The Pittsburgh Penguins had to wait until their first selection of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft back in July. The organization did not have a first-round draft selection for the fifth time in seven seasons and watched as potential stars went to other franchises. Beyond the second-round pick at number 58, general manager Ron Hextall did not make another selection until the fifth round by drafting defenseman Isaac Belliveau at pick 154.
The team looks for as many players as possible that can consistently play a 200-foot game, which is what head coach Mike Sullivan emphasizes from the roster. He looks for players that can create scoring opportunities on offense and force turnovers on defense. Hextall drafted forward Tristan Broz with their second-round selection, and the young prospect has the ability to create plays on offense.
A Skilled, Versatile Player
Broz played for the Fargo Force of the United States Hockey League (USHL), beginning in the 2018-19 season by playing in six games, and he played for the team more extensively during the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. In 48 games for the Force during the 2019-20 season, he had 14 goals and 21 assists for 35 points, and he followed that production up last season with 19 goals and 32 assists for 51 points. According to his 2021 NHL Draft Prospect Profile, the forward is described as an elusive player with a knack for passing and creating chances on offense. His statistics with the Force reflect his playmaking ability, as he improved his goal and assist total last season in comparison with the 2019-20 season.
Broz is a versatile player as the Force used him at left wing, center and on the penalty kill. John Gove of The Draft Analyst had a good review of Broz’s potential to be an impact player:
“A solid all-around player, Broz impacts the game through his individual finishing ability and intelligent passing. He is a clever forward that processes the game quickly. He rarely wows viewers with a ton of flash but he executes plays and consistently contributing to his team’s offense. A notable distributor, Broz also demonstrates a knack for finding the back of the net. He can score off a variety of shots, including one-timer opportunities and wrist shots from a distance. Although he is most effective with mid-range chances, Broz also scores from in tight by redirecting point shots or stuffing in rebounds.” (From “2021 Draft: Top-10 USHL Prospects,” by John Gove, The Draft Analyst, 4/26/21)
Broz’s Fit With the Penguins
Based upon his profile, Broz has the offensive traits Sullivan looks for in his players, and he remains aggressive in his pursuit to create scoring opportunities. The Penguins have had one of the top playmakers in the NHL for 16 seasons in Sidney Crosby. And the organization has sought to complement its generational talent by finding other playmakers to add to the roster since he has been a member of the black and gold. While he still has to improve his game in order to get to the NHL, his ability to create offense is a strength of his game.
“Broz possesses an incredibly high motor, and isn’t often disengaged from the play around the puck, regardless of which zone. He also has good vision, especially with the puck on his stick. Broz can execute a zone entry, open up his hips to maximize his puck distribution options, and seek out a high danger chance for a teammate.” (From: “Scouting Report: Tristan Broz,” by Paul Zuk, Smaht Scouting)
He can fit with the Penguins on the left wing of the second line and can contribute to the penalty-killing unit. His ability to play an effective two-way game is what makes him valuable to Sullivan’s system. He will look to pass the puck often on offense as he had 53 assists in two seasons with the Force and will remain opportunistic playing defense looking to create turnovers.
Broz will continue to refine his game in the NCAA at the University of Minnesota, as he has committed to playing for the Golden Gophers for the 2021-22 season. He needs to improve his consistency and his effort in order to make it to the NHL, and his potential is as a middle-six forward. His strengths may make him more of a fit for the wing position rather than center, but he can play a two-way game which is a valuable asset to possess, especially after being drafted by the Penguins. He has refinements to make to his game. But if he continues to improve, he has the tools to make it to the NHL and fit in with how Sullivan wants the team to play.
Matt covers the Philadelphia Flyers and the Pittsburgh Penguins for The Hockey Writers. Matt’s priority is to contribute exceptional content about the Flyers and Penguins for THW and its readers. To see more of Matt’s writing, visit his portfolio. For interview requests, follow Matt on Twitter that appears at the end of articles for THW.