Brandon Davidson was taken in the bowels of the 2010 entry draft and despite a famous back story and incredible obstacles overcome since then, was not perceived as being a front line talent. As recently as this summer, his lot in life appeared to be as a fringe prospect. What happened? Well, in one of those stories that appears too good to be true (but we have witnessed), Brandon Davidson has emerged as a bona fide NHL prospect of some promise. Why do I have him No. 8 overall on the Winter List? I had no choice. He belongs here.
PREVIOUSLY NO. 8 ON THE WINTER LIST
- December 2004: D Matt Greene (589)
- December 2005: D Tom Gilbert (614)
- December 2006: L Alexei Mikhnov (2)
- December 2007: L Slava Trukhno (0)
- December 2008: C Chris VandeVelde (139)
- December 2009: D Taylor Chorney (79)
- December 2010: L Linus Omark (79)
- December 2011: L Curtis Hamilton (1)
- December 2012: D David Musil (4)
- December 2013: D Dillon Simpson (0)
- December 2014: D Dillon Simpson (0)
The two defensemen who were prospects one decade ago stand out on this list, and many of those 1,200 NHL games have been played for other NHL teams. There’s a lesson there. Chris Vande Velde and Taylor Chorney have won NHL careers in the ‘hey, look at that’ category and recent entries are still writing their own stories.
WHAT THEY SAID ON DRAFT DAY
- Red Line: One of the most intriguing prospect stories in the draft is that of Brandon Davidson. After being unable to afford AAA hockey, Davidson flew under the radar playing AA, and only started getting some legitimate exposure last season. Fast forward to today, and Davidson has established himself as a strong defenseman for the Regina Pats who has not only played tremendous defense, but also chipped in on offense as well. Given his unheralded path, it’s tough to forecast how much more potential is left in the tank, but he’s certainly deserving of a Top 60 pick at this point.
- Mike Remmerde: I usually like late bloomers who come out of nowhere, but this guy’s skating bothers me too much. Has big trouble with pivots. But he’s got really good hockey sense and is a very good puck mover. Probably goes way higher than I like, but if somehow he lasted until the 5th round, I might be interested.
- ISS: Davidson was listed by the Pats after last seasons Mac’s Midget Tournament. He has not missed a beat and has added some offensive flair to the Pat d-core. He moves the puck very well and is a key contributor to the PP. He has great mobility and vision with the puck. He has made an easy and smooth transition from Midget AAA to the WHL. Not often is there an 18 yr old rookie who has the impact that Davidson has had this season.
- Davidson: “It was an emotional thing. It was hard to get back mentally and physically. The chemotherapy drained me physically. But to come back and even have the opportunity to play last year was great, because I thought I was done for the year. It was great to come back at the end of the year and prove that I belong. It was a good end to the season for me personally, just being able to play so well.” Source
- Summer 2010: Not Ranked
- Winter 2010: No. 18
- Summer 2011: No. 16
- Winter 2011: No. 15
- Summer 2012: No. 21
- Winter 2012: No. 21
- Summer 2013: No. 16
- Winter 2013: No. 22
- Summer 2014: No. 23
- Winter 2014: No. 21
- Summer 2015: No. 24
- Winter 2015: No. 8
This is Davidson’s first time inside the Top 10 prospects and he’s been eligible for 12. My list focuses on range of skills and prefers offensive players to defensive, so Davidson’s skill set is always going to be punished. His emergence this fall as a more complete player is part of his surge, but there’s also an element of his overall game that has me convinced (mostly) we’re dealing in a player who has been overlooked in the past. That said, my list over the years has seen ebbs and flows in terms of ranking, but the numbers nailed this player as a fringe type. Could he return to that level, making this ranking look silly a year or two from now? Absolutely. Still, the evidence is pretty impressive.
