When Brett Brochu was drafted by the London Knights in the sixth round of the 2018 OHL Priority Selection, no one expected him to make such an impact. After spending a season in the Provincial Junior Hockey League with the Dresden Jr. Kings, he made the jump to the OHL this past season.
With Brochu playing as well as he did this past season, he solidified his spot as one of the game’s brightest young goalies. With all the signs pointing to success in the future, here’s how his season was a sign of things to come.
In his first season with the Knights, Brochu had a record of 32-6-0 to go along with a 2.40 goals-against average (GAA) and a .919 save percentage (SV%). He was amongst the league leaders in all three of those categories and even set a few records along the way.
The most prestigious record he set was becoming the winningest rookie goaltender in OHL history. When he won his 32nd game of the season, he passed John Vanbiesbrouck and Andrew Loverock to take sole possession of the record. More impressive was the fact that the record has been in place for 14 years before Brochu broke it.
Although not as big as the winningest rookie goaltender in OHL history, Brochu set a few other records as well. Winning his 29th game of the season against the Erie Otters, he surpassed Ryan MacDonald to become the winningest rookie goalie in Knights’ history.
At the announcement of the OHL season and playoffs being canceled, Brochu was also awarded the Dinty Moore Trophy, awarded to the rookie goalie with the lowest GAA. His 2.40 GAA was the lowest amongst recipients since 2012-13.
As a prospect eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft, Brochu has all the makings of an NHL goalie. Although he is only 5-foot-11, what he lacks in size, he makes up for in athletic ability and raw potential.
Brochu is what people consider a modern-day butterfly goalie. He plays his angles well and is rarely found out of position. His shot control is good and he rarely gives up bad rebounds. When the puck goes in behind the net, he has no problem playing the puck and can make plays under pressure. His mental game is strong and does not let bad goals rattle him. He takes it with a grain of salt and moves on.
Another thing that Brochu does not lack is confidence. He believes in his abilities and has proven that he can hang with the best this past season. Although he was ranked 29th amongst North American goalies in this year’s draft by NHL Central Scouting, his season has to have attracted many scouts to the arena.
Although Brochu still needs to develop and round out his game, he has all the tools that point to a bright future. He still needs to add weight but that will come with time. With his raw abilities, he has the potential to be an NHL starter.
If I were to compare him to a goalie in the NHL right now, I would say he reminds me of Nashville Predators’ goalie Juuse Saros. Although Saros is the Predators backup at the moment, when Pekka Rinne retires, he will most likely take over as the starter.
Brochu reminds me of a lot of Saros for many reasons. Firstly, both goalies are below average height for a regular goalie. Both have fought for respect in their respective leagues and have come out on top. They each took their criticism with open ears and proved their doubters wrong.
Secondly, both goalies play their angles really well. They are able to track the puck through traffic and have good rebound control. Both can provide their teams with a much-needed spark by making a big save.
Another similarity is the fact that they are both not afraid to play the puck. Both Saros and Brochu have confidence in handling the puck and can make plays under pressure. They do not panic when forwards are in on the forecheck and are not afraid to make long passes to their forwards in the neutral zone when the other team is changing.
A year ago, no one knew who Brochu was. Fast forward to today and anyone who follows the OHL knows exactly who he is. When he takes the ice next season, all eyes will be on him to dominate. Having all the tools to succeed at his disposal, it will be exciting to see where his path takes him next.