Photo Credit – Terry Wilson/OHL Images/Aaron Bell
Bryce Montgomery is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible defenseman, who hails from the state of Maryland and his hometown is Bowie, Maryland (in between Annapolis, Maryland and Washington DC). Hockey is in his DNA. His father Matthew Montgomery played division three hockey for St. Mary’s University (Winona, Minnesota) in the 1980s. Blake Montgomery, Bryce’s younger brother, currently plays for the Skipjacks Hockey Club 16U AAA in York, Pennsylvania.
Maryland hasn’t produced a lot of NHL talent over the years. The most recognizable player from the State of Maryland is Jeff Halpern, who played mostly for the Washington Capitals and is now an Assistant Coach for the Tampa Bay Lightning. Aside from Halpern, Jarred Tinordi (Mark Tinordi’s son) played youth hockey for the Washington Little Caps. In addition, Alex Nylander and William Nylander both played for Team Maryland during Michael Nylander’s stint with the Washington Capitals.
Before coming to London Knights, Montgomery played youth hockey for both the Washington Little Caps 14U AAA and Team Maryland 16U AAA. During his time with the Washington Little Caps, the Knights caught wind of Montgomery as US-based scout Billy Sullivan stumbled upon the defenseman at a tournament in Buffalo, New York.
Also, he played prep school hockey for Dematha Catholic. Dematha is not widely known for hockey, but they have been extremely successful at developing athletes especially in basketball and football. Brian Westbrook (NFL), Byron Westbrook (NFL), Anthony McFarland Jr. (NFL), Cameron Wake (NFL), Victor Oladipo (NBA) and Markelle Fultz (NBA) are all alumni from Dematha. After his 2017-2018 campaign in Maryland, Montgomery decided to pack his bags and head up to Ashburnham, Massachusetts to play prep school hockey for Cushing Academy. Like Dematha, Cushing has done an excellent job in developing athletes, but they have had more success in hockey. Keith Yandle, Zach Bogosian, Tom Poti and Connor Sheary attended Cushing.
This past season, Montgomery completed his OHL rookie campaign. He played in 33 games for the London Knights and recorded two assists. Given his age, London decided to ease him. He would often play anywhere between six to nine minutes per night.
Due to COVID, Montgomery has not played since March and is waiting for the OHL to start their 2020-2021 season. At this moment, Montgomery has not been loaned out, but if the OHL can not return to play, you have to assume that he would be loaned out.
In addition, Montgomery’s USHL rights are owned by the Waterloo Black Hawks. He was previously committed to Providence College and was likely to play in the USHL before heading to the NCAA, but playing for the London Knights was more appealing for defenseman.
D.O.B – November 12, 2002
Nationality – United States
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –220 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Right
Montgomery’s Style Of Play
Montgomery is a defensive defenseman, who possesses offensive upside, but his play in the defensive zone is far more explosive than in the offensive zone.
He thrives at playing man-on-man defense in the slot. If an attacker (non puck carrier) is trying to exploit lanes in the slot, Montgomery keeps tabs on him and uses his frame to put pressure on the attacker to eliminate a potential threat. Not only does Montgomery exert a ton of pressure on non puck carriers, but he is quite strong at using his frame to limit puck movement. He has strong gap control and will play close to the vest. When an attacker is looking to shift the puck around the 6’5′ Marylander, Montgomery uses his frame to push attacker and by doing so he can control puck movement. In addition, he uses his frame well when dodging attackers on his way to loose pucks and he shown that he challenge and win puck battles with some of the best OHL prospects such as Cole Perfetti (Winnipeg Jets prospect). With his frame, he can be a handful for an attacker.
If he is battling net-front, sometimes he will look to screen the attacker who is screening his goaltender. By doing so, he doesn’t have to worry about the attacker dodging his stick and finding open ice. He just eliminates the treat completely. But, there are certainly times where Montgomery will use his stick to push attackers away from his crease.
Aside from using his frame to circumvent the attack, there are instances where the cycle will shift to the other half-wall and Montgomery will get out of position to come closer to the puck. While it doesn’t happen too often, Montgomery should work on positional awareness.
When it comes to puck movement, Montgomery is deceptive with his puck control. He will sell attackers on one lane and will take the other. He uses his reach to extend the puck out to one side, lure the attacker to that lane and immediately shift the puck to the other side to throw him off. He will also play a conservative game and will not force puck movement. If he has an attacker breathing down his neck, he will pivot and look for a pass to avoid a turnover.
In the offensive zone, there are instances in which he will pinch and jump to the perimeter, but it is not consistent. Montgomery does tend to use his slap shot quite a bit from the point. When he gets a tad closer in, he will opt to use his snap shot. With that being said, the majority of his shots end up in the goaltender’s lap. If Montgomery is set to expand his offensive game, he has to look to work on accuracy and elevating his shot more. If he can find those gaps in net and his elevation improves, he could prove to be a solid scorer or generate more rebound opportunities for his forwards. Aside from his shot, at times, London Knights head coach Dale Hunter has shifted Montgomery to right wing when he is looking to bring out a shut down line. When lining up at right wing, Montgomery tends to be aggressive with his forechecking and will show moments of grit.
From a skating perspective, Montgomery has an average extension. His leg extension isn’t too long and not too short. But, there are moments, where in the defensive zone, he will look to mimic his attacker when neutralizing the cycle. Sometimes, that means extending your legs out past the torso. Montgomery needs to be cautious of doing that. When you extend your legs too far out, you lose mobility and balance. If the attacker pivots on a dime, your feet are too wide apart and it becomes a challenge to use your edges to turn. There are instances where Montgomery struggles with shifting from a wide stride to a pivot.
All-in-all, Montgomery is a solid defensive prospect for the 2021 NHL Draft. If he can beef up his physical play and assert even more aggression from the perimeter towards the blue-line, he could be a handful for anyone trying to enter the zone.
Brandon Carlo, Right Handed Defenseman, Boston Bruins
Given the size of Brandon Carlo and his strong gap control, Montgomery reminds me quite of Carlo. Both, Carlo and Montgomery have shown flashes where they can be effective in the offensive zone, but need more development with their shot. They both have shown to have a blistering shot, but accuracy and pin-pointing the right gap is the area for development.
Second Pairing Defenseman (NHL).
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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