Could Branden Troock Be Playing His Way To An Entry Level Contract?

An analysis of whether Dallas Stars prospect Branden Troock could earn himself an entry level contract.

Branden Troock was picked by the Dallas Stars in the fifth round of the 2012 NHL Draft, 134th overall. He was an interesting pick because of a multitude of factors.

First, he was drafted despite losing the an entire year due to injury. He had soft tissue damage to his neck, something similar to what Sidney Crosby at the time was also suffering. I went back and looked at my original thoughts of the picks after the draft.

At 6-foot-3, 203 pounds, he is a big player which makes him perfect for a physical forechecking game. He can outmuscle and outwork most defenders. Despite his size, and the loss of a year of development, he has a powerful skating style. However the year lost has limited his defensive game without the puck. Though he will have time to catch up on this it will need to be improved upon. The most interesting and something that I find very promising that despite Brandon Troock obviously having the skills to excel in a role as a third line checking position he has some underrated offensive talents. He has a pretty good passing technique and his wrister is strong and quick.

Back then I reported on an unnamed scout in a prospect guide who said that Troock had a rare combination of size, speed and skill. Since then he has steadily fallen down the expectations as he failed to stay healthy.

Troock, especially after being limited to only 19 games last season, appeared to be injury prone. He could have all the talent in the world but without staying healthy it would mean nothing.

It appears so far this season, touch wood, that Troock has managed to avoid a serious injury and has played all but one of the Seattle Thunderbirds games.

He has also been very productive for the T-Birds; he has 32 points in 30 games so far. Thats good enough for second on Seattle, behind defenseman Shea Theodore. In his last relatively healthy season, his draft year, he had 26 points in 58 games.

Over the past 15 games he has had 21 points, a very impressive total and one that could raise some eyebrows if it continues to follow the trend from the last 15 games.

Has his good play pushed him into contention for an entry level contract in the summer? As Troock was drafted out of the CHL, and before the new CBA, he must be signed before the 2014 NHL draft or he can reenter the draft.

But will he be offered a contract by the Dallas Stars?

First, it is important to note that Troock was a pick by former general manager, Joe Nieuwenydk and not Jim Nill. Jim Nill doesn't have a connection to the pick and therefore might be less inclined to sign him.

Troock has been injury prone but also shown some very interesting skill and talent. Is it worth keeping him as an asset rather than risk losing him to another team? Perhaps, especially if they believe he can remain healthy and develop into something worthwhile to the organisation.

At the beginning of the season, I didn't believe that he would be offered a contract. If he keeps this up I think they might. Though its likely he will probably stay in the WHL and do his overage year instead of turning pro straight away. This is to make up for lost development time due to injury.

Whatever happens with Troock, we'll know whether he will stay within the organization by the 2014 NHL Draft.

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