Since the 2015 NHL Draft, the New Jersey Devils have drafted at least one goaltender every year. The trend has continued for 2022. In the fourth round at 102nd overall, which is the Devils’ own fourth rounder, they drafted Prince George goaltender Tyler Brennan.
Per Elite Prospects, Brennan is from Winnipeg, Manitoba; was born on September 27, 2003; and is listed at 6’4” and 190 pounds. He just finished his third season with Prince George of the Western Hockey League, although 2020-21 was cut short. He appeared in 39 games for the Cougars and put up an overall save percentage of 89.9%, which is not that great. However, Prince George also was not that great in the WHL last season. They did qualify for the playoffs and Brennan put up a 95.4% save percentage in four playoff games in a brief appearance. At a first glance, it does look like a reach. However, EP’s profile has rankings ranging from 62nd (TSN/Bob McKenzie) to 142nd (McKeen’s) with NHL Central Scouting listing him as the top goalie among North American based goaltenders. If nothing else, this is not an off the board pick. It is also telling of how good this year’s draft class is for goalies that the CSS top ranked goalie in North America went this late in the draft and was the third goalie taken at all (Topias Leinonen and Niklas Kokko went in the second round).
Given how critical experience is for goaltenders, there is a good argument to be made that Brennan and the other goalies in this year’s draft class can be seen as underrated. His tools may be what helps him perform at the next level and why he was picked by anyone at all. His middling-looking WHL numbers may be a function of few games played (a grand total of 68 games) over three seasons with two cut short by the pandemic along with a not-so-great Prince George team. He could grow better than what his number suggest. Of course, he is a goaltender so time will tell whether he works out - just like Evan Cormier, Gilles Senn, Nico Daws, Akira Schmid, Cole Brady, and Jakub Malek before him.
For more information on Brennan, I recommend reading Alex’s profile of the player from late June. Alex highlighted that Brennan’s athleticism is a big reason for his prospects combined with his large frame. The concerns with Brennan are more technical, although the quotes Alex found indicate that they could be taught, worked on, and improved. Which will be something to look for as he develops in the Devils’ system. Alex did not think he was worth a second or third round pick, so an early fourth round selection works out.
As an additional perspective, Kerr profiled Brennan at Last Word on Sports last week. Kerr notes that Brennan is good at getting in and out of a butterfly stance quickly. He likes his blocker and glove hands. Kerr does note that he has to work on his rebound control - something he noted is an issue for a lot of young goalies - as well as the space between his arms and body. Kerr highlighted his mental aspect as his best asset; bad goals or games do not frustrate him and he remained calm in the crease for the Cougars from what he has seen. Kerr’s profile is positive but does conclude that he is a project and needs to get prime minutes wherever he plays next season and beyond to grow. Which I agree with.
For another perspective, Logan Horn wrote this profile about Brennan at The Hockey Writers. Horn noted that Brennan struggled with shots put close to his body. Closing his arms or squeezing them in tight has been an issue that has led to some goals. Further, he could stand to get better at playing the puck with his stick per horn. But Horn also noted that those are things that can be improved and the appeal of Brennan lies in his athleticism and his instincts - which is consistent with what Alex found and Kerr wrote.
As it is a fourth round pick at 102nd overall, I cannot say I hate it, dislike it, or prefer other people available. I figured the Devils would take a goalie at some point given their past drafts and they did. Is Brennan worth this pick? Sure. Will it be good? Ask me in about five years. If it does not turn out, then what was really lost? Not much.
Now I want your initial reactions to the pick. Please vote in the poll and leave your thoughts about Brennan and this selection. Do you like the pick? Do you like the Devils continuing to select at least one goalie every draft? Please leave your answers in the comments; thank you for reading.
The Devils drafted Tyler Brennan 102nd Overall. What do you think of the pick?
This poll is closed
I love it!
I like the pick.
I don’t know / I’m in the middle.
I don’t like the pick.
I hate it!