2015-16 Team: Moose Jaw Warriors (#21)
Date of Birth: March 29, 1998
Place of Birth: Oakbank, MB
Ht: 6’3” Wt: 195 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2016 first-year eligible
THW The Next Ones Ranking: 24th (June)
- THW Alternate: 26th (June)
- THW War Room: 24th (June)
- Future Considerations: unranked (June)
- ISS: 26th (June)
- Bob McKenzie: 24th (June)
- Craig Button: 18th (June)
In the hockey world, bloodlines and teammates can be very important; young players (in particular) can progress quickly if they’re in the right learning situation. Moose Jaw center Brett Howden has benefited hugely from being in a really strong learning situation.
Brett’s older brother is Quinton, a 2010 first round selection of the Florida Panthers. His head coach in Moose Jaw is longtime NHLer Tim Hunter. His teammates include NHL draftees Brayden Point and Marc McNulty. He received a ton of ice-time on a competitive Warriors club, and was in a situation to sponge up a ton of useful information about what it takes to compete at the NHL level from every direction he turned.
Aside from the positive situation, Howden has a ton of strong attributes. First and foremost is his size; he’s already got an NHL frame and merely needs to fill out a bit to be able to battle effectively at the pro level. At a young age, Howden has already established himself as an effective 200-foot player. He anticipates and makes decisions effectively at all ends of the ice, though his offensive killer instinct isn’t as well-honed as it could become. That said, he has a nose for the net and is content driving the net and creating chaos.
If there’s a criticism of Howden, it’s that he doesn’t quite excel at anything yet. He’s good at everything and his game has few weaknesses, but he doesn’t have any attributes that have developed to the point where you could say he’s excellent at them. That said, he’s shown considerable growth over the past season and it’s probable that he’ll grow even more as he gets involved in an NHL club’s development system.
It’s likely that NHL clubs will covet Howden for his size and bloodlines, as they may ensure he has a high “floor” for his development. But they’ll be quite happy they selected him if he can take one or two of the things he’s good at and become excellent at them.
NHL Draft Projection:
Howden is one of several players that could go anywhere from the late first round to the middle of the second round.
“A two-way forward who uses his large frame to his advantage standing in front of the net screening the goalie and collecting rebounds. Will battle hard in front and in the corners with a real physical edge. He won’t drop the gloves but plays a game that suits his size. Has a real long reach that he uses to protect the puck. Has shown much improved play in the defensive zone over the season and is a real mature puck distributor. Skating needs some work and he needs to remember to keep his feet moving away from the puck.”
–Marshall Mackinder, Hockey Now
- Effective 200-foot presence
- Strong hockey sense
- Accurate passer
Under Construction (Improvements to Make):
- Acceleration could use some improvement
- Doesn’t play particularly “mean”
- Needs to add some muscle to his big frame to battle at the pro level
If Howden keeps improving, he projects as a Tyler Toffoli or Brayden Schenn at the NHL level; not a superstar-level talent, but a very effective second-line center.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential:
Offensive 8/10, Defensive 7/10
Howden has represented Canada at the World Under-17s (with Canada White), the Under-18 World Championships and the Ivan Hlinka memorial tournament. He won gold at the Hlinkas and bronze at the U-18s.
Ryan Pike has covered the Calgary Flames and the NHL Draft extensively since 2010 as a Senior Writer for The Hockey Writers and Senior Contributing Editor of FlamesNation.ca. A member of the Professional Hockey Writers Association, he lives in Calgary.