With the 2020 offseason coming up in five months, the Vancouver Canucks have a very important person to re-sign, and it’s not starting goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
Judd Brackett serves as the Canucks director of amateur scouting, and his current contract is coming to an end this season. The Canucks have been in talks with Brackett on an extension, but people in Vancouver are unsure if a deal will be made sometime soon and the two sides may part ways (from ‘Patrick Johnston: Are the Canucks and Judd Brackett headed in different directions?,’ The Province,’ 01/30/2020).
This will likely be bad news for Canucks fans as Brackett has been an important part of creating the young and exciting core in Vancouver.
Brackett joined the Canucks as an amateur scout in 2008 under former general manager Mike Gillis. In August 2015, Brackett was promoted to the director of amateur scouting after Jim Benning’s first season as GM of the Canucks. As the director of amateur scouting, Brackett is in charge of the amateur scouting staff, as well as supporting the player evaluations of regional scouts.
What Has He Done?
Since getting promoted, Brackett has done a great job at leading the amateur scouting staff and finding great prospects to stack the cupboard for the Canucks. Although his first draft class as director of amateur scouting in 2016 hasn’t panned out as the Canucks would have hoped, the drafts following are impressive.
The Pettersson Draft
In the 2017 NHL Draft, the Canucks struck gold in drafting Elias Pettersson with the fifth-overall pick. It has been noted that Brackett and his scouting staff had been fighting for the Canucks to draft Pettersson instead of Cody Glass, who had a strong case to be selected by Vancouver (from ‘The Provies: The Midsummer Classic, including the Hughes thing, the Wise thing, the Cloutier thing and that showdown thing,’ The Province, 06/25/2018).
The club drafted Kole Lind in the second round, who The Hockey Writers own Matthew Zator has ranked at No. 9 in his Canucks top-10 prospects rankings. Zator was correct in stating that Lind is notorious for his slow starts in his rookie seasons. In his sophomore season with the Utica Comets in the American Hockey League, Lind has gone from posting 17 points in 51 games to 39 points in 50 games. With the 64th pick in the 2017 Draft, Vancouver took goaltender Michael DiPietro, who has also impressed over the past year. He started in his first pro game against the Sharks in February and has split the starting job in net for the Comets with Zane Mcintyre.
The Quinn Hughes Draft
The 2018 Draft arguably may be more impressive for Brackett and his scouting team. The Canucks took Quinn Hughes, who, along with Pettersson, has been a game-changer for the franchise. They followed up the Hughes pick with another defenceman in Jett Woo, who has struggled for the Calgary Hitmen this season, after having a strong 2018-19 season with the Moose Jaw Warriors. The Canucks also took Tyler Madden, son of former New Jersey Devils forward John Madden, with their third-round pick. Madden has built a strong case for himself to win the Hobey Baker Trophy for being college hockey’s top player.
The Draft in Vancouver
The 2019 Draft was special for the Canucks as it was held in Vancouver. The draft may be Brackett’s last draft with the Canucks unless he signs an extension with the franchise. If it is his last draft, he leaves the team with two top prospects who have a lot of promise. The Canucks took Vasily Podkolzin with the 10th pick of the draft. Podkolzin struggled in his first season in the KHL, posting zero points in his first 16 games, but has since put up five points in his last seven games. This is largely due to him getting more offensive opportunities and time on the power play.
Nail Hoglander was the 40th pick in last year’s draft and has shown improvement statistically in his second season with the Rogle BK Angelholm in the Swedish Hockey League. He has gone from 14 points in 50 games in the 2018-19 season to 12 points in 27 games this season. Hoglander also had an impressive showing at the 2020 World Junior Championship in the Czech Republic posting 11 points in seven games, which was good for third in overall points. He scored five goals during the tournament, including the highlight reel lacrosse goal, which was the second time he’s done it since being drafted by the Canucks.
Why the Canucks Should Keep Brackett
Not only has Brackett played a large role in creating the current core of the Canucks, but he has also done a great job of adding more players to support the core. With prospects such as Podkolzin, Hoglander, and Lind, the Canucks have a very promising future. Keeping Brackett would allow Vancouver to continue building their deep prospect pool and stretch out their future success for multiple seasons. Prior to Brackett’s promotion, the Canucks had a very weak prospect pool.
After the 2011 Stanley Cup Final, the Canucks struggled to draft well, and it took a few years until they were able to add prospects to their team. Brackett and his team were able to flip this and took the Canucks from having one of the least promising prospect pools to potentially the most promising in the league. Drafting has become the Canucks’ strong suit, as they have not had too many great trades in which they’ve come off as the winners in the deal and they haven’t been able to sign any top-end talent through free agency. Drafting has become their most important tool and keeping Brackett will only guarantee that it will continue to be that way.
Sartaaj has been watching hockey for over 15 years and covers the Vancouver Canucks for The Hockey Writers.