Despite leading WHL rookies in goals, assists, and points, and being named the WHL Rookie of the Year, Brayden Tracey’s stock doesn’t appear to be too high.
There are a few reasons why this appears to be the case, but there are still some intriguing aspects to his game and numbers that warrant him getting some consideration on draft day.
We’ll take a look at Moose Jaw Warriors forward, Brayden Tracey.
- Age/Birthdate: 17 / May 28, 2001
- Birthplace: Calgary, AB, CAN
- Frame: 6-foot-0 / 176 lbs
- Position: Left Wing
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Moose Jaw Warriors (WHL)
- U16 WCCC Gold Medal
- AMHL Second All-Star Team
- U17 WHC Silver Medal
- WHL Most Assists by Rookie (45)
- WHL Most Goals by Rookie (36)
- WHL Most Points by Rookie (81)
- WHL Rookie of the Year (Jim Piggott Trophy)
2018-19 Stat Rundown
|GP||G||A||P||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 ePr60||SEAL||Sh/GP||Sh%||5v5 eTOI||GF%||GF%rel||GD60 rel||XLS%||Top XLS%||XPR|
Tracey is an opportunistic player who thrives on his ability to attack at the right time. He uses his hockey IQ and anticipation to jump onto loose pucks and create offence when space is afforded to him.
He has a very quick wrist shot and one-timer that allows him to snipe the puck with regularity. Tracey is very accurate and deceptive with that release – it’s off his stick with quickness and velocity.
The Calgary-born winger is also a gifted playmaker who displays patience and is good at getting pucks through seams.
His skating abilities are above average but have some minor technical issues, which in part is due to his lanky frame. He doesn’t have the best straight line top speed, but by relying more on being agile on his feet, he is able to get where he needs to go just fine.
He can be a bit soft on his feet, with opponents being able to push him away from his lane easily. That combined with his lack of top-line speed suggest that he needs to work on his muscle mass and strength to take a step forward with his skating.
Sometimes he tries to make too many moves in space that he doesn’t quite have. This results in him tripping over his own hands and feet and giving up the puck. If there is any pressure, he seems to panic; when he is given space though, he is able to use his puck skills well.
The positive attributes above make Tracey a very effective offensive player. In the defensive zone, Tracey struggles to battle along the boards and relies more on trying to his stick to disrupt. When he works at it, he is effective at stripping the puck and creating a transition. But when he isn’t really battling, playing more of a passive game instead, his defensive contributions are extremely limited.
Puck watching can be an issue for Tracey in all three zones, and can be a major point of frustration.
Another point of concern to his game is his consistency. Some nights it felt like he was letting his Warrior teammates make things happen; he would then jump on a loose puck, make a good pass, or get a nice bounce for a goal, and the boxscore would suggest that he had a good game.
Ideally, Tracey will work on his compete level and his consistency on a night-to-night basis. Those are the things that will hold him back from having an effective professional career. As he showed at the World Under-18’s, when he is playing well he is a very smart and skilled player that can make an impact – but he has to want that player on a more consistent basis.
Looking at his numbers, Tracey is a player that should be ranked much higher than 21st among North American skaters suggests. His statistical profile through pGPS suggests the value of a mid-first round selection.
With an expected likelihood success of 48%, Tracey compares favourably with some of the top prospects in this draft class. That is reinforced with SEAL adjusted scoring, as he checks in with the 13th highest rate among first time draft eligible prospects.
There are a lot of positives from those two models, and they should be kept in mind when considering him. He is not without red flags, but the kid was able to put up points at an impressive rate.
The other major question that gets brought up with regard to Tracey is how much he relied on his teammates for production. The Warriors leaned heavily on their first line of Tracey, Justin Almeida, and Tristan Langan, and the top defensive pair of Jett Woo and Josh Brook. Those five players spent a significant amount of time together, and if they were not producing, the Warriors weren’t generating much offence.
In regards to Tracey specifically, we can clearly see that his offence relied heavily on those players:
When it comes to goals-for percentage, Tracey certainly performed better with Langan than without. The bubble size on the chart below demonstrates how much Tracey played with Langan and Almeida, and how much the team (including Tracey) suffered when Langan, Almeida, Brook and Woo weren’t on the ice.
Tracey’s poor numbers away from those four players shouldn’t come as a surprise, as the players he would then be deployed with represented a steep drop off in talent. It also could be viewed as an indicator that Tracey wasn’t able to drive on-ice success without highly skilled help.
That said, the suggestion that Tracey owes all his offence to Langan and Almeida is likely taking the argument too far in the other direction. Tracey definitely benefited from playing with them, but his production shouldn’t be entirely dismissed. From my observations, the few games that Tracey played with alternative linemates, he was still doing the things that made him effective but his linemates weren’t able to convert. It will be interesting to see how he handles next season, as all those four other players will be gone. Given what Moosejaw has to replace them, it shouldn’t be a surprise if his production drop next year or remains stagnant.
Those criticisms should be calmed a bit with Tracey’s performance at the World Under-18’s. There he was put in a position to succeed; he looked engaged and he produced.
I think that Tracey is a player that is worth taking a flyer on from the third round onwards. The kid has a really interesting skillset that could translate to becoming a middle six offensive winger.
The questions about his scoring and reliance on his linemates might converge with the concerns about his consistency and competitiveness. Getting him engaged on a nightly basis might have benefits across the board; that would be my primary focus with him. But there is still risk here: if he isn’t willing or capable of dialing it up consistently, he isn’t going to last at the professional level, despite the lofty junior point totals in his draft season.
Rolling Season Data
Raw data for the charts used in this article came from eliteprospects.com and WHL.ca.
Some clips were pulled from videos from prospectshifts.com. Check out Brayden Tracey’s page here (paywall). Other clips were pulled from original broadcasts, with all rights reserved for the original broadcast companies.
Founder and analyst for NextGenHockey.ca — Contributor to The Athletic Vancouver, EliteProspects, CanucksArmy, and Canucks.com.
Father of two and decent husband.
I watch the game.