Friday, June 4, 2010

First round draft spotlight: Brandon Gormley

Brandon Gormley, D Moncton Wildcats (QMJHL)
6-2, 187
Born:February 18, 1992 in Murray River, Prince Edward Island
Shoots: Left

Scouting report: Slick, mobile two-way defender who plays with a lot of confidence and poise is the best prospect to come out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this year.

Strengths: Superb, effortless skater who looks like he's gliding over air. Very good acceleration and recovery speed. Balanced and agile; adept at crossing over and keeping containment on speed to the outside; his footwork has improved since last year. Good hockey IQ; maintains gap control effectively and keeps the puck in front of him. Understands when to jump up into the play and when to stay home. Naturally sense the play's flow and goes to vulnerable areas of the ice on both offense and defense. Excellent on-ice vision and soft hands make him an accurate and effective passer. Keeps his head up and can spring the breakout with one good feed. Nice puckhandler who carries the biscuit with speed and confidence. Has a good point shot that is hard, low and finds its way through traffic. Also possesses an array of wrist and snap shots that he's not afraid to use, with a release that is tough for goaltenders to pick up. Productive from the blue line: 9 goals, 43 points in 58 games should substantially increase if he returns to junior next season. Has an almost zen-like calm and poise on the ice; doesn't often cough up the puck or succumb to forechecking pressure. Works hard and makes life easy on his coaches by responding to guidance and making adjustments to his game. Disciplined-- doesn't play selfishly and always puts his team first. Another mature, articulate, well-spoken prospect who carries himself well and not only plays like a top draft pick, but acts like one. Although Moncton had a disappointing 0-3 showing at the Memorial Cup in May, Gormley was the Wildcats' best player by a significant margin.

Weaknesses: Long, lean frame is going to require a lot of off-ice work to physically mature. Can play a physical game at times, but prefers to use his quick stick to break up plays rather than take the body-- a function perhaps of the lightness of his build. Several scouts have said that Gormley may be one of those 'tweener-type defenders at the NHL level: solid both on defense and offense, but not exceptional in either area-- more like a jack-of-all-trades, master-of-none.

Style compares to: Duncan Keith, Dan Hamhuis

Draft prediction: Fifth overall to the New York Islanders. When you have a chance to add a player of Gormley's caliber to an ever-growing prospect pool of impressive blue line talents like Calvin de Haan, Travis Hamonic, Mark Katic, Matt Donovan and Aaron Ness (just to name a few), you do it. Gormley would be the best player available and there is no need for GM Garth Snow and his staff to reach for another position of need, especially with a player in Gormley who is closer to Cam Fowler in terms of skill and upside than Eric Gudbranson is. The draft is about building assets and organizational strength, and Gormley coupled with de Haan gives the Isles one heck of a potential one-two punch as the foundation of a highly mobile, puck-moving pair down the road. Given the concerns about Rick DiPietro's health, perhaps Jack Campbell here would not be shocking surprise, but the Isles invested the first pick of the second round in Mikko Koskinen last year, and will likely invest some hopes that his hip problems are behind him and he's ready to move forward in the organization. Mikael Granlund is small, but he's the kind of playmaking wizard who could set up John Tavares all day long, and isn't a bad value at fifth as well. However, all things considered, if Gormley is on the board here, he makes the most sense. Also in the mix are the rumors that the Bruins have taken a particular shine to Gormley and are trying to figure out how to trade into the top-five from fifteen to get him. That's going to be very hard to do because a team closer to five isn't going to want to trade ten or more spots back without some serious pot-sweetening. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find out that Gormley is Boston's No. 1 defenseman on their draft list-- he seems to have all the qualities they look for, but whether they'd be willing to give up an awful lot to come away with not only Hall/Seguin, but Gormley as well remains to be seen and will be worth discussing right up to the big day.

Projection: Potential No. 1, solid No. 2/3 NHL defenseman and All-Star with 50-point upside. I know this sounds a lot like the Fowler and Gudbranson profiles, but Gormley is right there with them in terms of his potential. Even if he doesn't develop into a high-end point producer, Gormley will play in the NHL for a long time because of his mobility, hockey sense and grace under pressure. He's a solid middle-tier 'D' at worst, but will probably be a lot more than that because he has so many other intangibles working for him.

