I would like to make it public knowledge that I fleeced Adam Laskaris by trading him the rights to JD Greenway’s prospect rankings piece and one GIF of JD Greenway for the right to the Jeremy Bracco piece. Don’t let him tell you that he was just doing me a favour because I don’t check schedules and had no idea I was scheduled to do the Greenway piece until it was too late. This was simply Hall for Larsson with much larger consequences.
Adam Laskaris /// Shawn Reis: 2
Megan Kim /// Scott Maxwell /// Evan Presement /// Hayley Hendren: 3
Ryan Fancey /// Brayden Engel: 4
Ryan Hobart /// Dylan Fremlin /// Bobby Cappucino /// Jon Steitzer: 5
Bracco is a diminutive, 20-year-old forward who is full of offensive talent. The Freeport, New York native is listed at 5’9 and 181 lbs according to eliteprospects.com and is coming off of a dream season in which he was a part of the 2017 World Junior champion US team as well as the Memorial Cup winning Windsor Spitfires after being traded there mid-season by the Kitchener Rangers. Bracco also signed his entry level contract with the Leafs after the OHL regular season, so everything is coming up roses for him these days.
Bracco was drafted 61st overall in the 2015 draft after scoring a lot for the US National Development Program and had a big D+1 season which he spent mostly with the Kitchener Rangers, posting 64 points in 49 games. I say mostly because he started the season with Boston College, but left after five games in which he recorded three points. Bracco improved, marginally, on his 1.3 points per game from his D+1 season during his D+2, posting 1.45 PPG. He was actually scoring at a much higher rate in his 27 games with the Rangers in which he posted 51 points, nearly 2 PPG, and then slowed significantly with the Spitfires, posting 32 points in 30 games. I think this had a lot to do with him being separated from Rangers forward and Panthers prospect Adam Mascherin who is a natural shooter while Bracco is a natural playmaker. Mascherin ranked sixth in OHL shots last season and made a perfect fit for the playmaker Bracco.
Bracco is an extremely good facilitator of the puck and gives his teammates a tonne of opportunities to score. Assuming he plays for the Toronto Marlies next season, he would likely be best served to be put on a line with a high volume shooter like Kerby Rychel who ranked 14th in shots in the AHL last season according to prospect-stats.com. Maybe those two could recreate some of the magic that Bracco and Mascherin had in the OHL. Below is a chart displaying his rate stats from his prospect-stats.com page, which you can find here. The page also estimates that Bracco played 42% of his TOI with Mascherin despite being traded half way through the season, so those two were glued to each other’s hips while he was still with the Rangers.
Another encouraging sign for Bracco is that he ranked second in the OHL in primary assists per game with .68 (Dylan Strome ranked first with .97) while ranking seventh in P/GP and sixth in primary points/GP. All of his rate stats are first line calibre, even his shot rate, but obviously his primary assist rate is the most impressive part.
Bracco’s shot and goal heat map show that he didn’t ever shoot from outside of the top of the circles, which is more or less what I expected from him given his tendency to pass rather than shoot. He also isn’t going to overpower anyone with his shot, to say the least, so it’s probably for the best that he utilize his excellent passing abilities to a moderately excessive degree.
If you’ve ever watched Bracco play for even 30 seconds you’ve surely noticed that, despite not possessing high-end foot speed for a player of his stature, his footwork is incredible. His skating is very Jeff Skinner-esque in that he uses those 10-2 pivots (or mohawk cuts or whatever you call them) in full stride. A lot of players use this maneuver while pivoting out of the corner or spinning off of opponents, but Bracco’s usage of it is very unique. Below is a pretty good example of what I’m talking about as he uses his edge work to evade two defenders down low and then fire a cross ice pass to the front of the net, resulting in a Team USA goal.
The next GIF is perhaps the perfect microcosm of Bracco’s abilities. He goes for a lap around the offensive zone with his feet at the 10-2 position virtually the entire time, evading several defenders along the way and finishing it by making a savvy pass from behind the net to a teammate in a good scoring position. Passes from behind the net to a teammate in the slot have been proven to be historically the most dangerous.
This toe drag + wrister top corner is so slick. Bracco is so gifted with the puck, he has that unique skating ability and the hands to go with his excellent vision. He makes this poor defender look extremely bad.
This next GIF shows him creating a goal for himself by utilizing that edge work! Bracco gives the goaltender no time to go post to post before he swings around the net and tucks it in between the goaltender’s foot and the post.
If you’d like to see more video evidence of Bracco’s abilities, check out this video which is where I pulled these GIFs from.
As mentioned earlier, it’s nearly a sure bet that Bracco will begin the season with the Toronto Marlies and I know I’ll be tracking his progress closely. Again, as mentioned earlier, I would like to see Bracco be put in a position to succeed with the Marlies in his rookie year and I think that would entail playing with a pure shooter, so I hope we get to see that. Hopefully Bracco gets a chance alongside skilled linemates and some powerplay time so that he doesn’t have a similar season to Dmytro Timashov’s rookie season with the Marlies.
I think Bracco’s career trajectory will likely depend heavily on whether he’s put into the right situations or not. That sounds like a vague, cliche, copout, but his skillset is so unique that I could really envision him looking like a total steal or totally irrelevant by next year at this time. He’s not particularly fast, but he’s as shifty as anybody. He’s not very strong, but he’s a very intelligent player. His shot won’t blow you away, but his passing ability will. This all makes for a very intriguing prospect and the kind you should be looking for in a prospect, players with very high potential, rather than “playing it safe” with players like Frederik Gauthier who, at best, could be a depth player.
Bracco’s transition to the pro game is going to be a fascinating thing to keep an eye on next year.