Jeremy Bracco is a good fit for the Toronto Maple Leafs right now
Coming off of a season where he finished second in AHL scoring with 22 goals and 57 assists, Jeremy Bracco may finally have an opportunity to crack a roster spot with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Those who have been following Bracco’s career with the Toronto Marlies know that one of the major reasons why he has not been given the chance to play in the NHL is because of the depth the Leafs currently have on the right wing position.
With a fully healthy roster, Marner, Nylander, and Kapanen have secured their spots on the top three lines for the right side, but after reports on Sunday revealed that Mitch Marner would be out for at least four weeks with an ankle injury, a major opportunity has opened for Bracco.
Power Play Maestro
Bracco is a monster on the power play, which is something the Toronto Maple Leafs have struggled to be consistent with this year. Bracco looks on track to have yet another solid year for the Marlies with 10 points through 13 games so far, and he currently leads the team in power play assists with four, a stat which he finished first in the AHL in last season with 31. (Stats courtesy of TheAHL.com)
The Leafs currently sit 19th in the league on the power play and have scored on just five of their last 40 power play opportunities. Not to say that Bracco would immediately be slotted in somewhere on either power play unit if he were to get called up, but at this point I am open to anything. (Stats courtesy of NHL.com).
Power play assists are a very significant stat when trying to explain Bracco’s style of play. His passing accuracy was in the 87th percentile last season, and in the absence of a player like Mitch Marner, you are missing out on some elite puck distribution, especially on the power play. (Stats courtesy of ICEBERG Sports Analytics).
His skating is also very elusive, and his remarkable edge work is very similar to Jeff Skinner, where he has the ability to open his body up to keep defenders guessing as to whether or not he will shoot or pass.
If Not Now, Then When?
I am genuinely scared that Jeremy Bracco is going to be one of the many Maple Leafs prospects who will get buried in the prospect pool due to the overwhelming amount of young talent they possess, especially on the right wing.
With the Seattle expansion draft coming in June 2021, and with him most likely being eligible for selection, there is not a lot of time for Bracco to solidify himself as a regular with the Leafs. It seems that fans have conceded to the idea that Bracco will be a solid asset in a future trade, and I think that if he does not make his way on the roster at some point this season or next season, that is a very likely outcome.
There are a lot of teams that could benefit from a player like Bracco. I think with the skill set he possesses, and some further development, he could make a case to be a part of an NHL roster.
I think if the Leafs give Bracco the ultimate opportunity to succeed, he may surprise some people. He does have the pass-first mentality that is needed on the Tavares line with Marner out, but I think one of the reasons the Leafs have been reluctant to bring him up in the past is because they know he would not be able to impact the game in the bottom-six role that he would inevitably play in.
What Has Held Him Back?
As much as I love to talk up Bracco’s offensive abilities, at this point in his career I do not think there many other dissectible parts to his game that would consider him to be an overwhelming yes on a top-nine spot for an NHL roster, especially the Leafs.
It is tough to argue when you are talking about a player who is coming off a year where he averaged more than a point per game in the AHL, but there are times when I find Bracco’s style of play to be very one dimensional.
While I do think he could definitely fill a hole that the Leafs lineup needs right now, I think if Bracco wants to become the regular forward in the NHL that he is capable of being, he needs to expand his defensive game, while keeping his point production in tact in order to become a complete NHL-ready winger.
I have been pretty high up on Jeremy Bracco ever since he has joined the organization, and as he continues his success in the AHL, I hope the Leafs take him into consideration during Marner’s absence.