Photo Credit: Rena Laverty
Sean Behrens is an offensive defenseman currently lacing up the skates for the USNTDP U18 squad in Plymouth, Michigan. Behrens grew up in Barrington, Illinois and played his youth hockey for Chicago Mission in the HPHL. During his 13U and 14U seasons for the Mission, he was a childhood teammate of fellow USNTDP forward Jack Devine (2022 NHL Draft eligible prospect).
Behrens joined the U17’s in the 2019-20 season, and had instant success. He tallied six goals and 31 assists for 37 points in 45 games played. Also, he saw a handful of games with the U18’s as well, scoring one goal and adding two helpers for three points in six games. This season, Behrens made the jump to the U18’s full time, and so far this season, he’s racked up six goals and 25 assists for 31 points in 39 games played. In Behrens’ two seasons with the USNTDP, he’s also collected nine goals and 30 assists for 39 points in 54 games played in USHL competition.
On April 17th, Behrens was named an Assistant Captain for the upcoming IIHF Men’s Under-18 World Championships which are slated to take place April 26th-May 6th in Frisco, Texas. Look for Behrens, Aidan Hreschuk, Red Savage and several of their USNTDP teammates to showcase their talents at one of the highest levels for draft-eligible prospects in the world.
For the 2022-23 season, Behrens has committed to the University of Denver, joining his lifelong teammate and friend, Jack Devine, in Colorado. Under the watchful eye of Head Coach David Carle, Behrens will hope to continue the trend of strong Pioneer squads in recent seasons, and strive to earn a NCAA National Championship much like the 16-17 Pioneer squad that featured talents such as Troy Terry, Henrik Borgström and former Hobey Baker winner Will Butcher.
D.O.B – March 31, 2003
Nationality – USA
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –174 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Left
Behrens’ Style Of Play
Sean Behrens is your modern-day offensive defenseman. Although he’s undersized in some scouts eyes (5’9″), he certainly makes up for it with his amazing on-ice awareness, his hockey IQ, and willingness to play a much larger role physically than his frame shows. On top of that, Behrens is also really good in transition. He uses an impressive combination of speed, skill, and intelligence to elude defenders and set up teammates with scoring chances several times each game.
Defensively, Behrens is right on par with his other draft eligible NDTP teammates. He’s more than capable making excellent stretch passes to split the opposing team’s defense, and can separate attackers from the puck along the boards with ease.
Behrens is also quite talented at quarterbacking the power-play for the U18’s, as he’s shown all season. He has little issue taking a shot from just about any location in the offensive zone, but is more inclined to seek out one of his teammates with a perfectly placed pass.
Behrens’ hockey IQ is also ridiculously good. He thinks the game so well and is rarely caught with his head down. He can spring teammates with some pretty incredible passes, and always seems to be one step ahead of defenders when moving the puck up ice.
Let’s take a more in-depth look at some aspects of Sean Behrens game:
Behrens has one of the nicer skating strides among 2021 Draft eligible offensive defensemen. He’s able to generate a surprising amount of speed in a short section of ice, and has the capability to go end-to-end, weaving through opponents. Behrens also has a unique talent of using crossovers in the neutral zone to generate deception in opponents’ eyes.
In watching film on Behrens, his skating is arguably his best attribute. The way he can fly through the neutral zone in only a couple of strides, and draw defenders to him is a telling example of how much opponents respect his game. Behrens edge work is also very good, and his overall foot speed is a joy to watch.
When challenged, Behrens is also quite talented at shaking off defenders by utilizing his edge work and agility to make quick, sudden moves to break free from pressure. Once free, he can use some of his explosiveness to burst up ice and create an odd-man rush.
On a team loaded with high-end offensive talent, Behrens has been a bright spot this season for the U18’s. He sees a ton of ice time with the top scorers on both forward and defense, and the offense seems to flow through him as the break out. Behrens is an absolute machine in transition as mentioned above, and can regularly draw 2-3 defenders to his person as he executes controlled zone entries. That ability to tie up as many defenders while entering the offensive zone leaves the other playmakers on the U18’s ample space to set up for a potential pass, of which Behrens is also quite talented at executing.
