Brady Vail THW Close-Up:
If there’s any player that embodies how far the game of hockey has come in the United States, it’s probably Brady Vail of the Windsor Spitfires.
Born in the sunny climes of Palm City, Florida, Vail became entranced with the game and his family soon moved up to Michigan, where the opportunities for him to challenge himself far exceeded that of Florida. Since progressing to the Ontario Hockey League, Vail has spent two seasons plying his trade with the Spitfires, an organization akin to a factory producing able-bodied professional hockey players.
It was at the Windsor hockey factory that Vail took a great leap forward this year.
After ten points as an OHL rookie in 2010-11, Vail amassed 52 points (including 20 goals) this season. Additionally, despite playing a great deal of time against the opposition’s top players, he was a plus player. Both facts speak to how far this Floridian has come as a two-way hockey player. He can shut down the other team’s top line, then score a few goals to help his team win. He scores game-winners, he scores on the power-play, he scores short-handed.
Despite all this, Vail remains a bit of a project. He’s what could be termed as a pretty good player, in that he’s good at everything, but not particularly excellent or bad at anything. He’s arguably devoid of top-line talent, but is very effective at knowing where he should be on the ice, with and without the puck. His goals are smart goals. His defensive players are smart defensive players. He’s not especially fast – his foot-speed could use a bit of work – but he’s not flat-footed. He’s a smart player with a good work ethic that seems to have picked up where his talent left off.
Brady Vail has come a long, long way since moving to Michigan from Florida. He seems like a very good “team” guy. He works his backside off and is responsible on both ends of the ice. There’s a bit of a question as to his top-end potential, but he’s definitely going to be an interesting long-term project for whichever team chooses him at the draft.
“A tireless worker, Vail wins a ton of board battles and is never afraid to get himself into traffic. He has a hard, accurate shot and a quick release. Vail is also a good passer, and has decent vision to find the open man in the offensive zone. While Vail has greatly improved this season, and is much better with the puck on his stick, he still isn’t the type of player who will dangle a ton of defencemen, or deke guys out. His offensive game is more straightforward and based on pure north-south play, and a dogged determination.”
-Ben Kerr, Last Word on Sports
Vail has not yet represented Team USA internationally.
Risk = 2.5/5 Reward = 3/5
A responsible, effective, bottom-six two-way forward.
*See “THW Close-Up” section above.
- Strong positional instincts (with and without the puck)
- Good top-end speed
- Tireless worker
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
- Offensive creativity
- Needs to improve his first few strides in terms of take-off speed
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Forward – 7/10
NHL Player(s) Comparison:
Potentially a Chris Kelly-type, a rugged two-way player that can chip in some offense here and there.
Off The Iron (Interesting Notes):
- A 4th round selection, 67th overall, of the Windsor Spitfires in the 2010 OHL Priority Draft.
- Ranked 38th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting.