2017-18 Team: Brandon Wheat Kings (#27)
Date of Birth: January 7, 2000
Place of Birth: Surrey, British Columbia
Ht: 6’1″ Wt: 180 lbs
Position: Left Wing
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2018 first-year eligible
- THW (Pike’s Picks): 109th (final)
- Future Considerations: 70th (final)
- ISS: not in top 31 (final)
- Bob McKenzie: not in top 93 (final)
- Craig Button: 87th (final)
Opportunity is a double-edged sword in the hockey world. There’s often a big trade-off between being a good player heavily relied upon on a thin team and being a role player that plays a smaller part on a powerhouse. Luka Burzan experienced a bit of both this past season; he was a depth guy for the powerhouse Moose Jaw Warriors until a trade to the less-stacked Brandon Wheat Kings at the Western Hockey League’s trade deadline. His performance with Brandon has encouraged a lot of scouts and reinforced the suspicions of many regarding his draft value.
Burzan was the sixth overall pick in the WHL’s Bantam Draft in 2015 after a stellar bantam season. He moved to the WHL full-time in 2016-17. Burzan’s WHL career can basically be split into three parts: his rookie year in Moose Jaw, his first half of 2017-18 with Moose Jaw and his time in Brandon.
- 14 goals (0.21/game) and 27 points (0.41/game) in 66 games as a rookie with Moose Jaw
- 6 goals (0.14/game) and 19 points (0.45/game) in 42 games this season with Moose Jaw
- 9 goals (0.30/game) and 21 points (0.70/game) in 30 games this season with Brandon
While he was content to play his part in the Moose Jaw juggernaut, Burzan really thrived with the additional ice time and responsibilities he was given in Brandon and was one of the Wheat Kings’ top players in the playoffs.
There are few flashy aspects of Burzan’s game and it’s not unfair to say that he doesn’t really have high-end skill in his repertoire. That said, Burzan is a player that makes his teammates better. He’s a responsible 200-foot player who knows where to be in all three zones. He’s a ferocious forechecker who uses his speed and instincts very well. He’s an underrated offensive contributor who’s taken advantage of his Brandon experience to get more comfortable and confident as a play-maker. He can also play center, though he’s been primarily a winger thus far in his WHL tenure.
Burzan’s not huge physically. He arguably doesn’t have elite-level talent, but he’s a tremendous worker and uses his tenacity and hockey IQ to make his teammates better. It’s unclear what his developmental ceiling is – it’ll become more clear with more time as a primary contributor with Brandon – but his floor seems to be as a useful complementary player who elevates his teammates. If he can continue to unlock his offensive potential with the Wheaties, Burzan could be a tremendous value pick in the 2018 NHL Draft.
Luka Burzan – NHL Draft Projection
Burzan projects as a second or third round selection. Teams with defense-heavy prospect bases might try to jump on him a bit earlier than the others, though.
“The 2015 B.C. Hockey Now Minor Player of the Year has turned heads early in his Junior Career. Burzan has a scoring touch and an above average hockey IQ which allows him to see the ice and be creative with his passing. Has a knack for hitting linemates with a pass right on the tape at top speed. Plays a real good game away from the puck and is defensively responsible and a relentless forechecker. Doesn’t hold on to the puck for too long and likes to find an outlet to generate offence out of the defensive zone. Skates well for a big kid and transfers his weight real well. Draws in the defence creating space for him to send a pass to open ice. Quick hands and will be the first to dig loose pucks out of the scrum. Likes to shoot when given the chance and has a lighting quick wrist shot.” – Marshall MacKinder, Hockey Now
Also to note, Brandon’s Luka Burzan keeps impressing with his speed, work ethic and smart play with the puck. High skill goal tonight is a nice tip of the cap as he is developing his offensive game. I see him breaking out in a big way next year and being a draft steal @FCHockey
— Justin Froese (@FroeseFC) March 18, 2018
- Great forechecker
- Good skater with strong acceleration
- Responsible two-way player
- Strong hockey IQ and situational awareness
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Still developing his offensive game
- He’ll need to add muscle to play his style as a pro
- Arguably doesn’t have elite-level offensive talent
Other 2018 NHL Draft Profiles
Burzan projects as a two-way forward in a middle six role.
Risk – 1/5, Reward – 3.5/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense 8/10, Defense 8/10
Burzan represented Canada in the World Under-17 Challenge and the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, winning silver at the U-17s and gold at the Hlinkas.
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.