Left Wing, Fargo Force(USHL)
6’0” 178 lbs.
Final NHL Central Scouting Rank: 28th among North American Skaters
Tristan Broz is a player that has rather quietly inched his way up the draft rankings throughout this past season. He moved from a projected mid-round pick to start the year to being ranked inside the top-30 by NHL Central Scouting in their final rankings, despite relatively little fanfare along the way.
In a way, that fits with Broz’ style of play. He may not be the most exciting player in the draft. But he’s a really solid all-around player with the skill to provide some offensive punch, and could end up as a really nice pick for the team that selects him.
What I Like
Normally when a scouting report talks about a player with great hands, it’s within the context of the player making some sort of crazy stickhandling move. There is a little bit of that in Broz’ game. But more important is his ability to win puck battles with his quick hands. His ability to pull pucks out of scrums, break up plays defensively with a strong stick, and win 50/50 battles for the puck is outstanding.
I also love his ability to handle tough passes. There’s an old scouting adage that what separates an NHL player from a minor leaguer is how well they can handle a puck passed into their skates, and Broz checks that box. If the puck comes near him, it’s almost a guarantee it will leave with his team having possession.
I watched a lot of Fargo in their Clark Cup championship series against the insanely talented Chicago Steel and Broz did an excellent job playing safe, disciplined defensive hockey, which slowed down the Steel attack as well as anyone was able to this year.
I also loved his effort on the backcheck. He’s a legit two-way forward that can make plays on both ends of the ice. Even though this play didn’t quite work out, he covers some serious distance to get involved in the play.
-Attacks the middle of the ice
Broz is really crafty at changing speeds and manipulating gaps off the rush to get into the middle of the ice. That breaks down defenses and opens up scoring chances for teammates.
On this play, he gets to the center of the ice and shows nice vision to find a streaking teammate for a quality chance.
And another rush where he finds his way to the center of the ice to create an open shot for a teammate.
On this play, he lowers his shoulder and drives hard to the net to create a scoring chance for himself.
What I Don’t Like
While Broz is very good when he gets some space to work with on the offensive rush, he doesn’t really have the foot speed and acceleration to create plays in tight areas. He’s most effective when he can win pucks in the defensive zone, or set up on the perimeter in the offensive zone and then feed pucks to a speedier teammate. He was paired much of the year with Buffalo Sabres pick Aaron Huglen, a terrific skater that can push the play, and they developed a nice chemistry. He’s a terrific complementary player, but doesn’t really drive play.
I’d expect that to improve a little bit as he matures physically and adds some more strength, but it’s still likely to be his hands that carry him to the next level rather than his feet.
Broz is one of the more unique players in terms of style of play, and I think that might be polarizing for NHL teams. Some teams will see the great stick and smart two-way play and see that translating to the next level. Other teams are likely to be scared off by a guy that isn’t really driving the play at the junior level.
Central Scouting places him 28th among NA skaters, which probably translates to early second round once you factor in Europeans. That’s certainly a possibility if a team really likes him, but I would tend to lean more towards late-second/early-third as more likely, just because I don’t think his ceiling is as high as some of the other prospects likely to be available earlier in the second round.
Broz isn’t likely to develop into a flashy offensive star, but he’ll be a reliable winger. He’ll be a second or third line type of player that takes care of his own end of the ice, and can help facilitate an offensive attack.
Broz is committed to play college hockey at the University of Minnesota. He could join the Gophers next season, or play another year of USHL hockey in Fargo. He’s probably accomplished all he is going to in the USHL, though Minnesota should have a very deep group of forwards next year, which may limit his ice time a bit. Regardless, it’s probably a minimum of two to three years before the team that drafts him thinks about signing him. He’ll need the time to develop a little more physically, and to earn a bigger role at the college level.