The surest sign forward Brendan Brisson is making an impression at Golden Knights training camp isn’t because he has two goals in his past two games.
It isn’t because he’s been given the chance to play on Jack Eichel’s wing. It’s because that when the Knights trimmed their roster before the Silver Knights’ first practice Monday, Brisson stayed with the NHL group.
The 2020 first-round pick is one of 26 players remaining in camp. The NHL’s roster maximum is 23, so there are only a few cuts remaining before the Knights’ Oct. 10 opener against Seattle.
Brisson still isn’t likely to stick until the banner-raising ceremony that night. But making it this far is a credit to his growth and makes it seem possible he could contribute this season.
“(I’m having) so much fun,” Brisson said. “All the guys have been so good to me. I’m learning a lot. Just trying to get better every day.”
There’s been a clear difference in Brisson’s game from one training camp to the next.
The 21-year-old hasn’t been content to show off only his booming shot and offensive instincts. He’s making more of an effort in the corners and along the boards to win pucks back for his linemates. It’s adding another layer to his game in his second full pro season.
Brisson isn’t perfect in his off-puck habits by any means, but the signs of progress are there. He doesn’t have blazing speed and isn’t imposing at 6 feet tall, so his work ethic every shift will be important if he wants to carve out a long career.
Brisson does have a good role model with the Knights. Coach Bruce Cassidy pointed out one of the team’s best forwards along the walls is right wing Jonathan Marchessault, listed at 5 feet, 9 inches.
“There are details of (Brisson’s) game that we’ve talked about the other day (that) he’ll have to just get better at because it’s the NHL, and that’s very, very normal,” Cassidy said. “That’s not a negative at all. That’s just part of the process.”
The one thing Brisson can remain confident in as he rounds out his game is he knows how to score.
He’s put up gaudy goal totals at just about every level he’s played in. That now includes the NHL preseason.
Jack to Brisson 😮💨 pic.twitter.com/FVO2jngmv7
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) September 28, 2023
Both of Brisson’s goals in the past two games showed off not just his shot but his savvy. His first one Wednesday came as a trailer off the rush. He found open ice at the top of the left circle with Eichel driving into the zone and fired a wrist shot right past goaltender J-F Berube when he got the puck.
Brisson’s second goal Friday — from his signature spot in the right circle on the power play — required him to clean up a faceoff win by center Brett Howden, then hang out in a soft area of the ice waiting to let his one-timer rip.
peanut butter 🤝 jelly
Golden Knights fans 🤝 always loud
Brendan Brisson 🤝 power-play goals pic.twitter.com/v4ocEH2Ycg
— 🏆 – Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) September 30, 2023
“He shoots it so well,” defenseman Nic Hague said. “He’s smart, right? He kind of hangs out in those spots and makes himself available to be in a good position to shoot that puck and made no mistake when he got it.”
Those kind of plays have kept Brisson around even as the training camp numbers dwindle.
He still faces an uphill climb to be with the team at the beginning of the season. The Knights have an open lineup spot at third-line left wing, but Pavel Dorofeyev and Paul Cotter have the edge after contributing as rookies last season. And Maxime Comtois is still in camp on a professional tryout agreement.
Brisson is the only one of the four who hasn’t played in the NHL. He’s also the only one who doesn’t need to go through waivers to get sent to the American Hockey League.
“I still don’t know what’s going to happen next week,” Brisson said Friday. “Just being ready for when my number gets called I feel like is an important thing. Not really looking into it (beyond that).”