One of the biggest risers in this draft class, Bobby Brink ended the season as the 19th ranked skater in North America. That is up from 29th in the mid-term rankings and is a clear representation of how the for plucky winger worked his way onto everyone’s radar.
The Minnesota born winger has an intriguing toolbox that allows him to always be in the play and making things happen. He isn’t a perfect player; there are noticeable flaws to his game, but he has a strong enough foundation that if his drafting team can really hone in on his issues and work on them, Brink could take a big step forward.
All of those things combine to make Brink a really intriguing bet in the middle of the first round.
- Age/Birthdate: 17 / July 8, 2001
- Birthplace: Excelsior, MN, USA
- Frame: 5-foot-10/ 163 lbs
- Position: RW
- Handedness: R
- Draft Year Team: Sioux City Musketeers
- USHS All-USA Hockey Third Team
- U18 WJC Bronze MedalUSHL First All-Star TeamUSHL Forward of the Year
2018-19 Stat Rundown
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The first thing that will stand out about Brink is that he is always involved in the play. If he doesn’t have the puck, he is chasing after it or engaging his opponent to get it. That isn’t to say that he puts himself out of position to chase but merely if the puck is within striking distance, he is going after it.
There are, however, some issues to his skating. Technically, he does a good job at getting low to create long strides but lacks the muscle strength to get where he needs to go. That strength is what appears to hold him back in terms of top speed and acceleration but is something that should rectify itself with more coaching, strength, and natural mass.
That said, Brink is agile on his skates and is able to dodge coverage easily. He combines that nimbleness on his skates and hockey sense to find open space on the regular. Brink sees the open space and goes to it. It’s not always the most pretty way, with a little bit of ‘treadmill feet’ when not at a good speed but he is suddenly wide open with the puck coming to him.
When Brink does get the puck, that’s when the good times begin. Brink’s release is deceptive, quick, and although he gets the puck off his stick so fast, he is extremely accurate with his shot. Usually, a 28% shooting percentage would be a huge red flag but with Brink, it’s not a huge shock. His ability to get into open space to get the full release and putting the puck where he wants almost every time aids that belief.
Like so many of the snipers of this year, Brink does have some underlying playmaking abilities that could allow him to thrive even more when played with better players, as we saw at the U18 World Juniors to close out his season.
In the defensive zone, Brink is particularly strong in keeping within reach of his man. He isn’t as aggressive as he is in the offensive zone, instead of waiting for his opponent to move before he adjusts. If the puck does come to his man, he smartly limits their outlets forcing them to throw the puck down the boards or try to force along the blueline. When he gets the puck along the defensive boards, he is smart about getting it out. It can be via an outlet pass, a chip out, or patiently waiting to carry it out himself but it’s clear that he doesn’t want to give up possession without making the best play first.
His work ethic in the offensive zone stands out almost every single time you watch him and it’s abundantly clear that he is a smart player that reads the game well. His shot is a huge step above the USHL competition and although his shooting percentage will drop at the next level. It’s fair to think that he will continue to do the good things that he can mitigate some of the drop-off. Maybe that comes through his playmaking abilities being better utilized with more skilled players.
The skating fundamentals are there and with some work, they will get better. Ideally, someone of his size would have better skating but it’s not something that should be worried about right now.
Just purely from the eye-test, Brink is an intriguing player that has rightfully climbed up the draft boards to close out this season.
All of the Musketeers offence ran through Brink and that is clearly displayed in any underlying number. His involvement rate was an absurd 47%, his GF% was 66.2% and his GFRel was +23.0%. If Brink wasn’t on the ice, they weren’t scoring much.
Brink is nearly alone by himself in terms of eP60, with Martin Pospisil, one of his most common linemates, being the only one within spitting distance.
He made his most common linemates significantly better when you compare their time without him against the time without.
Ignoring the players from the U.S. National Team Development Program, Brink led all first time draft eligible USHL forwards in goals per game and was a full 0.24 G/GP above the second place guy. He led that same group in primary points and total points per game.
For his efforts, Brink was named the USHL Forward of the Year.
There are no pGPS graphs in this profile because Brink was so far above the vast majority of his pool of potential matches. The cohort model doesn’t consider player-seasons after 2012, because players need to have a fair amount of time to build a pro sample size. For what it’s worth, a couple of statistical matches since 2012 include Clayton Keller and Kieffer Bellows – interesting to note their similarity to Brink despite not be considered for his projection.
Basically, if you look at any underlying number or draft analytical tool for Brink, he stands out in a big way. If there is one area that might give me pause is that Brink won’t be heading to the NCAA until 2020-21, which would be for his draft plus two year. It isn’t a bad thing but merely something that has to be kept in mind. As he may be a little delayed in turning pro which given needing some time to work on the rough edges of his game may end up being a good thing in the long run.
It does however mean that at the conclusion of his junior season at Denver, he could turn pro, use Article 8.6 (c) (iv) and then become an unrestricted free agent, rather than having to wait until the conclusion of his senior season. That is what Edmonton Oilers defenceman Matt Benning did, but it’s premature to worry about that at this stage.
Additional Charts and Data
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and USHL.com. Other data sources include prospect-stats.com.
Founder and analyst for NextGenHockey.ca — Contributor to The Athletic Vancouver, EliteProspects, CanucksArmy, and Canucks.com.
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