David Staples, Cult of Hockey (spring): In the first three games of the AHL playoffs, all OKC wins over the San Antonio Rampage, Davidson has played dominating two-way hockey and even been granted power play time in an interesting role, being asked to screen the goalie with his 6-foot, 2-inch, 215-pound frame. Source
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 1, 2015
- Brandon Davidson: “I’ve had to change my thought process, being in and out of the lineup as much as I have been. Patience is huge, especially for a guy who doesn’t have much patience. But at the same time it’s better for me here. It’s been tremendous. I’d much rather be here than Bakersfield. I’m learning more here every day than I ever have.” Source
- Todd McLellan: “He’s practised well. He has size and he can skate. If he can retrieve pucks we can beat their forecheck, that’s all we’re going to ask of him.” Source
- Lowetide, Nov. 2015: Brandon Davidson also has a nice range of skills, and the minor league experience so few of these young men get in the modern world. A cup of coffee in the ECHL and basically two full seasons in the AHL have given Davidson a chance to learn the trade. A lesson here, methinks. We should also allow for the usual ups and downs and agree that we don’t actually know what the Oilers have in Davidson. A very low draft pick (No. 162 in 2010, he’s the last NHL piece standing from the Lubo for Ryan Whitney deal) who has shown extremely well in limited play this year, one hopes we hold back from gushing too much and allow the young man to find his place on the roster. He’s 23 games into his NHL career folks. Early days indeed. Still, very encouraging and it behooves the Oilers to play him every night until he’s either established or finds his way to the pressbox due to his own play. 11GP, 2-2-4 and his 17:24 ranks him No. 8 among rookie defensemen in TOI. Source
5×5 points per 60: 0.74 No. 3 among defensemen
5×4 points per 60: 7.19 No. 2 among defensemen
Qual Comp: No. 5 among D’s
Qual Team: No. 2 among D’s
Corsi Rel: 13.9 No. 1 among D’s
Corsi for % 5×5: 55.6
Zone Start: 65.6
Shots on goal/percentage: 16/12.5
Boxcars: 12GP, 2-2-4 (projected to 73GP, 12-12-14 small sample size alert)
I don’t know. I honestly can’t tell you what the future holds, and if I were to guess it would be only that and that’s not fair in this instance. The thing about Davidson isn’t the offensive spike, it’s the fact that he does so many things that are useful. He skates well, he has decent size, he can pass the puck or skate it out of danger and he can survive—that’s a big one, folks—at the NHL level without the experience he’ll gain if he continues to play well enough to stay in the lineup.
In a very real way, the Davidson ranking and the Nilsson ranking are very similar. In both cases, I started with these players well down the list of candidates and through their own efforts—and the struggles of others—they have arrived at this spot.
I do not give any extra credit for being close to NHL-ready. None. Brandon Davidson is No. 8 on merit, and I’m fully aware this could look ridiculous a year or even a month from now. The damndest thing, this.
THE 2010 DRAFT
- Taylor Hall, No. 1 overall. THE best Oilers player in many years (until McDavid), Hall pushes the river and excites the masses. Cornerstone. Graduated.
- Tyler Pitlick, No. 31 overall. Injuries and a lack of offense have curtailed his pro progress, but he’s still fighting for a position. A candidate for the Winter Top 20.
- Martin Marincin, No. 46 overall. No longer in the organization, approaching 100 NHL games. Graduated.
- Curtis Hamilton, No. 48 overall. Injuries and ineffective play impacted him heavily. No longer in organization.
- Ryan Martindale, No. 61 overall. Traded for Steve Pinizzotto, not a strong prospect at any time after his draft day. No longer in organization.
- Jeremie Blain, No. 91 overall. Unsigned by Edmonton, he’s played in AHL and ECHL since turning pro. No longer in organization.
- Tyler Bunz, No. 121 overall. Played in the ECHL and AHL since turning pro, played in one NHL game and no longer in organization.
- Brandon Davidson, No. 162 overall. Overcame cancer and more, his arrows have taken an upward trajectory this fall. No. 8 prospect, Winter 2015.
- Drew Czerwonka, No. 166 overall. Did not turn pro, no longer in hockey as an active player.
- Kristians Pelss, No. 181 overall. We’ll remember you, Kristians Pelss. RIP.
- Kellen Jones, No. 202 overall. Still an active player, just caught on with Bakersfield. No longer in organization beyond minor league connection.