Coming in at #28 is Brett Howden, a 6’3″, 195-pound center for the Moose Jaw Warriors of the WHL.
Scouts like his family pedigree; his brother Quinton Howden was a first round pick in 2010 for the Florida Panthers. They also like his coaching pedigree; Tim Hunter, head coach of Moose Jaw and former long-time NHLer. Howden’s been in a great developmental environment, with lots of ice time, good teammates, good coaches, and lots of good influences. He’s sponged it all up.
Unusual for his age, he’s a true three-zone, 200-foot player. He works hard in his own end and uses his size to win puck battles along the boards and in the corners. He’s dedicated to back-checking, covers passing lanes, blocks shots, forces would-be attackers to the perimeter – a coach’s dream. In the offensive zone, you’ll find him winning battles in front of the net in order to set up tip-ins and rebounds. He doesn’t have a great first step, but he has good top-end speed and is an agile skater. He uses his size and long reach well to protect the puck and to create space for scoring and passing opportunities. He complements his physical play with excellent vision and hockey sense, as well as accurate passing and a good wrist shot.
Howden is a very complete player, but like Jacob Moverare, he’s good at a lot of things but doesn’t excel at any of them. As with Moverare, this dampens his top-end projection, and Howden is projected to be a second-line center. Coaches and scouts would like him to pick one or two aspects of his game to excel at, which he’ll need to do if we wants to make it onto an NHL roster. They’d also like him to keep his skates moving more away from the puck. At the same time, he’s taken full advantage of his developmental opportunities and has grown a lot as a player, and that development should continue at the NHL developmental level.