Background: 1st overall selection of the Moncton Wildcats in the 2008 QMJHL Midget Draft. Parents are Darren and Sharon Gormley. Left home at age 14 to play for the Notre Dame College Hounds (AAA) in Wilcox, Saskatchewan whose alumni inlcude Rod Brind A'mour,Curtis Joseph,Vincent Lecavalier and Boston prospect Jordan Caron. A member of Team Canada's gold medal squad at the 2009 Ivan Hlinka tournament in August. Won the 2009-10 Mike Bossy Trophy as the QMJHL's Top Pro Prospect. Hockey idols are Nicklas Lidstrom and Brad Richards (fellow Notre Dame alum and P.E. Islander)


"He has size (6-foot-2, 187 pounds), he skates very well, he’s smart and poised with the puck. He can feather some great passes on the tape through the middle to set up guys in the clear. He’s reliable in all areas, and has confidence.”- NHL Central Scouting Quebec scout Chris Bordeleau to; February, 2010

"He's got a laid-back personality. He's got the maturity of a 30 year old. Take away hockey -- he's just a rock-solid young man.He was the first overall pick here and when he came in he was so quiet, so unassuming, so humble you couldn't tell if he was the first overall player and a player projected as a franchise player, or a free-agent walk-on who hitchhiked into camp."- Moncton head coach Danny Flynn to; February, 2010

"He's been under the microscope for so long that he's really done a great job at learning how to control the things that you can control. His parents are tremendous hockey parents, they're real laid back, there's no expectations or pressures put on him at home. They've taken it all in stride and not get overwhelmed by it and I think there's been a carryover effect for him."- Moncton head coach Danny Flynn to Hockey's Future; May, 2010

"I think I made a pretty smooth entry. Like I said, it’s a really good league. I got a chance to play with Mark Barberio and he is one of the best defenseman in our league here now. Coming into the league at 16, not a lot of guys get to play with a guy at the caliber like that, so he made my transition easier. Last year, like I said, I was playing against older, bigger, stronger players and your size at 16 is not up to the par with 19/20 year olds so that was a challenge. "- Brandon Gormley to; March, 2010

The Scoop:

Gormley Coveted, But Not Likely For B's


  1. How would you compare him to my old fave, Shaone Morrisonn?

  2. Wow, that Islanders defence is shaping up to be one of the best young D in hockey, especially if they add one of the studs this year.

  3. No comparison. Morrisonn was never a top prospect coming out of bantam/midget, but developed into a first-round prospect in Kamloops.

    Gormley has been an outstanding player and targeted as a top NHL prospect since Moncton spent the first overall QMJHL pick on him two years ago.

    Much better player, IMO...not as tall, but better overall player with a much bigger offensive upside.

  4. I guess I was asking more about a style comparison. Your comments about Gormley's skating, thin frame, and questions about his offensive potential reminded me of Morrisonn. Is Morrisonn sort of a poor man's Gormley?

  5. No-- Morisonn is a bad comparison altogether.

    ShaMo has become a mobile shutdown 4th/5th/6th defenseman at the NHL level-- nothing more. Good guy and solid role player, but he never fulfilled the offensive potential that the B's (and Caps) thought he possessed. Hell-- if you can't score from the blue line on a team like Washington, you're not going to do it for anyone.

    Gormley is much more offensively gifted than Morrisonn, so set the bar a little higher on this one. He's not as tall, but he can do a lot more at the junior level than Morrisonn, and as such, is ranked near the top of the draft class.

    Morrisonn was taken 19th overall in a year that he was expected to be a 2nd-round selection. He had some interesting potential, but nine years later, never developed the way the Bruins hoped when they took him there. Gormley has been performing at a higher level in his two years of junior, whereas Morrisonn really came on in his draft year and was a bit of a surprise pick when Boston grabbed him.

    I just don't see any real similarities with the two players at all other than the fact that they have lean builds and nice wheels. But Gormley seems like so much of a more refined player at this stage.

  6. Got it. How steep of a drop do you see from the three d-men you've just profiled to the players the Bruins might see at 15?

  7. Not as steep a drop between Gormley and Derek Forbort, but Forbs is much more raw and will need at least 2-3 maybe even 4 full years at North Dakota, IMO. His upside is very high, though.

    However, once you get past Forbort, then you're clearly in another tier. Dylan McIlrath, for example, is arguably the next guy. Toughness in spades, but the upside is questionable and he may be a No. 4 at best, yet possible a team could grab him as early as 15.

    Forbort's Under-18 teammate Justin Faulk is another guy who is veeerry interesting to me. I think he's one of the most underrated 'D' in the draft if not THE most underrated guy out there and could be a nice option at 15 if you're bold, but would be an amazing value at 32 if he slipped.

    Jon Merrill, Jarred Tinordi, Alex Petrovic and Matt Mackenzie all look like 2nd-round options to me. Solid, but all bring something different to the table, with none of them being high-enders.

  8. Mark Pysyk's in that 2nd/3rd tier too, but not a big fan of his.