With the 218th pick in the seventh round of the 2022 NHL Draft, the Toronto Maple Leafs have selected Brandon Lisowsky.
A 5’9 left winger who plays for the Saskatoon Blades, Lisowsky is another on-brand pick for the Leafs in that he has a decent sample of solid production. In 94 games in the WHL so far, he has 75 points (41 goals) and has added five points in five playoff games. For reference, second-round pick Fraser Minten has 73 points through 87 games in the WHL to date.
There is a bit of a trend when it comes to these types of picks by the Leafs: smaller prospects falling down the ranks, in part due to their size, that are productive players. A few names the Leafs have drafted along these lines over the years include Dmytro Timashov, Adam Brooks, Semyon Der-Arguchintsev, and Ryan Tverberg. All things being equal, the Leafs have generally prioritized production over “traits” under this management group.
With a 33-goal draft season, Lisowsky is said to have an NHL shot. All you can really ask for at this point in the draft order is upside, so either you go with tools and hope the rest of the game fills out (i.e. a big player who needs to improve his game leaps and bounds), or you go for skill and hope the rest of the game comes together.
We know what the Leafs like to do. You can do worse than betting on production coupled with a big-time shot in the seventh round.
Lisowsky was third on his team in scoring last season — the Blades were a first-round fodder playoff team that was promptly eliminated in five games — and the two players ahead of him are both 19 years old. He should be in line for all of the ice time imaginable next season. It is fair to wonder if the team will be any good next year, but ice time is truly king when it comes to development, and Lisowsky should get all that he can handle in that department.
This was the Leafs’ fifth and final pick in the draft, and they did not draft a defenseman, opting to go with four forwards and a goalie. After starting the draft at a premium position (center) and trading for an extra pick to take a swing on a netminder, it’s noteworthy that the Leafs filled out the rest of the draft with wingers. I’m sure it will be chalked up to simply taking the best player — which is the strategy every team should employ — but it’s nonetheless interesting that this is how it shook out.
This is the first draft since 2013 in which the Leafs have not selected a defenseman.
Like the Minten selection, their primary scout of the WHL area, to our knowledge, is Garth Malarchuk.
Brandon Lisowsky pre-draft rankings:
- Ranked #88 by HockeyProspect.com’s Blackbook
- Ranked #53 by MCKEEN’S HOCKEY
- Ranked #79 by TSN/CRAIG BUTTON
- Ranked #74 by NHL CENTRAL SCOUTING (NA Skaters)
Brandon Lisowsky Scouting Report
courtesy of the 2022 Blackbook (BUY NOW)
A goal-scoring winger, Brandon Lisowsky has a really terrific shot. It’s definitely his best asset. Mechanically, it’s just awesome. The release is lightning quick and he can release the puck at a couple of different points and angles on his blade, which makes him a threat even at odder angles. He can pop a shot from near his toe and open his wrists and chest to get a puck to the far post from, say, near the bottom of the circles. He has excellent core rotation through his shot with a tremendous, fully extended follow-through.
His goals this year were, quality too. His 33 in 68 games matched that of teammate Tristen Robins (SJ second-rounder, 2020) for second on Saskatoon (WHL) in goals. There weren’t a lot of “junior goals” in the mix; he earned a lot of them, which is promising.
Lisowsky has some nice hands on him, too, but unlike his shot, there’s a limiting factor to the scalability of his hands. He certainly looks flashy at times, but the large majority of his successful dekes are in wider-space areas where he can work against the oncoming movement of players and turn their toes to attack their heels. That’s where he can win, especially if he’s had a couple of strides to lead into the move.
Lisowsky has a much harder time against defenders that are absorbing his rushes and are in a calmer, more composed state. Those defenders are way more likely to get a piece of him physically. Most of the time, any contact is enough to nullify the deke because of his change-of-direction, first-step quickness.
Overall, he’s a good skater. Strong on his edges in tight spots, he has good hips and utilizes stick-led turns for a quality weight balance transfer. He has really good speed at the top end — breakaway speed, even. The first step quickness isn’t there, though, especially in a change of direction, out-of-start-and-stop situation. It might be because of his upper body and his frame. He’s not a wiry 5’9”; he’s got a pretty thick frame to him, and while it might aid him in some areas, it might slow him down in this particular instance.
He owns an effective escape maneuver along the half wall where he can spin away from pressure; it’s quick and invokes good puck protection techniques, but it doesn’t involve much deception. He only really handles the puck very close to his body. Naturally, he doesn’t have much wingspan. It’s going to be tough to set up defensemen for deceptive maneuvers given what he’s working with.
We think Lisowsky was counted on too much to carry the puck. He should have the puck last more often. As a result, he ended up exposing limitations in his vision and his inconsistent ability to set up his teammates for better success. We’re talking about: tempo control on rush opportunities, drawing defenders to him, etc.
For any well-timed, accurate pass in medium or worse traffic, there might have been two or three that fell short of being labeled a “compelling success.” There’s a willingness to work in the house, but he needs to improve his minor adjustments and space-makers in the high-rent areas if he wants to score goals in the interior at the next level.
The former ninth overall pick in the 2019 WHL Bantam Draft is fairly inconsistent in the rest of his game, though. His motor can be revved up and get him involved all over the ice, but at other times, he’ll go completely silent. In line with that, he sometimes comes back defensively but doesn’t have it all the way figured out. When getting out to his check at the point, he often goes for depth-first instead of the lane, for instance.
However, when he’s going, he gives it an honest effort, trying to force his way into inside positioning. He’ll even throw a hit or two in there, but he doesn’t typically get good contact because he telegraphs it in advance and only gets a glancing blow in. There was an instance where he was going to the corner for a loose puck in the series against Moose Jaw where he all but announced a reverse hit attempt was coming and he whiffed entirely because the opponent was able to plainly read it, walk around it, and pick up the puck unchallenged.
His hockey IQ might only be average. As hinted at above, he doesn’t have great vision and he’s half a beat late to process the game. We see him sort of lose track of the puck at times after it gets shot or deflected, so there’s a pause, locate, think, and activate chain that feels and looks sluggish.
His neutral zone and even attack zone routes are wonky and inconsistent. Even very obvious situations where he should, for instance, be driving the far post are not a gimme with him, he might call an audible and it’s usually not a high-end chess move. It actually often serves to make the game a little less predictable for his teammates and can cause a play to fail.
Ultimately, the questionable first-step quickness on a 5’9” frame and the lack of real dynamic skill in traffic are enough to give us pause. From a technical perspective, he’s surely one of the more technically-skilled players in this WHL draft class, but he has warts to go along with his positives.
GM Kyle Dubas on Brandon Lisowsky
Our Western league scouts — both Darren Ritchie and Garth Malarchuk — were very big fans of him. He was high on our list. It was supported by other members of our staff.
Obviously, he can score, which is a great attribute to have. He is a competitive guy. We hope he just continues to develop in Saskatoon. We will see him in development camp and in Traverse City in the Fall. We will just continue to get him along that path, continue to improve on his skating mobility, and hope that it is one of these seventh-round picks that everyone looks back on and it turns out well.
Brandon Lisowsky Video
Brandon Lisowsky Statistics
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|2018-19||Burnaby Winter Club U15 Prep “C”||CSSHL U15||26||32||17||49||50||-|||||Playoffs||3||5||5||10||8||-0|
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|2019-20||Burnaby Winter Club Prep||CSSHL U18||13||7||12||19||22||-|||||Playoffs||2||2||0||2||2||-0|