While in the offensive zone, Behrens will take any and every opportunity to keep the play in the zone, allowing the U18’s to maximize their offensive abilities. He’s frequently pinching down off the point, and can do a variety of things once there, which makes his game so versatile. Behrens is also able to wheel the puck pretty much anywhere in the offensive zone with ease, and is prone to firing off a shot or delivering a beauty of a pass from any location.
From a points aspect, Behrens is a set-up genius. In 39 GP this season for the U18’s, he’s racked up 25 helpers. He has a pretty much even distribution of primary and secondary assists, which attests to his ability of thinking the game well and seeming to be a step ahead of opponents.
The only downside to being so offensive-minded, however, is Behrens can get caught while down deep in the offensive zone, leaving his team open for odd-man rushes. That being said, Behrens has little to no issue making up ground fast, with his above-average skating.
Speaking in terms of defense, Behrens is pretty much on par with most top-50 Draft Eligible defenseman. He’s able to execute breakouts with an exceptional focus on delivering a great pass. As mentioned above, he excels at long-range passing from his own zone.
Perhaps the most likeable trait to Behrens’ defensive game, is the fact he plays like he’s 6’4, when he’s 5’9. He’s shown this sense of physicality when defending the net front, and when he’s playing in the corners that is so amazing to watch. Behrens also excels at forcing defenders out wide when breaking into their zone, and certainly isn’t afraid of laying the body:
Behrens also possesses a very active stick when defending in his own zone, and especially when he’s killing a penalty. He’s able to utilize that trait and disrupt play quite effectively, as he sees a little over two minutes of PK time per game.
Perhaps the only drawback to Behrens defensive play, is he sometimes has lapses in judgement in the defensive zone that lead to simple mistakes and turnovers. For example, he will chase an opponent all around the defensive zone, tiring himself out and leaving him out of position, when he could simply switch off the attacker to a teammate and cover elsewhere.
Like many of the players that rise through the ranks for the USNTDP, Behrens has a well-rounded game. That being said, there isn’t really any prospects in this draft that don’t have things to work on in their game. Behrens is no exception to that.
In watching film on Behrens, it’s noticeable he has a powerful, somewhat-accurate shot. He could definitely look to work on his shooting accuracy, especially when it comes to close-range shooting and one-timers. Behrens could also benefit from working on his puck control a little, but it’s still a net positive aspect of his game. He sometimes struggles with having the puck roll off his stick as he’s about to shoot, which could also be drawn up to bad luck.
All in all, if Behrens can fine tune some aspects of his game, there’s real promise for the player to develop into an everyday NHL defenseman.
Behrens is without a doubt a solid offensive defenseman prospect. There’s countless things to like about his game, both offensively and defensively. Behrens may benefit the best from landing with a team who views him as the perfect fit for a larger, more defensive minded partner. That potential pairing will allow Behrens to utilize his offensive abilities without hesitation. However, there are of course a few areas of his game which could use some work, if he’s to develop into a top-4 NHL defenseman at some point down the road.
As things sit now, Behrens was ranked at #57 in Bob McKenzie’s April Draft Rankings, but there’s a chance he could be selected pretty much anywhere within the second round. If a team really likes his skillset, and is willing to let him develop a few seasons in the NCAA and potentially the AHL, there’s reason to believe he could be selected early on in the second round.
Charlie McAvoy, RHD, Boston Bruins (NHL)
In watching film of Behrens, his game translates in many of the ways that Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy’s did in his draft year (2016). Although McAvoy stands a little taller at an even 6 feet, both players have a similar style of play.
In terms of career path, Behrens and McAvoy have an eerily similar background. Both players were members of the USNTDP U17 and U18 teams. They also both represented the USA in World Championships at the U17 and U18 levels. With Behrens attending the University of Denver in the coming seasons, both players will have competed at the NCAA level as well.
In terms of production and play style, both Behrens and McAvoy are excellent skaters and possess a high hockey IQ. They are both capable of being assist machines, and can log a large amount of ice time in relatively any situation.
If the team which selects Behrens with one of their draft picks can continue to develop him at a high level, there’s a good chance they’ll be happy with their selection, and should have him in their defensive rotation for seasons to come.
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.
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