Brayden Point: The Face of the Franchise in Tampa Bayby Dom Lunardo September 9, 2020 1 comment
The Stanley Cup Playoffs are any hockey fan’s dream. Drama, excitement, unpredictability, passion, and despair all highlight one of the best tournaments on the planet. The National Hockey League postseason is also a time for players to make names for themselves. One of those players who has caught the proverbial eye this summer is Tampa Bay Lightning forward, Brayden Point.
At just 24 years of age, Point is quickly becoming one of the best players in the NHL and a rising star on a ferocious and deeply talented Lightning team who find themselves just seven wins shy of a Stanley Cup championship. On a team that includes the likes of Steven Stamkos, Andrei Vasilevskiy, Victor Hedman, and Nikita Kucherov, it’s Point who takes the cake as the face of the franchise. Let’s read on and find out what makes him such a force on one of the league’s best teams.
Steal of the 2014 NHL Draft
Every NHL Draft has its fair share of “steals”. That steal in June 2014 appeared in the form of Point and the fortuitous Lightning. Unbelievably, he was drafted in the third round, 79th overall back at the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. It baffles me how so many clubs missed out on his services. Talk about some good fortune in the sunshine state.
As a junior player, Point plied his trade over a five-year span with the Moose Jaw Warriors of the Western Hockey League (WHL). Take a look at these stats in Moose Jaw. In 252 total games, Point tallied 134 goals, 190 assists, and 324 points for a 1.28 points-per-game pace. Point emerged as one of the best players in Canadian junior hockey, yet was still drafted ever so late. At the time, Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman, who’s now at the helm as GM in Detroit, knew he was getting a real good player in Point. Oh, how little did the hockey world know that he would turn into a bonafide stud?
Skills of a Marksman & Heart of a Lion
From the moment Point stepped on the ice for his first NHL game, you just knew he had the “it” factor. Listed at 5 ’10, 165 pounds (on a good day), he consistently dazzles fans and teammates alike with his work ethic, speed, vision, silky smooth hands, and raw talent. With the puck on his stick, Point possesses excellent vision and a killer release. After amassing 92 points (41 goals, 51 assists) last season, Point followed up the (pandemic shortened) 2019-20 season by scoring 64 points (25 goals, 39 assists) in 66 games played. This kid is a scoring machine. He is also a leader and undisputed superstar who just continues to dominate and improve in all facets of the game.
On a team with so much depth, balance, and superstar power of the highest regard (Hedman, Stamkos, Kucherov), like Tampa Bay, the past few seasons have seen Point really transform his game. Despite being a late third-round pick, number 21 in royal blue has an engine to him that seamlessly never stops. For a little guy, he zips across the ice, and everything he does both with and without the puck is direct, purposeful, and lethal. His effort level and energy are always something to behold because it seems like he never stops. Opposing defensemen have described Point as a handful and a menace to play against, and frankly, I don’t blame them. He has worked hard to become a complete 200-foot player. Point has made it his mission to become the single best player on a ridiculously talented Lightning team on a collision course with Lord Stanley.
Conn Smythe? You Bet
After being part of the Lightning squad that was shockingly swept away in the first round at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets last season, Point is spearheading the charge this summer inside the NHL bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton. He is my personal (early) choice for the Conn Smythe Trophy as the NHL playoffs’ Most Valuable Player (MVP). Point has brought his game to a whole new level in these playoffs. In 14 games played, he has scored 8 goals (including two overtime winners), and added 15 assists, for 23 points averaging 21:24 worth of ice time. He’s also winning 56% of his face-offs with a plus-11 rating. If those numbers don’t scream out Conn Smythe, I don’t know what will. On a team with so many good leaders, Point stands out beyond the rest with his consistency, will to win, and his obsession for always getting better.
Simply put, Point is just one of the best players in the league. He is going to be around for a long time, and he’s only scratching the surface as to how dominant and game-changing a player he can become. The National Hockey League has officially been put on notice.
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Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images