I am a sucker for same fancy footwork. From Jeff Skinner to Travis Dermott, edges win my heart. This is no different when it comes to Jeremy Bracco. From when the Leafs drafted him, I have always been hoping that he could live up to the hype that I’ve set in my mind. The thing to ask, realistically, is what do the Leafs really have in their former 2nd round pick?
This description for Elite Prospects soundly informs on what Bracco is all about: “Bracco has great vision and is an excellent passer. Also a creative skater; uses his edgework to deceive defenders and create space to make plays.
(Peter Oundjian)”. Ah, yes, this is what everyone likes to hear, or maybe it’s just me. Bracco isn’t the fastest skater out there, rather he uses his edges to gain the upper hand on defenders. Instead of going on and on about his edges, I’ll let the eye-test do that for me, because really, I could go on all day about it.
Skating: the most obvious highlight of his skating came at 1:39 in the above video. As you can see, Bracco collects the puck in the corner and through a series of shifts on the defenders, he essentially does a lap of the offensive zone repeatedly drawing in the defenders and losing them through a quick shift.
Another good look into his edges comes at 10:53 when Bracco performs a number of shifts on the poor Erie Otters defense. These series of shifts lead to three defenders being drawn into him and an easy centering pass.
Perhaps my favorite part of this video is the comment section. Here is one particular thread which is amazing:
Bracco = Skinner = Crosby confirmed.
As a discussion on his vision and passing could be a whole another post, you can watch the whole 12 ish minute video to see the series of highlights from his 16-17 junior year. My love for skating like his made me call that particular aspect of his game out. Now onto his actual numbers, which are a really good tell as to how good he is.
I decided to include his numbers to date from his first year in which he participated in a world tournament. As you can see Bracco has always put up good numbers. As you can see, the most impressive year he’s had has been the one we are currently in. As a 21 year old he is putting up numbers just shy of a PPG, and tied for 13th in the league. He is just exploding this year, the common healthy scratch in the Calder last year already surpassing his previous seasons point totals. He’s a dynamic passer, as can be seen in his career in the OHL and AHL but he can also let go a sharp wrister go if the need arises. He plays an extremely similar game to Marner, although to a much lesser degree. He’s a “pass first” player who will almost never shoot, and unlike Marner, he likely benefits from passing first more than Mitch, as his shot is no where near as dangerous.
This year in the AHL, Bracco currently sits in 22nd for P/GP (with a minimum of 20 GP), sitting just under 1.0 at 0.97. Bracco’s most common linemates are Timashov and Mueller, and any questions on his ability to drive play are negated when you see that Bracco is achieving 0.79 P1/GP (good for 18th overall). To further reinforce his playmaking ability, Bracco slides up to 2nd overall in primary assists with 0.58/GP. Context aside, I will finally get into the point of this article..
Right behind Bracco in terms of A1/GP this year is Brandon Pirri. Pirri has put up a similar 0.55 A1/GP, but that’s where the comparison ends as Pirri scores just as much as he assists.. seriously how has he been sent down this often? It’s pretty clear there isn’t a great comparable from just this year, so time to look further back.
Moving back just one year, using the same restrictions as before (simply just >20 GP), right at the top of the list lies a player whose numbers look almost identical to Bracco, which belong to notable Cane, Lucas Wallmark. He recorded 0.6 A1/GP, although in his 45 GP, he put up 1.22 P/GP, which is very likely much more than Bracco will have by the time he reaches that point. In total, Wallmark tallied 27 primary assists, while Bracco to date has tallied 22 in seven less games, so, not impossible that Bracco reaches that point. Wallmark has spent the entire year with the Canes so far, centering their second line (yeah, probably less than ideal tbh), tallying 14 pts in his 45 GP. Much less is needed from Bracco though, as he’s more needed as a depth option on the wing, not second line center. Not a bad comparable, to be honest.
Since the 2009-2010 season, only Conor Sheary, Ryan Strome, Keith Aucoin (!!!), David Desharnais, and Cal O’Reilly have put up more primary assists than Bracco is currently achieving. Basically, what I am getting at is that there is no easy comparable to Bracco based on this year. Based on the rate at which he is putting up points, it seems quite likely that Bracco can be a great depth player for the Leafs, adding a tonne of skill to the bottom-six of the lineup. It’s quite unlikely that he becomes more than that, yet his playmaking ability could keep improving as it has been over the past few years and he could prove me wrong and become more. The Leafs will be in dire need of cheap, depth players, and it seems that Bracco should slot right into those needs.. provided that he is not included in one of the many deals theorized, such as the one of these:
** As Nielsen is no longer a Leaf, it is safe to say that Bracco would slot into his place for each trade Nielsen in attached to