When the Leafs traded their 24th overall pick in the 2015 draft to move down, I was a little upset. Others questioned the move too – with Travis Konecny still on the board, why not take him and run away laughing? But I was sad for a different reason – TLN favourite Jeremy Bracco was still available, and he most certainly wouldn’t be by the time the Leafs picked again. Or so I thought.
When it got to the Leafs 34th overall pick, I expected them to call Bracco’s name. With that pick, the Leafs took Travis Dermott
, once again breaking my heart. But then finally…pick #61. Mark Hunter calls Bracco’s name, and he is a Leaf. Pure euphoria. For me. I am sure it was great for Bracco and his family as well.
The TLN staff rated Bracco as high as 4 and as low as 10 in the prospect rankings. And it’s easy to see why there is a variance in his ranking. A small kid at 5’10 and 165 pounds, Bracco has a seemingly infinite amount of skill, in addition to a solid two-way game. Bracco represents that “swing for the fences” type of pick that the Leafs were often too afraid to make in the past. Some would call him a “boom or bust” pick, but I don’t think his range of outcome is that large – it’s just whether or not he becomes a top 6 NHL forward or lower.
ESPN’s Corey Pronman is a fan of Bracco’s, ranking him as the 39th best prospect
in the NHL, after putting him as the 16th best prospect in the 2015 class.
Bracco ended up being selected 61st overall despite one of the best seasons ever by an NTDP player. Sure he’s very small, but he’s dynamic and skates well — with good speed and elite edge work. His skill/hockey sense IQ is also high-end. Bracco, despite his size, has frequently shown he’s an effective defensive player and a shorthanded threat. One quote from a Michigan-based scout stood out to me on Bracco this year: “I’ve watched nearly every game of his for the past two years; I don’t remember one bad one. He’s remarkably consistent.”
had him ranked as their 22nd best prospect in the 2015 draft and say that Bracco is “A very gifted passer who sees lanes develop and is patient to hit them. Will take a beating if it means he is putting his team in scoring position. Wears his heart on his sleeve and does not quit no matter the circumstances.”
After a lengthy decision, Bracco is attending Boston College this year, choosing it instead of playing for the Kitchener Rangers. This is rather fitting, as Boston College is responsible for helping groom other small NHL players like Johnny Gaudreau, Cam Atkinson, and Brian Gionta. If Bracco can be a name that fits into that group, that’ll be great for the Leafs.
It’s going to be really exciting to keep an eye on Jeremy Bracco this season. He dominated the NTDP, and hopefully he does the same in Boston. It feels odd to be excited about the potential coming from the third player picked by the Leafs in a draft. It’s looking like Toronto’s first swing for the fence might be a home run.