Prospect Update: Brandon Montour

Photo: San Diego Gulls

Photo: San Diego Gulls

By Thomas Harrington

Since being drafted in the second round (55th overall) two years ago, no Anaheim prospect has seen their standing rise as quickly as Brandon Montour’s has. He’s gone from one of Anaheim’s many defensive prospects to arguably their second best defensive prospect and one of the top two or three prospects that Anaheim has.

Last year was Montour’s first full professional season. He had made his AHL debut the season before but only appeared in 14 games with the Norfolk Admirals. In his first full AHL season, Montour appeared in all 68 games with San Diego and was tied for the Gulls’ scoring lead, an incredibly impressive feat for a rookie defenseman. Overall, he scored 12 goals and 57 points. Besides being tied for the team lead in points, he also led San Diego with 45 assists, and led San Diego’s defense in goals, assist, and points. In terms of overall scoring, he finished second in points by a defenseman to T.J. Brennan, led all rookie defensemen in scoring, and was third among rookies in scoring in the AHL. Besides his offensive instincts, Montour is also an incredibly fast skater.

In the playoffs, Montour played in all nine of San Diego’s games and recorded five assists. However, he collided with Anton Khudobin at the end of the first round and wasn’t the same after that. He played in every game against Ontario but was clearly not at 100% in that series.

Montour’s offensive skills and potential are through the roof. Right now, Sami Vatanen has the most offensive skill on Anaheim’s blueline. At this point, Montour’s potential could be even greater than that of Vatanen’s. He’s far from a lock to put up 40 or more points in the NHL, but I wouldn’t be shocked if he did. However, he plays a high risk high reward style of play and sometimes does get burned, leading to great scoring chances for the other team. If he wants to have a long NHL career, he’s going to need to make better decisions in terms of when to push the play and when to make the safe play.

This coming season, Montour should once again be one of San Diego’s top defensemen. Depending on how things shake out with Anaheim’s defensive core, he could be the Gulls’ undisputed top defenseman if Shea Theodore makes it to the NHL on a full time basis this season. Also, at some point this season, I think Montour will make his NHL debut. Anaheim’s blueline will run into injury trouble, and while he can still learn and grow in the AHL, I think he’s ready to show what he can do against NHL competition. Theodore is almost guaranteed to get the callup first, but Montour might not be far behind. If Theodore spends most of this season in Anaheim, I think Montour’s season will be very similar to what Theodore did last year: get NHL games throughout the season when the Ducks are down a body on the blueline. However, given the number of defensemen that Anaheim currently has on its roster, it’s entirely possible that Montour’s NHL debut is delayed by a year. If that happens, he once again needs to be one of San Diego’s top scorers and hopefully help lead the Gulls deeper into the playoffs.

Montour currently has two years left on his entry-level contract. Anaheim has so many young defensemen in their system that they will have to trade some of them for help at forward at some point. It’s possible that Montour could be the defensemen that is traded away, but assuming he’s still with Anaheim in two years (and I do think he will be), the Ducks will definitely re-sign him. Even if Montour doesn’t develop into a top pairing defensemen, at the least he’ll be a fantastic right handed shooting, powerplay quarterback, something that teams throughout the NHL covet. Montour has come a long way since he was drafted two years ago, and will likely be in the NHL on a full-time basis in the near future.

My next prospect update will be on Nick Ritchie.

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