Vancouver Canucks 2016 NHL Draft Profile: C Brogan O’Brien

Jan 9, 2016; Prince George, BC, CAN; Prince George Cougars center Brogan O'Brien (15) watches the play against the Victoria Royals at CN Centre. Mandatory Credit: Brett Cullen
Jan 9, 2016; Prince George, BC, CAN; Prince George Cougars center Brogan O'Brien (15) watches the play against the Victoria Royals at CN Centre. Mandatory Credit: Brett Cullen /

The Vancouver Canucks are preparing for the 2016 NHL Entry Draft — and so are we.

Unfortunately, the 2015-16 season was cut short for the Vancouver Canucks, which means we have a long offseason ahead of us. Canucks GM Jim Benning and his staff will use the time to prepare next season’s roster, and the 2016 NHL Entry Draft will certainly play an important part in that process.

Vancouver started off strong in the fall of 2015 but ended the season with a thud. Thanks to their abysmal 28th rank in the league standings, the Canucks own seven picks early in each round. Benning did a great job in his first two years at the job and another successful draft could certainly help boost the rebuild.

Here at The Canuck Way, we will do our best to prepare you for the upcoming event by profiling as many draft-eligible players as we possibly can. Keep in mind that we are not saying these are players the Canucks are targeting. Instead, these are players that we think the Canucks could or should have interest in.

Let’s take a look at Prince George Cougars center Brogan O’Brien, who is projected to be a late-round selection.

vancouver canucks
Jan 12, 2016; Prince George, BC, CAN; Prince George Cougars center Brogan O’Brien (15) against the Seattle Thunderbirds at CN Centre. Mandatory Credit: Brett Cullen /

Name: Brogan O’Brein

Position: Center

Shoots: Left

Height, weight: 6’2”, 190 lbs

Team/League: Prince George Cougars, WHL

Stats (from 







NHL CSS Ranking: 97th (North American Skaters)

Risk, Reward: 2.5/5, 3/5

NHL-potential: Middle-Six Center

Draft Range: Fifth Round or Later

Scouting report

"A large two-way forward that plays many simple but effective roles in games. Not the most nimble skater, but pushes hard and can get momentum moving in the right direction with above-average quickness. Defensively active and always makes it hard for the opposition to find time and space. Doesn’t transition to offence very smoothly or quickly, but uses his teammates to help gain zone entry and then his skill takes over. Offensively, he sees the ice extremely well and possesses excellent scoring and playmaking ability. His size allows him to bull his way to the net and create offensive chances. Very effective in multiple roles, Brogan O’Brien is a versatile two-way forward with a lot of potential for future growth. [Elite Prospects]"


Brogan O’Brien is a defense-first two-way center who was able to prove that he can score as well, after being put in a position to succeed last season. The 6-foot-2 forward spent most of the season centering Chase Witala and Jesse Gabrielle, the Cougars’ top-two scorers, and got additional ice time on both special teams.

O’Brien is a hard worker and does not leave the opposition much time with the puck. He is not a great skater but skates hard to pressure his opponents in all three zones, forcing them to play inaccurate passes that often result in turnovers. Furthermore, the center battles hard in the corners, winning important puck battles that lead to scoring chances.

In addition, O’Brien displays great puck skills that help him move the puck around in the offensive zone. He can speed past defensemen and drive to the net or set up teammates for shots. He sees the ice very well and possesses excellent playmaking and scoring ability.


O’Brien is not exactly a smooth skater but he gets the job done. His speed is decent and he has a strong stride, but he definitely needs on his mobility and transitioning.

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Speaking of transitions. O’Brien plays a full 200-foot game, contributes to the attack and defends nicely, but his transition game is below average. He is not the kind of player who drives the puck up ice once he gains possession in the defensive zone, but rather the kind who gains possession, gets rid of the puck, and makes things happen once he gets it back in the offensive zone.

While 18 goals and 56 points are certainly respectable numbers for a rookie season, O’Briens considering his age and line mates. Witala and Gabrielle led the team in goals with 40 each, and they added 39 and 35 assists, respectively. O’Brien did contribute to that, but it was certainly not his play that led to their 80 goals. Plus, he only had 29 points in the lower-tier BCHL in his first year of draft eligibility.

Final Thoughts

Brogan O’Brien was passed over in the 2015 Draft but had a breakout season in his second year of eligibility. After looking like an entirely defensive forward with little scoring potential in the 2014-15 campaign, he showed everyone what he can do in 2015-16. The additional year in the BCHL definitely paid off.

The question is whether the improved offensive production is the result of his own work, or that of his line mates’. Big positives are his vision and offensive awareness that should translate well to the professional level.

Next: 2016 NHL Draft Profile Overview

If he can produce offense, he could be a middle-six center at the next level. If he fails to do that, he might be nothing more than a fourth-line penalty-kill specialist. Even that would be a decent turnout for a late-round pick, though.

The Vancouver Canucks currently do not own a fifth-round pick. So unless they acquire one on draft day, O’Brien will only be an option for the final two rounds, where Vancouver owns a total of three picks.