The Blue Jackets continue to return to the University of Michigan when searching for top prospects. With several former Wolverines already in the NHL/AHL, there is still one more future Jacket playing up there, and he’s a good one: forward Gavin Brindley.
After selecting Adam Fantilli third overall at last summer’s NHL Draft, the Jackets went right back to digging in the U of M mines in the very next round, picking Brindley 34th overall. If you’re a Jackets fan at any level, you’ve surely seen the video of Fantilli greeting him on the draft floor with a hug. Make no mistake about it: they didn’t pick Brindley just to make Fantilli feel good. This guy can play.
Look no further than his start to the NCAA season. Through 12 games, he already has 9 goals, tying him for second in the nation. He’s excelling at only 19 years old; with the player ahead of him being 20, and the player he’s tied with 24. He’s added 6 assists so far, and sits fourth overall in scoring for the Wolverines. We had him fifth in our organizational prospect rankings this summer, and he’ll be moving up that list for sure.
Gavin Brindley with the snipe! pic.twitter.com/TiSKM3yyOP
— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) November 4, 2023
At just 5’9″ and a hair short of 170 pounds, Brindley plays a surprisingly physical checking style. He likes to get in on the forecheck, separate the opposition from the puck, then uses his speed and skill to generate offense. He’s also willing to go to the tough areas with the puck on his stick; where he can either use his smooth hands or quick release to score goals.
The most impressive thing about Gavin, in my opinion, is his work ethic. He never gives up on a puck, taking the extra step or two to make sure he gets the touch into the right area. He’s a tireless worker, and when you combine that with his overall skill, he’s an electrifying player to watch. In the video below, his pass is picked off. But, watch as he makes the second effort to poke it to a teammate and keep the play going:
Two-for-two on the power play! pic.twitter.com/dLgWsk4wZ6
— Michigan Hockey (@umichhockey) November 11, 2023
The above example is why I think he will be an NHL player, whether his offense translates over or not. He’s the kind of guy that coaches love to have on the team. Speedy, really strong, and hard working. At the very least, I think he’ll be a bottom-six guy who can play in all situations. But, if that offense translates over, he could be a very high end top-six player, the perfect kind of guy to compliment players like Kent Johnson and Adam Fantilli.
Keep an eye on Brindley for this year’s World Junior Championships as well. He was on Team USA last season, where he scored 1 goal and 4 points in 7 games. I think he’ll be one of the premier forwards for the team this go-round, and he could quietly be a big standout for any team in the tournament. I really like this pick for the Jackets. Safe, but with a ton of upside.