Sometimes there’s a player who can get drafted, play overseas, and then come over and make a hockey club. Then there’s Jesper Bratt who did that and more by amazingly being added to the Devils roster and now five points later looks like he belongs.
Drafted in the sixth round of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft, Paul Castron’s scouting staff have found themselves the only six rounder from 2016 to crack an NHL lineup. That’s a pretty big deal.
At 5-10, 175, he has excellent speed. I had to go back to my notes from the 2016 U18’s to see that Bratt has the ability to go end-to-end as well as a player who can play in all situations and sets himself up into scoring position like pro. He also has a lot of hockey sense. We use that phrase a lot but in today’s NHL it’s vital.
The big break for him is that he’s actually getting power play time. With injuries to Kyle Palmieri and Drew Stafford, Bratt has stepped in and filled a very important role. Nobody except the Devils saw that coming.
Bratt’s shorthanded goal against the Sabres was brilliant. He buried the puck like a veteran. He has two short-handed points and five points in two games. Clearly, he won’t keep up this pace but as a solid penalty-killer, among his other talents, he has carved a spot for himself with this team even when the injured veterans return.
Bratt reminds me of John Madden in the sense that he’s filling a similar role to him that always was a hallmark of good Devils teams.
It’s a long hockey season but this Swede has been a nice surprise. He had three solid international tournaments against top talent in his peer group and a solid season in Allsvenskan. The second highest league in Sweden next to the SHL.
At 19, this prospect is the leader in the Calder Trophy race. Who had him before the season began? Clearly, nobody, but the trick will be can he stay in the race all season. It’s not impossible because he’s been playing his game all along it just took a while for everybody to notice.