Welcome to the Canucks Top 25 Under 25 Rankings, the series that makes you wish you were under 25 again. The list includes all players born after January 1st, 1996. Five staff writers (Beggsy, Westy, CanucksAbbyFan2, Trevor Connors, Markus Meyer) and one former staff writer (Daniel Gee, Elite Prospects) cast votes for the project.
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of 2015 third-round pick Guillaume Brisebois?
Breeze-bah! Let’s do this— Jason Botchford (@botchford) October 25, 2018
Yeah, that’s what I thought. Rest in peace, Botch.
In all honesty, the maniacal way that Botchford etched Breeze-bah’s name into our heads is still what comes to mind first when thinking of the 23-year-old defenceman’s. After Jim Benning long-touted him as a solid prospect in the pipeline, it’s quite telling to hear less and less about Breeze-bah, even though there’s an open competition on Vancouver’s defence heading into the season.
Every day he grabs his lunch pail, his hard hat, punches the time clock and does his job as good as anyone.— Utica Comets (@UticaComets) June 4, 2020
You always know what you're gonna get when Breezer is out there. pic.twitter.com/2YcnAAeRU4
Armed with his lunch pail and all, Brisebois skated to his second-straight top defenceman award for the Comets last season. He’s a positionally-sound defenceman who rarely finds himself out of position at the AHL level. Brisebois is also a reliable penalty killer for Trent Cull and the Comets coaching staff.
So, why is Brisebois absent from Benning’s comments about prospect defenceman fighting for an NHL roster spot in 2021?
There are three pretty clear reasons why this is the Longueuil, Quebec native’s reality.
1) He’s been passed on the depth chart. Despite being named the Comets top defenceman ahead of a more noteworthy prospect like Olli Juolevi, it was telling that the fifth overall pick in 2016 was picked to join the Canucks in the Edmonton bubble, ahead of Brisebois. Also, the signing of 2017 fourth-round pick Jack Rathbone further pushed Brisebois down the LHD depth chart.
2) Trevor Green’s preference to keep pairings on their strong side. We’ve kept hearing Jalen Chatfield’s name mentioned throughout the offseason as someone who has a shot of making the Canucks out of camp. One of the main reasons why Chatfield would get the nod over someone like Brisebois (who plays a similar game) is because Chatfield plays the right-side. He also has more “snarl” to his game as well, but that’s a secondary reason. Brogan Rafferty is another right-shot prospect on defence who’s getting more roster consideration over the two-time Eric Weinrich Award Winner.
3) Brisebois has a low ceiling. He’s certainly a safe, responsible player, but Brisebois arguably has the lowest ceiling of the four defenceman named ahead of him by Benning this offseason. Yes, arguably even Chatfield, who at least shows up more with physicality even if he isn’t as polished defensively.
What’s Next for Brisebois?
The Canucks’ return in the 2015 Eddie Lack trade recently signed a one-year, two-way deal with the Vancouver Canucks. The deal was worth $700,000 at the NHL level and $125,000 in the minors.
Of course, there’s always a chance that Brisebois plays more like BREEZE-BAH, and blows the doors off during training camp. Even though he isn't the first, second, third, or even fourth name mentioned for those two open spots, he still could play his way onto this team (likely as the seventh defender, if at all).
The most likely scenario is that Brisebois returns to Utica and looks to make it a hat trick by earning his third straight “top defenceman in Utica” award. If he manages to do that, then perhaps he gets some more serious consideration for the 2021-22 Canucks club.
He will be a leader in Utica next season as other prospects on defence such as Rathbone and Jett Woo join the club. Brisebois’ job will be to get them acclimatized to professional hockey, all the while trying not to slip down the depth chart any further.