Tampa Bay Lightning

Brayden Point Enjoying Breakout Season

(Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

Brayden Point has always been an interesting subject for debate. The diminutive forward has produced lofty numbers in the WHL over the course of his major junior hockey career but he has never quite become a household name. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s third-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft has improved steadily throughout his now five-year WHL campaign (if you count the 2012 WHL playoffs) and he made headlines at the Under-20 World Junior Tournament last season but he hardly gets the recognition he deserves.

Clearly, he’s on a mission to change that this season.

A natural right-handed center, Point currently leads the WHL in scoring with 39 points in just 16 games; he’s also currently second in goals-scored with 16 (behind the Swift Current Broncos’ Jon Martin’s 19) and in assists with 23 (behind the Lethbridge Hurricanes’ Brayden Burke’s 24). He was named the WHL Player of the Month for the month of October as a result of his hot start. Most recently, however, he scored three goals and two assists for his first five-point game of the season in the Warriors’ 6-4 victory against Prince Albert on Saturday.

Moose Jaw selected Point with their 14th overall pick in the 2011 WHL Bantam Draft. After completing his final midget hockey season in 2011-12, he joined the Warriors for the final five games of their regular-season, scoring his first WHL goal in the process. He then took off like no one had expected, scoring seven goals and three assists in 14 playoff games. It was quite the feat at the time considering the fact that he technically should not have even been playing WHL hockey that year (due to eligibility restrictions specific to the WHL).

In his true rookie season (2012-13) with the Warriors, Point tallied a respectable 57 points in 67 games. His draft year saw him dress for all 72 games and he ended up scoring a career-high 91 points, followed by an 87-point campaign in the 2014-15 season (in just 60 games). What’s most incredible, though, is that he is technically on pace for a 175-point season – if he were to appear in all 72 games and keep up this scoring rate.

Point was a surprise addition to Canada’s U20 WJC squad last season, a move that proved to be very valuable to both player and team alike. Point was floated up and down the lineup, seeing time as a top-six winger as well as a bottom-six center. He scored two goals and two assists in seven games, helping Team Canada re-claim the gold medal for the first time in several years.

Now, in his last season of junior-eligibility, Point is considered the best in the WHL. In fact, he’s been so good that he’s forcing other teams to form their game-plans around him.

We all consider him the best player in the league. We respect him like that, but you have to treat him like that.You have to make their team start from 200 feet, especially when he’s on the ice, so you have numbers back and you have time to be in position. When he does get it, there only needs to be one guy going to him. You have to look around for late guys because he’s a dynamic player who can score but if somebody gets 10 feet away from (ex-Pat) Dryden (Hunt) you know the puck is going to go there and it’s probably going in the net. You have to take care of guys without the puck when he has it.

– Regina Pats head coach and GM John Paddock

Point is currently a captain for Team WHL–part of the CHL Canada Russia Series–in which he has scored a goal and two assists in just one game. He is also the captain of the fifth-place Moose Jaw Warriors in what is currently a tight Eastern Conference.

Point will be heading back to the U20 WJC this December in what will be his final year of World Junior-eligibility; he’s almost a guaranteed top-six forward for Canada, with the potential to push for a top-line spot.

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