The Golden Knights are just past the halfway point of the preseason and are off to another impressive start with a 4-1 record. One of the most talked about names to this point in training camp has been Erik Brannstrom, and it’s time to take a look at what Vegas’ 15th overall pick from the 2017 NHL Entry Draft brings to the table.
Ability to Make an Impact Early
The 19-year-old Swede had four shots in the Golden Knights’ 7-2 preseason opener against Arizona and made his ice time count. The SHL champion notched a goal and an assist and had the same totals against Colorado on three shots.
Brannstrom then made headlines last Saturday against San Jose, putting away the Sharks in the sixth round of a shootout to keep the VGK at a then-perfect 4-0 preseason record.
Head coach Gerard Gallant likes having options and has some in left-handed shooters Brannstrom and Jake Bischoff.
“They’ve both played [the right side] before and, when you’ve got a lot of left-handed shooting defenseman, you get the opportunities to play on opposite sides,” Gallant said, per the team’s website. “Both of those guys have done that over their careers. It really helps when you can play both sides and both of those guys can.”
An Elusive Set-Up Man
Brannstrom is an offensive-minded defenseman with speed and agility who likes to work the outside. HockeyProspect.com noted in 2017, “he relies on these skills heavily to evade opponents and create time and space.”
Brannstrom recorded 29 helpers in 2013-14 and then 30, 39, 30 and 28 in each season thereafter. Brannstrom’s total assists have been his highest statistic for the majority of his young career, and that has helped his Swedish teams make the playoffs four out of the last five seasons.
In combat sports, the knockout blow is the one that isn’t seen coming. Simply put, this developing teen can produce those kinds of plays.
Brännström will grow into more of a defensive player with training and time to physically grow, but definitely adds depth to the team. He may not have had his best performance against L.A. and in the second meeting with Colorado on Monday, but with this hot prospect on the ice, there’s no denying his uncanny ability to create offense.