FanPost

Steve Sullivan 2.0 and the Burden of Size Bias

This season, Brayden Point finished 13th in WHL scoring with 91 points in 72 games while playing on the pitiful Moose Jaw Warriors. It was statistically one of the better age 18 seasons submitted in the Dub in recent years and is in range of the Bennetts, Draisaitls and Reinharts of the CHL. He scored 20 more points than projected top 10 pick and possibly future Nashville Predator Jake Virtanen and is only 5 months older. He was a point per game player in his age 17 season and has performed more than admirably in the U-17 and 18 tournaments, scoring 11 points in 14 games for Team Canada. Brayden was one of the leading scorers amongst draft eligible forwards this year and is easily a first round level player based on talent alone. Most impressively, Point scored 7 goals and 10 points in 14 playoff games at the tender age of 15 (!!) after only playing in 5 (!) regular season games prior to being called up by to the Warriors.

Why isn't Brayden Point receiving more interest as the 2014 entry draft nears? And why is this in all likelihood the very first you've heard of the young dynamo? Because he is currently listed at 5 foot 9 and 160 pounds. With the emergence of Martin St. Louis, Brian Gionta and Nathan Gerbe (who is an astonishing 5'5) among many, many other smaller players achieving success in recent NHL history, one would hope that the bias against less vertically gifted prospects would be a thing of the past. Our own Steve Sullivan, who was selected in the 9th round, 233rd overall in the 1994 entry draft due to being 5'8 and 150 soaking wet, finished his career as one of the better scoring forwards of his generation, tallying 747 points in over 1,000 NHL games, amassing an identical PPG rate during the 2000's as Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne and Milan Hejduk.

Yet scouts still doubt if Point can put up his namesake in the NHL due to his smaller stature, and only that. He is considered a truly complete forward, a Center capable of elite and inspired moments of skill in the offensive zone, is someone who plays a "200 foot game" and is by all accounts a rare and unique talent. In fact, he would surely be compared to Steve Sullivan, if the Hockey World were to shed more light in his direction.

From EliteProspects.com:

"Point is a spark-plug who plays bigger than his size suggests. He's got a strong work ethic and a motor that doesn't stop. He can play 200 feet, is strong on the draw and shows loads of grit. He makes smart passes and has impressive vision. He's more of a playmaker but can finish, too. (August 2013)"

He has been listed as the 31st best North American Skater prospect in the 2014 draft by the CSS which means that he could be selected in the first round though it is unlikely. Brayden will probably make the journey to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania a day later, if at all, as it is probable that he is passed over completely in the initial rounds of the draft. This strikes me as odd as we are firmly entrenched in a modern era of hockey in which a player of his style, make and caliber could be a very useful asset, for many years. In terms of CHL forwards born within 5 months of March 1996, Brayden is ranked behind the following prospects in terms of draft ranking yet way ahead in terms of Points Per Game:

  • 6 - Jake Virtanen, August 17 1996, 71 Points in 71 Games 1.00 PPG
  • 10 - Jared McCann, May 3 1996, 62 Points in 64 Games 0.96 PPG
  • 20 - Ryan MacInnis, February 14 1996, 37 Points in 66 Games 0.56 PPG
  • 23 - John Quenneville, April 4 1996, 58 Points in 61 Games 0.95 PPG
  • 25 - Eric Cornel, April 11 1996, 62 Points in 68 Games 0.91 PPG
  • 28 - Brendan Lemieux, March 15 1996, 53 Points in 65 Games 0.81 PPG
  • 29 - Reid Gardiner, Jan 19 1996, 44 Points in 70 Games 0.62 PPG
  • 31 - Brayden Point, March 12 1996, 91 Points in 72 Games 1.26 PPG

This all becomes relevant as our Nashville Predators own the 42nd and 46th picks in the 2014 NHL entry draft as well as the 11th overall. While it would be gutsy and perhaps a little hasty to select BP with our first round selection, it seems more than reasonable and perhaps crucial to acquire the young scorer with our initial pick or secondary pick in the 2nd round. We need to find scoring forwards by any means necessary and young Brayden clearly has the skillset, ability and style of play that our franchise so desperately requires.

#DraftBraydenPoint!

This FanPost was written by an OTF reader, and does not represent the views of the editorial staff. Got something you'd like to share? <a href="http://www.sbnation.com/admin/entries/new?community_id=208&entry_type=FanPost" target="new">Post your own</a>!

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