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2017 NHL Draft: Erik Brannstrom Deserves More Attention
The emergence of Miro Heiskanen and Cale Makar, combined with the fall of Timothy Liljegren, has veered attention away from another promising young Swedish defenseman in Erik Brannstrom. Brannstrom, like Makar, is primarily an offensives defenceman. They both lack size, but are still able to make plays at the defensive end of the ice.
Cale Makar is projected to be selected in the early first round, while Brannstrom is universally ranked to go somewhere in the late first or early second round.
Makar has the advantage in the offensive category. He can carry a team by himself, due to his creativity and hands on the attack. Both prospects also possess a dangerous and complete shot from the point. Their shots are hard and accurate.
When he is in the offensive zone, Makar takes over. He will take the puck and has the ability to develop something from nothing. There are times when he looks beaten or out of the play; but he will out muscle and out work the opposition in order to create a scoring chance. Makar works very well with the team around him as well. Awareness is a key part of his success with the Brooks Bandits. Makar sees opportunities that others do not not, and is able to make the difficult pass more often than not.
Makar has provided adequate defensive play in his own zone, but overall there is not much that he offers when playing on the other side of the neutral zone. He lacks strength and aggressiveness when playing in his own zone. He needs to work on his defensive game and instincts over the next few years.
Compared to Brannstrom
There is little doubt that Cale Makar is a more offensively gifted prospect than Erik Brannstrom. However, Brannstrom is an all-around stellar prospect. He still has great offensive skill. He has quick feet along the point and can set up and quarterback a power play. Brannstrom has fantastic skills in the neutral zone and on the rush coming into the defensive zone. He is effective at carrying the puck and gaining the blue line to set up a play. He also has the ability to stickhandle through the neutral zone and lead an attack towards the net.
Gap control is an attribute of Brannstrom’s that really impresses and makes him a great prospect that has really been overlooked. His stick work in the neutral zone and coming back on the rush are superb. He is quick to efficiently estimate the appropriate amount of space he can allow with the incoming opposition, and then he pounces to dissolve the potential threat.
There is some work to be done with small skating quirks that Erik Brannstrom needs to get over. However, he has a strong base of skills for a defensive prospect who can develop into an offensive producer. Teams that are hoping to grab a defenseman like Cale Makar in the NHL Draft should also be very intrigued by Brannstrom.
Looking to Draft Day
The spot at which Erik Brannstrom could be taken at the NHL Draft is at a point where a team not looking for a defenseman could trade down and be okay with it. There is a real possibility that someone could trade into the late first round in order to grab Brannstrom. He is a very promising prospect and could be a huge pick up in June. If his draft slot is where most are currently projecting, he be looked at as a real steal a few years from now.
Main Photo via youtube.