Photo Credit: Keith Hershmiller Photography / Regina Pats
Scouting Report written by Matthew Somma
I’ll be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for smaller forwards that have a ton of skill. When I first watched Brandon Lisowsky play, he immediately caught my attention as a player that could make a difference at this level. Lisowsky is a player whose skill makes him a pain to play against in the offensive zone, after all. When he’s on his game, Lisowsky can be one of the more potent offensive presences on his team, utilizing a fantastic shot and his hockey sense in the relentless pursuit of offense. On draft day, you’ll hear analysts talking about players that have a motor that “just won’t quit.” Lisowsky is one of those players.
In our Winter Rankings, Lisowsky missed the cut in both the top 64 as well as our honorable mentions. At the time, I was higher on Fraser Minten for a handful of reasons, but after doing some more research on both players, I’d put Lisowsky in over him if we were to do the rankings again. Lisowsky has the potential to play in the NHL and make more of an impact, and both players have roughly the same chances of not making it to the NHL. If I’m an NHL team, I’m drafting for upside.
D.O.B – January 20, 2004
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Weight –179 lbs
Position – Center
Handedness – Left
Lisowsky’s Style of Play
I would describe Lisowsky’s play as a relentless pursuit of offense. He’s not the type of player to sit back and take a shift off or wait for the puck to come to him. Instead, he’ll go out of his way to make room for himself on the ice and get into a lane to either shoot or receive a pass. Lisowsky’s ability to scan the ice and read the play a step ahead of the opposition makes him one of the smarter players out there. He’ll find little gaps in coverage to thread a shot or pass through, and he’s a good enough skater and stickhandler to expose a weaker defender in order to get around them. You always hear the term “shifty” get thrown around with smaller forwards that are able to dart in and out of coverage in the offensive zone, but I’d describe Lisowsky as a player that dictates the pace. Defenders have to play at his pace otherwise they’ll be chasing him along the boards. Sure, Lisowsky can be elusive, and it’s largely due to the fact that his legs are constantly moving in the offensive zone. He can switch up his angles and change direction quickly thanks to strong edgework. If he gets caught, he’ll manage to stickhandle to either get himself out of trouble or open up the defender just enough to make a pass to an open teammate.
Lisowsky is able to do a lot of the same things in transition, too. I see him more as a winger moving forward rather than a center due to his lack of size and reach. He’ll be more effective coming down the wing than right down the middle. That said, Lisowsky is a confident puck carrier and one that can enter the zone successfully, usually leading to at least one shot on goal.
This next play from Lisowsky stands out to me. Not only does he create a turnover, he’s able to turn on the jets and immediately gain separation from the defender, leading to a scoring chance. This quick burst of speed will allow for Lisowsky to create more offense as he continues to develop.
Lisowsky can thrive under pressure, which is part of the reason why I believe that he’s a strong player in transition. If he senses that he’s in over his head, he’ll make adjustments and unload the puck before more trouble arises. He plays like someone who hates to dump the puck in, so he’ll always look to make a pass before electing for a dump and chase. Or, as in this case, he’ll shoot the puck.
Over the course of the season, I’ve noticed that Lisowsky will work hard to create something out of nothing. He’s also a takeaway machine, largely in part to his “never give up” attitude. He notices when defenders are getting a little too careless with the puck and will strip them of the puck in order to continue pressing the attack. Offensive rushes rarely die on his stick and it’s largely in part to efforts such as the following clip.
Lisowsky has 30+ goals this season and has proven that his shot is one of his greatest weapons over the course of this year. He can score in a variety of ways, but I’ve been finding that Lisowsky is deadly from the top of the circles as well as the slot.
I’d consider labeling him as a sniper because of how quick and accurate his shot is. His shot release doesn’t need to be much quicker because of how great the shot itself is. Here’s an example of how Lisowsky can get just enough separation from a defender to burn them.
The cut across the middle and the shot while losing his balance? Pure perfection.
