Player: Brock Faber, Defenseman, US National Team Development Program
Measurables: 6’0” 194 lbs., Right Shot
2019-2020 stats: 46 games, 3 goals, 9 assists, 12 points
Brock Faber took one of the more unique routes to this year’s draft class. Faber is an August birthdate, which put him in the weird three-month gray area of being eligible to play Bantams in 2017-2018(Minnesota’s age cutoff is six months later than the rest of the country due to the supremacy of high school hockey), yet still be eligible for the 2020 Draft. Usually, any player with the talent to get drafted in their first year of eligibility would be playing high school hockey as a ninth grader—Nick Bjugstad is an example that comes to mind. But even though Faber would have easily made Maple Grove’s high school team as a freshman, he opted to play a second year of Bantam hockey with an absolutely Osseo-Maple Grove team that was among the best bantam teams in years in the state of Minnesota.
Despite playing at a lower level, Faber’s talent was so immense that he still earned an invite to the NTDP program despite only playing bantam hockey, becoming one of the first in program history to do so. After two good years with The Program, he is set to be selected in this year’s NHL Draft.
What I Like:
Footwork-Faber’s skating, specifically his footwork and agility is off-the-charts good. He definitely has the athleticism to play at the NHL level.
Moves the puck effectively- People think there is this huge divide between analytics number nerds and people that go watch hockey games. But usually, one just confirms the other. That appears to be the case here, with some of the analytics on Faber backing up what I’ve seen in my viewings:
Here's a little tidbit I came across in my research ahead of an appearance on The Pipeline show with @TPS_Guy:— /Cam Robinson/ (@Hockey_Robinson) August 19, 2020
In tracked games, transition darling, Brock Faber completed 83 percent of his passes. He also refuses to dump the puck in or out
He's going to make a team very happy
I really like Faber’s ability to skate the puck out of his zone and maintain possession by moving the puck to teammates. It’s something easier said than done and not everyone can do. With teams beginning to invest more in high-tech stat tracking, Faber could present value than he appears to a more casual viewer.
What I Don’t Like:
Lack of scoring upside-For a player whose game relies on skating and puck movement, Faber isn’t a particularly skilled offensive defenseman. He scored 27 points in 103 games with the National Development Program. That’s by no means terrible, and there are other ways to contribute, which he does, but he doesn’t project as a high-scoring defenseman that is going to run a power play at the pro level.
Defensive positioning-You could say this about almost any 18-year-old defenseman, but I think that is especially the case here with a player that is a little younger, and has been able to get away with being a little more aggressive throughout his career because he had the skating ability to recover. But in some of the games I saw him play against college teams this past season, those positioning mistakes get punished with quality scoring chances. Again, it’s not uncommon for defensemen at that age and it’s going to be a process to develop those instincts, but it is something that will need to be developed.
Was he trending up or down before *gestures* all of this?:
Prospects get put under the microscope in their NHL draft year and the finer details of their game get picked apart in much greater detail by scouts. For many players, this spells trouble as little things that may not be initially apparent come to the surface. But in this case, I think it helped Faber’s case and saw him rise in the estimation of scouts throughout the year. As mentioned above, his scoring stats may not jump off the page, but when you start to dig deeper into his game, Faber does a lot of the little things to drive possession and move the puck up the ice which have a lot of value.
It’s also worth considering that he is one of the youngest players in this draft as an August birthdate. He came to the NTDP two years ago as a younger player with less high-level experience than some of his teammates, and saw his role increase over his time there as he grew more comfortable, which shows good upward trajectory.
Barring an offensive epiphany in his college career at Minnesota, I think what you see is what you’re likely to get from Faber as a pro. He projects as an extremely mobile, puck-moving defenseman. He’s unlikely to ever put up the offensive numbers that put him into stratosphere of elite defensemen in the league, but he could be a really solid piece as a second-pairing type of player that quietly makes a team better. The average fan may not think as much of him, but there is potential for the analytics guy to love him.
The first round is probably a stretch for Faber. That said, every year, there seems to be an NTDP player that sneaks into the first round(John Beecher, Trent Frederic, etc.), and if there is a type of player that NHL teams love to take a gamble on, it is extremely mobile defensemen. It’s not likely, but it wouldn’t be a complete shock if Faber snuck into the late first round. Some people see the lack of scoring numbers and rate him as more of a third round prospect, but I think most likely scenario is somebody grabs him in the mid-second round.
Faber originally committed to Notre Dame while he was playing Bantam hockey, but this past year, switched his commitment to play college hockey in his hometown for the University of Minnesota. As a later ‘02 birthday, Faber will be among the younger freshman in college hockey this season—assuming we get there. There was rumored to be some thought of him playing another year of juniors, or even possibly returning to high school hockey, but ultimately, he ended up with the Golden Gophers, where there appears to be a path to early playing time for him.
Minnesota returns two high NHL draft picks in Ryan Johnson(1st rd Buffalo) and Jackson LaCombe(2nd Anaheim), both sophomores that are more offensive defensemen who had the type of up-and-down freshman seasons one would expect from a young defenseman. They’ve got a pair of decent young, more defensively-inclined defensemen in Matt Staudacher and Ben Brinkman is well, but that still leaves room for Faber to earn a regular shift from the start.
The fact that this is going to be a weird, shortened season likely eliminates whatever small possibility of Faber being a one-and-done player. Faber will likely play two to three seasons at Minnesota before signing a pro contract.