Brandon Fortunato THW Close-Up:
Date of birth: 6/7/1996
Place of birth: Albertson, New York
Ht: 5’10” Wt: 148 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2014
THW The Next Ones Rankings (January 2014): Not ranked
THW War Room Rankings (April): Not ranked
Future Considerations: Not ranked
Craig Button: Not ranked
CS Final Rankings for North American skaters: Not ranked
Brandon Fortunato has been flying under the radar for quite some time. He doesn’t carry with him the expectations of a Ryan Collins, Jack Dougherty, or Johnny MacLeod. He’s a defenseman who led the NTDP in points from the blueline and still isn’t ranked in any major draft rankings that I could find. Honestly, Fortunato probably prefers it that way.
Fortunato has been a player who hasn’t been given a fair shake due to his height, but what he lacks in size he makes up for it in how he thinks the game. His head is on a swivel constantly and his hockey sense and vision are some of the best I’ve seen. He’s extremely poised with the puck and makes smart, simple plays to move the puck up ice.
He’s agile, quick, and a fluid skater. He is capable of quarterbacking the powerplay, which he did for the majority of his time with the NTDP this year and last year. But he’s defensively responsible as well.
He can’t be overly physical with his body. Instead Fortunato plays a sound defensive game cutting down angles for forwards who try to beat him or set up plays. He still needs to get much stronger before handling the rigors of the NHL game, but he will have plenty of time to do that.
He will be attending Boston University in the fall and I would expect him to stay there for a full four years. Fortunato isn’t a player that should be rushed. It’d be beneficial for his game and the team that drafts him to develop him properly. He’s a potential diamond in the rough.
Where Will He End Up In June:
If he’d be a couple inches taller he could potentially be a 1st or 2nd round pick. It’s more likely he falls to the later rounds of the draft, but it only takes one team to like his game and his style of play before he’s taken off the board. While not probable, don’t be surprised if he’s selected in the 3rd or 4th round.
“He’s by far the smallest defenseman on the U18 roster, but he is arguably the most offensively-gifted defenseman on the team. Fortunato is only 5-foot-9, 150-pounds, but his skill set and competitive playing style make him a very intriguing prospect. As one would expect, he is quick skater and very mobile with the puck. He only posted nine assists in 38 games last season against USHL clubs, but his offensive skill doesn’t match the numbers, and he should be able to contribute more than he did last season. He is a good puck-mover, and he is smart with and without the puck. Away from the offensive game, he works hard in his own end and doesn’t allow his size to dictate his physical game and aggressive edge. Obviously his strength limits how far he sends the opposition on a body-check, but Fortunato showed no issues getting involved on the boards and battling for pucks last season. He could work on his defensive game a bit, as well as his strength, but Fortunato is a prospect to keep tabs on this season.”
“A dynamic offensive-minded defenseman, Fortunato has top-end puck skills and creativity. At 5-9, 144, he’s probably not the ideal size for a defenseman and was left unranked by Central Scouting, but what he does with the puck makes him extremely effective and could even get him drafted anyway. With 32 points including 29 assists, he was the U18′s top scoring defenseman this season. Fortunato is a good skater and has really sound on-ice vision. He is excellent at creating time and space for himself, which leads to Fortunato making a lot of nice plays with the puck. The defenseman reportedly decommitted from Harvard and is currently being pursued by several top college programs. His skills are definitely worth watching.”
Chris Peters – United States of Hockey
In 13 games for Team USA, Fortunato has seven assists. He helped the NTDP win a bronze and gold medal during his time in Ann Arbor.
Risk: 3/5 Reward: 4/5
2nd pairing puck-moving defenseman who can quarterback a powerplay
All aspects of skating
Controlling the powerplay
Great first pass out of the zone
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On:
Needs to build muscle and grow into his body
Work on his shot as it is very weak
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive: 6/10 Defensive: 6/10
NHL Player Comparison:
– NHL comparison: Torey Krug
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph
Follow Shawn on Twitter: @ShawnTHW