Now, Lisowsky isn’t a perfect player by any means. There have been a few concerns that have come up as I’ve watched Lisowsky play, mainly his reach and strength. Lisowsky can get bumped off of the puck with relative ease and he isn’t able to take away as many lanes due to his reach, or lack thereof. As a result of his lack of reach, I find that he can be a bit of a liability defensively. Lisowsky isn’t out of position in the defensive zone, but players can move the puck around him and try to make something happen when they cut to the middle. They’ll have more space to work with and as a result, less room for error. Now, that’s not to say that Lisowsky will be unable to do much of anything in the offensive zone. He still can be potent when it comes to takeaways, and that’s something that opposing offenses will have to look out for. The issue is that Lisowsky can be caught skating around without much of a purpose and will leave a lane open. Lisowsky isn’t as good of a passer as he is a shooter, either. He is able to see where he wants to make a pass, but will often struggle with the timing and placement of the passes. I would consider Lisowsky to be an average passer. He isn’t limited to simple passes because he tries to thread the puck through defenders, but the problem is that he isn’t the most accurate passer. Lisowsky’s passing is something that I could see holding him back at the NHL level. Timing is everything and you have even less time to make a decision at the NHL level than you do in junior hockey.
My last concern about Lisowsky is that he tends to play on the perimeter too much at even strength. On the power play, he’s lethal from the bumper position and, as shown in some of the clips I’ve used, is dangerous in the slot area. At even strength, Lisowsky can stay on the outside and look to create offense along the boards rather than attack the middle of the ice. I’ve seen it happen on occasion, and I believe that he’ll be more willing to do so once he adds some muscle, but it’s still something to take note of. I’ve already used this clip, but I feel that I should use it again to illustrate what I mean. Lisowsky can start plays along the perimeter and cut to the middle when he notices an opening.
I would love to see Lisowsky make these types of plays more often. He’s a much more effective player when he’s shooting from closer to the middle of the slot rather than the perimeter or the half wall.
Lisowsky has the ability to score 20 or more goals at the NHL level due to how good of a shooter he is. His relentless pursuit of offense, work ethic and speed will make him an enticing player for NHL teams at the draft. This is a player that can fill a role in a team’s middle six as well as their power play given how skilled he is. The question surrounding most smaller forwards is whether or not they will be able to remain as effective once the competition ramps up and the play becomes more physical. I’m less worried about how Lisowsky will adapt to the professional game than I am with some other smaller forwards, but I still have my questions. Lisowsky will need to gain more strength and attack the middle of the ice more often if he is to become an NHL player.
Given his potential as a goal scorer and a threat in transition, I would rank Lisowsky somewhere in the 65-75 range for the upcoming draft. His goal scoring ability is something that NHL teams will covet, but his average-at-best passing and overall size will be a cause for concern for some teams. This is a player that would thrive on a team such as Tampa Bay. Lisowsky isn’t as dynamic of a player like Brayden Point, but he does have a similar build and he’s able to become a sniper. Taking all of Lisowsky’s traits into consideration, this is a player that I’d be banging the table for on draft day if he is still available late in the second or third round. The odds of you finding another player with as much upside as Lisowsky at that point are slim to none. This all goes back to what I was talking about at the beginning of the profile, after all. If you have the opportunity to draft two players with the same odds of making it to the NHL, are you taking the one capable of 20+ goals and 40 points or the fourth line player?
Lisowsky is a player that has been excellent on the power play this season, but I’ve been impressed with his play at even strength. As of April 2, only 17 of Lisowsky’s 55 points have come on the power play this season. Most of his work has been done at even strength, which is a good sign for his future in the NHL. Typically, when the majority of a player’s production is on the power play, it tends to raise some concerns about that player’s effectiveness at even strength.
From what I’ve seen, Lisowsky is a player that could hit 20+ goals and roughly 40+ points at the NHL level in his prime. He’ll likely play on a team’s third line and see time on the second power play unit. I don’t see first line levels of skill anywhere in his game, and while his shot is excellent, the other aspects of his game will likely keep him in a third line role. I don’t see Lisowsky performing well in a fourth line role at the NHL level. Almost every team in the league uses their fourth line as a line to grind and wear the opposition down in the offensive zone or as a shutdown defensive line. I don’t see Lisowsky filling either role at the NHL level. He’s more of a middle six scorer. If Lisowsky doesn’t make it in the NHL, I could see him having a successful career in the AHL, similar to the likes of Andrew Poturalski. All in all, Lisowsky has legitimate upside and is a player that I’d love to have in my pipeline if I were an NHL executive. You’ll be hard pressed to get more value out of your pick at that point in the draft.
April 2, 2022
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Matthew Somma. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @Mattsomma12.
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