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2014 NHL Draft Prospect: Brandon Montour

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The Player

Brandon Montour

Defenseman

Waterloo Blackhawks(USHL)

2013-2014 stats: 60 games 14 goals 48 assists 62 points.

Height: 5'11.5" Weight: 174 lbs.

Final NHL Central Scouting ranking: 93rd among NA skaters

What are his strengths? Weaknesses?

Montour is a pure offensive defenseman that loves to use his strong skating ability to join the rush. He plays a very high-risk/high-reward style of game, but yielded much more reward than risk this year, with an impressive +35(6th best in USHL) +/- rating. He's also an accomplished lacrosse player and he carries that athleticism over to the ice very well.

The concern is that he might rely on that outstanding athleticism a little too much. He can take himself out of defensive position to join in the offense attack and still have the ability to recover defensively at the USHL level; he might not be able to do that against the best athletes in the world at the NHL level.

How was his draft year? Trending up or down?

Montour is a '94 birthdate in his last year of draft eligibility. Prior to this year, he was a virtual unknown toiling in the lower ranks of Ontario junior hockey. He just happened to be noticed by a scout in the building to watch another player and Waterloo took a flyer on him in the 18th round of the USHL Draft. Since then, Montour has been one of the most exciting defensemen in the USHL. His 62 points in 60 games made him the highest-scoring defenseman in the league, 18 points more than the next highest-scoring defenseman on the list. He showed up at 186th in Central Scouting's mid-term rankings, and moved all the way up to 93rd in their final rankings.

Draft projection?

Montour continued his strong season by leading the USHL playoffs in scoring after the final Central Scouting rankings came out, so there's no reason to believe he won't continue his climb up the draft rankings. He appears to be a kid that has the talent, but just needed the opportunity to showcase that talent. It would be surprising if Montour was still available by the end of the third round, with the possibility that he could go in the second round.

Pro upside?

Much like his style of play, Montour is high-risk/high-reward as a prospect. If he can continue to fly all over the ice and produce offense without sacrificing defense, the sky is the limit. He could be a top pairing offensive-defenseman and power play quarterback, provided that he was paired with a defensive-minded partner. There's not a ton of middle ground though. If Montour's swashbuckling style isn't effective at the pro level, he'll drive coaches and fans nuts with his defensive mistakes.

Where will he go next?

Montour will play college hockey next season for the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Because he's an older player, he's a little farther along on the development curve than some of the other draft picks in this year's draft, which means he's a little closer to being pro ready. It might take him a year to adjust to the college game, but should things go according to plan, he'll likely be ready to take a serious shot at the pros in two to three years.