2021-22 Team: Lincoln Stars (USHL)
Date of Birth: February 9, 2004
Place of Birth: Glencoe, IL, USA
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 194 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 83rd (NA Skaters)
- SMAHT Rankings: 66th
- Craig Button’s Rankings: 71st
- Recruit Scouting: 91st
- Zator’s Top 96 April Rankings: 92nd
There is a fair bit of interest in center Brennan Ali coming into the 2022 Draft. Depending on who you ask, they could have him going anywhere from the beginning of the third round to somewhere in the sixth. Regardless of where a team may have him on their chart, the kid can play and is an intriguing prospect entering the draft.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
This past season, Ali played for three different teams. He spent the majority of the year playing for Avon Old Farms School which is part of the United States High School Prep league (USHS-Prep). In 27 games, he recorded 15 goals and 34 points to finish second on his team. He also saw action in two games with the U.S. National U18 Team in the United States Development Program League (USDP) recording one assist and finished his season with the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League (USHL) playing nine games and registering two points. It was a busy year for the 18-year-old but he showed he could adapt to new situations and elevate his play to match the competition around him.
Ali is listed at 6-foot-1 and 185 pounds and can use his size to his advantage. He is very hard to knock off the puck and knows how to drive the net hard. This allows teammates to hit him with passes in stride or get shots on goal with a screen in front. From skating to his puck-handling skills, he has all the tools needed to make the NHL one day.
The main issue with Ali is that he needs to work on his east/west game. He loves to drive the net but sometimes, that option is unavailable so he needs to work on moving around in the offensive zone. Moving side to side could help him become more dynamic and will be a trait needed if he wants to make the jump to the NHL.
Next season, Ali is set to attend the University of Notre Dame. It is a strong program that has seen graduates transition to the NHL including Bryan Rust, Jake Evans, Anders Lee and Ian Cole. With a strong development plan and high-end coaching at the NCAA level, he could be a later-round steal for whichever team selects him.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Brennan Ali – NHL Draft Projection
As mentioned, it is very difficult to get a read on where Ali will fall in the draft. Based on NHL Central Scouting’s rankings, it looks as though he will fall somewhere in the late fifth round or between picks 150 and 161. It is also very possible a team jumps at the chance to draft him and takes him in the fourth round. Other players picked in this range include Alexander Kerfoot, Brandon Hagel and Jesper Fast.
“Ali has the skating, shooting, hands, and offensive awareness to be a big point producer in whatever league he’s in, and I think I could easily see him in the NHL one day. A lot of small details to work out in his game but there’s a real high ceiling for him as a player. If he were to make the NHL I’d think he’d play in a middle-six role while playing a huge part on his teams power play. We’ll probably see Ali used like that throughout his development path. I think he’ll need a few years to develop and round out his game but I’d be looking to take him in the third round of the upcoming draft.” – Douglas Larson, FC Hockey
“Ali is an energy type of player who relies on his smarts and his work-ethic to get open in the offensive zone and impact the game. His strength and IQ are the two things that pop off the page. Offensively, he can find the soft spots in the defensive coverage and get open for a prime scoring chance.” – Austin Broad, FC Hockey
- Skating ability
- Puck-handling skills
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Side to side movement
- Play in the defensive zone
Ali has the potential to be an everyday middle-six forward. He has the offensive talent needed to produce at the pro level and could be used as a net-front presence on the power play. The University of Notre Dame should help smooth out some of the rough edges which should help with his transition to the pro game.
Risk- 2/5, Reward 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence- 7/10, Defense 5/10
- Named to Team USA at the Hlinka Gretzky Cyp in 2021
Brennan Ali Stats
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.