As a sophomore, Bobby Brink helped lead his Minnetonka High School team to the 2018 Class AA state championship. Let’s Play Hockey photo by Mike Thill
Photo: Nick Wosika
“Hard working undersized winger with excellent feet, hands and goal scoring ability. Makes offense easy with his high hockey IQ, creativity, quickness and great hands that send precision attempts on the net. Was awarded the MVP of the World Junior A Challenge 2018 tournament. Displays a deadly one-timer. Easily finds the opposite side winger with his cross ice feed.”
Those are the words of Bill Plasczek of drafttime.com, who has Excelsior, Minn., native Bobby Brink slated to go No. 31 in the first round to the Boston Bruins.
Brink is ranked as the top Minnesotan entering this year’s NHL Entry Draft, which will be held June 21-22 in Vancouver.
Another site calls Brink undersized and an interesting case study, yet recognize his unique skills to have him pegged going 26th overall. Other sites have him as high as No. 12.
At 5-10 and 165 pounds, Brink may seem undersized to be a potential NHL star. But the trend in professional hockey has geared more towards speed and skill than size and toughness. Look no further than projected No. 1 pick Jack Hughes, who is roughly the same size as Brink.
Brink’s path to the NHL Draft started young when he grew up skating with his dad, Andy, who played for the University of Minnesota after a stellar high school career in Bemidji.
“I constantly had a stick in my hand when I was little,” Bobby said. “I fell in love with hockey pretty much right away.”
His dad coached him during his youth years and Brink finally started thinking he was a good player when he made the Minnetonka High School team as a freshman. Not only did he make the team, he played an integral role and notched 26 points. A year later, he and his teammates hoisted the state championship trophy.
“Winning the state tourney will always be one of the most special moments of my life,” Brink said. “You grow up dreaming of playing in the tourney and to make it a reality is a pretty special thing. Playing for Minnetonka will always bring special memories. Playing with my best friends and for my community is one of the coolest things you can do.”
But that would be Brink’s last season with Minnetonka as he opted to play in Sioux City, Iowa in the United States Hockey League (USHL) in 2018, which would have been his junior season in high school.
“I thought it was the best decision for my development to move onto juniors,” he said. “High school hockey is really good, but I felt I needed to push myself and play against the strongest competition I could.”
He made an immediate impact, despite being one of the youngest players in the league, finishing third in scoring with 35 goals and 33 assists in just 43 games.
“I had a great experience in the USHL,” he said. “I had great teammates and coaches down in Sioux City.”
He said the major differences were playing against older players and having to adapt to a game that is more physical and a little faster. But he adapted well and started turning heads of NHL scouts who took notice of the young player with strong hockey sense and skills.
“I think my greatest strengths are probably my hockey IQ and puck skills,” Brink said. “I think the game well and use my hands, passing and shooting to my advantage.”
If there is a knock on his game, it is that he isn’t considered an elite skater with top-end speed. But everywhere he has played he has produced, and now he will get the opportunity to prove that at the Division I level where he will play for the University of Denver.
Brink said his decision to play there came down to the coaches and the chance to compete for a national championship.
“They develop players every year, and every year they are a top team in the nation competing for a national championship,” he said.
Brink’s ultimate goal is to play in the NHL and win a Stanley Cup. He expects to be drafted in the mid to late first round. In the meantime, he continues his training to be the best he can be by skating four to five times a week on top of working out off the ice four to five times a week.
Brink won’t turn 18 until July 8. By then, he will know what NHL team he will be working towards joining in the years to come.
“I just try to work hard and have fun,” Brink said. “I am motivated getting to the NHL and winning a Stanley Cup. I know there are a lot of guys from around the world working hard, so I just have to work harder.”
Other Minnesotans to watch for in the 2019 NHL Draft
Jackson LaCombe, D, Shattuck-St. Mary’s (Eden Prairie)
The 6-1, 185-pound defenseman put up some hefty numbers playing for Shattuck-St. Mary’s this past season, notching 22 goals and 67 assists in 54 games. Size and skill make him a solid prospect as a two-way defenseman. LaCombe is committed to play at the University of Minnesota.
Drew Helleson, D, U.S. Under-18 Team (Farmington)
At 6-3 and 193 pounds, Helleson, like LaCombe, possesses size and skill and is a solid blueliner ranked as high as No. 29 by www.hockeyprospects.com. Another product of Shattuck-St. Mary’s, Helleson played this past season with the U.S. Under-18 team. He will play college hockey at Boston College.
Grant Silianoff, RW, Cedar Rapids (USHL) (Edina)
The Edina native also attended Shattuck-St. Mary’s before heading to the USHL’s Cedar Rapids Roughriders where he put up solid numbers with 18 goals and 41 points in 55 games. He is slated to attend the University of Notre Dame.
Mike Koster, D, Chaska HS
Koster has great skating and puck handling skills and great vision for the ice. The Reed Larson Award winner as the top high school senior defenseman in Minnesota in 2019, he notched 59 points in 24 games, including 19 goals. He will be attending the University of Minnesota. A bit undersized at 5-9 for a defenseman, think of him as a potential lefthanded version of Jared Spurgeon.
Will Francis, D, Cedar Rapids (USHL) (Shoreview)
Francis played at Centennial High School before joining Cedar Rapids this past season. A steady, stay-at-home blueliner, his 6-5 frame takes up space in the defensive zone and gives him a long reach to help defend against the rush. He will attend the University of Minnesota Duluth.
Bryce Brodzinski, RW, Blaine HS
This year’s Mr. Hockey winner, Brodzinski has drawn raves from some scouts, one who said he reminds him of T.J. Oshie. Brodzinski has scored 169 points in his high school career, including 76 as a senior. He also fared well in a brief stint in the USHL where he scored 17 points in 19 games. He will be attending the University of Minnesota.
Aaron Huglen, C, Roseau HS
He notched 52 points as a senior at Roseau High School and has the potential to be a late round draft pick this year. He will attend the University of Minnesota.
Ryder Donovan, C, Duluth East HS
Good size and skill make him a potential mid to late round pick. Has a lot of upside and will only get better under the coaching staff at the University of Wisconsin.
Rhett Pitlick, LW, Chaska HS
One of the standout players at the 2018 State of Hockey Prospects Game, Pitlick comes from strong bloodlines (his father Lance is a former NHL defenseman) and has all the tools to evolve into a very good player at the next level. He will attend the University of Minnesota and some mock drafts have him going as high as the third round.