Now that the Vancouver Canucks are moving on from Judd Brackett, he will become a sought after free agent when his contract ultimately comes to an end. He was a long-time amateur scout for the franchise before becoming the director in 2015. All-in-all, he was a part of the organization for an astounding 12 years, spanning an era that included two general managers in Mike Gillis and Jim Benning. Over that time, the Canucks drafted much of their current core from captain Bo Horvat to young stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes. They also uncovered gems like Adam Gaudette, Brock Boeser, and Thatcher Demko over that same period.
The scouting department for the Canucks will surely take a hit when he ultimately leaves the fold. Though, one team’s loss will be another team’s gain as he likely won’t be out of a job for long. With that said, let’s take a look at three teams who could be giving Brackett a call.
1. Seattle Expansion Team
The new Seattle franchise still hasn’t graced the hockey world with a name yet, but they may have just found their next hire in Brackett. His overall success at the draft table, not just in the first round but in the later rounds would help form a solid foundation for their scouting department. General manager Ron Francis has already begun in earnest by hiring the NHL’s first female scout in Cammi Granato as well as former players Stu Barnes, Ulf Samuelsson, Dave Hunter, and John Goodwin. Brackett could be the perfect candidate to help them form the young future of this new franchise.
Even though Brackett has spent his entire career as a scout, he could be in line for an assistant general manager position instead. One of the reasons the Canucks could not get him to agree on another contract was because of his request for a voice at the table and control over things Benning wanted to be involved in (from ‘Brackett’s power play for ‘autonomy’ costs Canucks’ star scout his job’, The Province – 5/29/20). He may not get total control over the draft in Seattle, but as an assistant GM, he would definitely have a lot more say into what goes on in the scouting department.
2. New Jersey Devils
The New Jersey Devils’ current management structure is very much in flux right now. After five seasons of underwhelming results, GM Ray Shero was fired in the middle of 2019-20, leaving interim GM Tom Fitzgerald to pick up the pieces. As of right now, he is still leading the charge, but it appears that Gillis could be taking over soon. He has been interviewed twice already and looks poised to re-enter the NHL in a management capacity.
If that happens, Brackett could be his first hire, seeing that they are familiar with each other from their days in Vancouver. However, since they just promoted Scott Harris to the director of amateur scouting in 2019, it’s unlikely he takes his job. Though a big fish like Brackett doesn’t come along every day so I could see the Devils looking in his direction anyway, especially if Gillis takes over as GM.
The level of success they have had in the draft has been spotty at best with only Jack Hughes, Nico Hischier, Jesper Bratt, MacKenzie Blackwood, and Pavel Zacha becoming prominent NHLers in the past five seasons. As such, the Devils could use a guru like Brackett running things on the scouting side.
3. Buffalo Sabres
Just like the Devils, the Buffalo Sabres have not had much success in the past five seasons drafting and developing players beyond the first and second rounds. For the most part, they usually yield at least one or two solid NHL players, even with mediocre scouting. However, to be a consistent contender in this league, you have to be good at discovering players in the later rounds as well. The only prominent player to fall in that category was Victor Olofsson in the seventh round all the way back in 2014. Since then, only three players from the third round or later have played an NHL game, making it a virtual wasteland after the second round for this franchise.
That’s where Brackett could turn things around, as he’s proven to be a master at the later rounds in recent years. He also has had tremendous success at the college level with draft picks like William Lockwood, Jack Rathbone, Tyler Madden (now with the Los Angeles Kings), and Aiden McDonough all having played at the NCAA level. More importantly, they also appear to be on their way to the NHL very soon.
The Sabres desperately need to turn things around in the drafting department, especially with all the picks they will probably have in the coming seasons. They now have missed the playoffs a record nine seasons in a row, so a turnaround needs to happen very soon. Brackett could be the one to get it started.
Brackett Will Land Somewhere
If it’s not with any of the above teams, Brackett will find a job somewhere, he’s just been too successful in his role not to. Any team that has had little to no success at the draft table will be kicking tires on him, that’s for sure. The question will be, which team is going to give him the control and input he wants?
Unfortunately for the Canucks, Benning wasn’t willing to give up control of certain things in the scouting department. Maybe another team will think differently and hand him the reigns. All I know is that they lost a good, hard-working scout that was a huge part of why the franchise is in an unprecedented era of drafting and developing solid NHL players. Canucks Nation will forever be grateful to him for that.
My name is Matthew and I cover the Vancouver Canucks, and Vancouver Giants here at the Hockey Writers. I am also the head of the prospects and NHL Draft coverage. In addition to writing, I host the Canucks & Pucks podcast as well. I am passionate about the Canucks, prospects, and all things hockey.