Moose Jaw centerman Brett Howden is looking to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Quinton, who also played for the Warriors, and was a first round draft selection of the Florida Panthers in 2010. After a strong WHL season, capped off by an impressive performance for Team Canada at the World U18 Championships, in which he joined the team late, but still managed eight points in six games, the younger Howden looks almost certain to also be selected in the first round.
Player: Brett Howden
Team: Moose Jaw Warriors(WHL)
Height: 6'2" Weight: 192 lbs.
Stats: 68 games, 24 goals, 40 assists, 64 points, -7
Final NHL Central Scouting rank: 22nd among North American skater
What I Like:
Howden is a hard worker that makes a ton of plays on both the offensive and defensive end through sheer effort and grittiness. In this clip below, he makes a nice pass catch at the blue line, feeds a teammate, then drives hard to the net and is rewarded with a rebound putback goal.
Howden's style of play is a rare combination of good size, skill and the skating and intelligence to play the center position. He's a really versatile player that could potentially be used in any situation.
Howden served as an alternate captain for Moose Jaw this year, which is fairly rare for a 17-year-old player. He also captained Team Canada at last summer's Ivan Hlinka Tournament, as well as serving as an alternate captain for his team at both the World Under-17 Challenge, and for Team Manitoba at the Under-16 national tournament.
What I Don't Like:
-Doesn't Play East-West
Howden keeps the game very simple, playing a straightforward north-south style of hockey. He's not as dynamic of an offensive threat as a result. He relies on working hard and fighting through traffic to win loose pucks rather than creating offense on his own, which limits his offensive capabilities.
-Lacks Elite Skill
Howden's profile is remarkably similar to his older brother Quinton, a first round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2010. The older Howden has gone on to be a decent player for the Panthers, but hasn't really established himself as a big scorer.
The younger Howden is a solid all-around player, but might lack the elite skills to make to be anything more than a serviceable player at the NHL level rather than a real difference-maker.
Howden is 23rd overall on my personal list. Central Scouting has him 22nd among North American skaters. He's a fairly safe bet to be selected somewhere between 20th-30th overall in the first round. I can't see him going much higher than 20th given the talent on the board, but he seems to be one of the last true consensus first rounders, so it would be a surprise to see him slip outside of the top 30.
Howden is a player that should provide some value even if he isn't able to improve enough offensively to be a top six forward at the NHL level. His compete level, combined with his size and ability to play up the middle would make him valuable even in a third or fourth line role, with the upside of potentially being a second line center at his best.