Though hockey fans typically enjoy forwards of the flashier variety, for pure entertainment sake, two-way and defensive-minded forwards are crucial to the successful functioning of a good team.
In our next #AfterAuston profile, we will examine a player whose skill set, size and style of play allows him to do exactly that. Today, we will be profiling Brett Howden, centre for the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors.
Practically every scouting report written about Mr. Howden features the words “200-foot game”. Essentially, Howden is a strong, two-way player who is both offensively and defensively minded. At 6’2, he is a big player who uses his physical frame to his advantage during defensive play. He is able to win puck battles and isn’t afraid to take or throw hits along the boards. He plays a very simple game; he is certainly not a flashy player. Though his skill is not over the top, he is a very smart player. Howden is positionally sound and very opportunistic; he is able to anticipate the movement of the puck and properly positioning himself to pick up rebounds.
From ESPN’s Corey Pronman, who has Howden ranked at 32nd:
Howden skates very well
and displays an easy stride and great first step. He is a competitive, twoway
forward who hustles for pucks every shift. With his size, character and hockey
IQ, Howden is a very good defensive forward who has been leaned on by Moose
Jaw to play critical defensive minutes. He’s not a lightsout scorer, but he has
some scoring tools. He’ll show solid vision and shooting skills, though his hands
and creativity aren’t the best.
From Future Considerations, who have Howden ranked at 32nd as well:
Howden is a large-sized forward who can make an impact all over
the rink. He has tree-trunk legs and a powerful, yet swift, stride. His mobility and agility aren’t
hindered by his size as he transitions smoothly and has few detriments with his skating. He has
an intelligent offensive mind with a well-rounded skill set. Howden sees the ice well and knows a
moment ahead of the play what he has to do. He sees passing lanes develop and hits his mark
on a consistent basis.
Howden’s WHL numbers are certainly not fantastic; he scored at a 0.94PPG pace during the regular season. He had an excellent showing in the playoffs, scoring 15 points in 10 games before his Moose Jaw Warriors were eliminated in the second round. Howden also had an NHLe of 21 this season.
Let us take a look at Howden’s numbers pitted against those of Max Jones:
Howden’s GPS numbers are as follows:
|pGPS n||pGPS s||pGPS %||pGPS P/GP||pGPS R|
Though Howden’s pGPS % is not phenomenal at 31.67%, a player of his calibre can easily become a steal if he drops into the mid/late second round. Not to mention, 0.4756 pGPS P/GP isn’t too shabby.
Here’s a breakdown of Howden’s numbers via OilersNation:
19 similar players to Howden have played 200 or more games in the NHL. As well, there have been 60 statistically similar seasons to what Howden has had by other players. The PGPS has the young centre at a 31.67% chance of making the NHL. So what does this mean? Howden is your typical high second round pick. There is little risk in taking him because what you see is what you get.
SHOULD THE LEAFS BE INTERESTED?
Meh. Howden is definitely not a standout player in this year’s draft. He is what hockey media considers a “safe pick” – low risk and a decent upside. The best-case scenario for a player like Howden is a dynamic, second line centre on a decent team. He is not flashy, not overly skilled and not an offensive juggernaut.
Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that Howden could one day turn into a decent NHL player. His game is a little too incomplete for my liking; a few more years in Junior and maybe a season or two in the AHL would certainly be to his benefit.
If players like Vitali Abramov or Adam Mascherin are still available in the 29-31 range, I would likely take a pass on Howden.