
My initial reaction is that hey, it's another forward prospect, and another center prospect specifically. The Devils scouting department is going full force at drafting potential scorers to replenish the farm system, and that is a good idea in my opinion. They stockpiled picks, and here is when it is paying off. They are throwing darts at the board and hoping as many stick as possible. I really hope that Brandon is one of those that stick and perform well. Central Scouting has Brandon as the #98 North American skater prospect for this draft.
Brandon has had two quality seasons in Shawinigan, but this past season has been especially good, as he produced 61 points in 67 games, 24 of those points coming as goals. The season prior, he had 40 points in 63 games, but only 9 of those points came as goals, so he was definitely more of a distributor. Shawinigan has been a quality team while Brandon has been there, this past season winning the East Division of the Q with 93 points. Here are his stats from Elite Prospects:
Furthermore, he had a heck of a playoff run for the Cataractes this year, with 7 goals and 9 assists in 20 games. Those are some real good numbers in the playoffs, closing in on a point per game. And it was not all distribution either, with 7 goals of his own. You can't teach the clutch gene, and I can't say that Brandon has it or he does not, but being able to produce in the playoffs is a huge bonus, and he did it this year.
Here is a blurb from Bill Placzek over at Draft Site:
"Not big, not strong, just super quick. Sees the on-ice situations and uses his extra gears to push back defenders and set up his wingers. On the 2nd PP, and has shown he is a nice set-up man. He has a willingness to use his head and feet in building a 200 foot game. Not big not strong but has lots of tools to build on."
So I can see positives there. Very quick skater, very good distributor. The Devils do need scoring more than distribution, but without quality passing there won't be much scoring, so I cannot really complain either. Bill mentions that Brandon has a "wispy" frame and may not get too big, but Elite Prospects has him currently at 5'11" and weighing 172 pounds. Hopefully he can put on some weight, but his height is not bad at all in my opinion.
Here is a really sweet goal he scored back in March:
In the end, my conclusion is that I am happy with the pick. The Devils may have made a little bit of a reach given his ranking from Central Scouting, but he also probably would not have made it to the Devils' picks in the fourth round given his ranking too, so they wanted him and they took him when they could. He scores points, although he is more of a distributor, but he can score goals himself as he showed this past season. His "wispy" frame could be a little disconcerting if he is injury prone at the NHL level, but he has years to develop and get stronger, so I would not be too concerned about that at this point. For now, the Devils added a point producer who played against quality competition in the Q. That is quality work for the 3rd round.
All the same, regardless of my initial thoughts. I welcome Brandon to the New Jersey Devils organization. I wish him the best of luck in his development within the organization.
Stay tuned to this page as I will update it throughout the day with more information and reaction about the player. In the meantime, please have your say about the pick in the comments. Do you think it was a good pick or not and why? What do you expect this player will become for the Devils? Of course, don't forget to vote in our quick poll on the selection. Thank you for reading.