2021-22 Team: Saskatoon Blades (WHL)
Date of Birth: April 13, 2004
Place of Birth: Port Coquitlam, British Columbia
Ht: 5-foot-9 Wt: 172 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting Final Rankings: 74th (Among NA Skaters)
- Dobber Prospects April Rankings: 62nd
- Craig Button’s May Rankings: 78th
- Recruit Scouting Spring Rankings: 78th
- FC Hockey: 81st
- Peter Baracchini’s May Rankings: 94th
Tristen Robins wasn’t on many radars heading into the 2020 NHL Entry Draft. Although he led the Western Hockey League’s (WHL) Saskatoon Blades with 33 goals and 73 points, scouts and analysts weren’t convinced that his 5-foot-10 frame would translate to the professional ranks. Yet that didn’t deter the San Jose Sharks, who jumped to select him with the 56th overall pick. The following season, he made his pro debut with the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League and has become one of the franchise’s top 10 prospects after putting up another point-per-game performance in the WHL.
Related: 2022 NHL Draft Guide
This season, another Blade is hoping to catch the draft by surprise. Like Robins, Brandon Lisowsky is a smaller prospect at 5-foot-9, but his game is anything but small. In his rookie season, he finished with 33 goals, good for third on the team in scoring and eighth all-time among 17-year-olds in franchise history, recording the highest total since Devin Setoguchi put up 33 goals in 2004-05. Lisowsky was also ninth in WHL rookie points and fourth in rookie goals. Furthermore, he had nine multi-goal games and two hat tricks in 2021-22, which ranked higher than Matthew Savoie and 2023 top prospect Brayden Yager, who both outscored him this season.
It’s clear that Lisowsky likes to score, and he’s good at it, too. But he’s more than just a one-dimensional finisher. Few players work as hard as the Blades’ rookie. He constantly is looking around, trying to figure out where the puck is going to be rather than where it is, and he’s usually right, using a combination of speed and quick decision-making to get where he needs to be to create a scoring chance. If an opponent has the puck, he’s incredibly vigilant, waiting for them to make a mistake to he can force a turnover. There’s very little he cannot do simply because he is so smart and never gives up no matter the role he’s placed into, but he’s not reckless with his attack, often waiting until just the perfect time to make his move.
However, Lisowsky is still a smaller player, which will cause many scouts and organizations to rank him lower than his skill would normally dictate. To be fair, most of his current deficiencies are caused by his lack of size; he can get pushed off the puck by bigger players who are simply stronger than him, and on defence, he lacks the reach of some other players to use his stick as effectively as it could be in breaking up plays. But these are far from new obstacles for undersized forwards. Just look at Tyler Ennis, who’s carved out a successful 13-season career, yet stands just 5-foot-9.
Lisowsky may not be a household name and may never ascend to that level of recognition, but his skills are already finely tuned despite his young age. He’s fast, dedicated, and driven to succeed in any circumstance. Only a handful of players have had such successful rookies seasons in the WHL, and the Port Coquitlam native is bound to keep improving in 2022-23 and beyond.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Brandon Lisowsky – NHL Draft Projection
Scouts seemed to have learned from sleeping on Robins because most of the major draft rankings have Lisowksy going somewhere in the third round. But will someone take a chance like the Sharks in 2020? It’s entirely possible, especially with the Arizona Coyotes and Seattle Kraken owning four second-round picks and both in need of adding some goal scorers to their farm system. A brief playoff showing with the Blades won’t help him, but he still managed five points in five games. As the second round starts to wind down, keep an eye on him.
“Brandon Lisowsky‘s performance in the Western Hockey League has been turning some heads. The Saskatoon Blades center is just getting better and better this season, with his 17 points in February bringing his season total to 49 points (28 goals, 21 assists) in 50 games. Lisowsky is now playing nearly at a point-per-game pace this season and he’s been catching the eye of scouts. His point total led all draft-eligible WHL players in February. He sits third on the team in points on the campaign. Look for him to finish the season strong as he gears up for the 2022 NHL Draft.” Josh Bell, FC Hockey
“Lisowsky has the ability to score 20 or more goals at the NHL level due to how good of a shooter he is. His relentless pursuit of offence, work ethic and speed will make him an enticing player for NHL teams at the draft. This is a player that can fill a role in a team’s middle six as well as their power play given how skilled he is. The question surrounding most smaller forwards is whether or not they will be able to remain as effective once the competition ramps up and the play becomes more physical. I’m less worried about how Lisowsky will adapt to the professional game than I am with some other smaller forwards, but I still have my questions. Lisowsky will need to gain more strength and attack the middle of the ice more often if he is to become an NHL player.” Matthew Somma, Smaht Scouting
“He’s been outstanding. He’s a guy we knew had an extremely high offensive ceiling. He plays the game at a very fast pace. He’s got an excellent shot. He can distribute the puck. What we’ve been most impressed with is that we thought it would take him a couple of years, in terms of learning the defensive side of the game, coming from a bantam/midget style of game to our (more structured) game, but he’s at (plus-12) and one of the top players in the league. Clearly, he’s taking care of his own zone as well.” Colin Priestner, Saskatoon Blades’ General Manager (from ‘Pegged as a potential first-rounder in 2022 NHL Draft, Brandon Lisowsky savours Regina hub experience,’ Saskatoon Star Phoenix, Apr 23, 2021)
- Skating & Speed
- Decision making
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Defensive pressure
- Attacking the net
Believe it or not, Lisowsky is a fairly safe pick, possessing all the smarts and skills needed to become a competent middle-six scoring winger who can put up 20 goals without too many problems. Strength will be the biggest question mark as to whether he gets there, but if his on-ice work ethic is any indicator, he’ll certainly put the time in away from the rink to fill out and be ready for any level of play.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offence – 8/10, Defence – 6/10
Lisowsky was selected ninth overall in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft and made his debut with the Blades at the end of 2019-20. In 2018-19, he finished fourth in scoring in the Canadian Sport School U15 Hockey League with 32 goals in 26 games. But, despite his skill, Lisowsky has yet to be selected for a Canadian national team or be nominated for any awards, although the latter could change this year when the nominees for the Rookie of the Year are announced on June 1. However, Robins also never played at the Hlinka Gretzky tournament or World Juniors, so it’s far from a black mark on his record.
Brandon Lisowsky Statistics
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An elementary teacher by day and an avid hockey fan, Dayton joined The Hockey Writers in 2019 and currently covers the Ottawa Senators, World Juniors, and NHL Entry Draft.