Michigan's Gavin Brindley Is A 2023 Draft Prospect Blackhawks Fans Should Watch

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Michigan’s Gavin Brindley Is A 2023 Draft Prospect Blackhawks Fans Should Watch

Chicago Blackhawks

When the University of Michigan takes the ice against Colgate in the NCAA Tournament tonight (7:30 PM CT — ESPNU), most Blackhawks fans tuning in will be interested to watch the one player on their roster whom the Blackhawks have already drafted: center Frank Nazar. And there will be many of us who are also watching Adam Fantilli (…in case he’s available when the Blackhawks pick near the top of the 2023 NHL Draft). But there’s a third Wolverines forward who will have my attention: Gavin Brindley.

As a reminder, the Blackhawks own not only their pick near the top of the draft, but they also own Tampa’s first-round pick (thanks to the Brandon Hagel trade). Chicago will also pick near the top of the second round this year and own three other second-round picks, as well (though the Rangers’ could convert to a first pending their playoff performance).

There are players we need to watch with consideration for those next picks. Brindley is absolutely a guy that has my attention from games I’ve watched to see Nazar and Fantilli; he has skated on the same line as Fantilli a lot this season, and produced at a strong rate as a true, pre-draft eligible freshman. He was honorable mention All-Big Ten as a freshman.

Gavin Brindley Pre-Draft Scout Rankings

When we consider the attributes that the Blackhawks’ front office have clearly targeted in draft choices and trades, there are a few things that immediately stand out: speed, work ethic and versatility. Those have all been hallmarks of Chicago’s NHL roster this season and the players drafted and acquired since Kyle Davidson took over as general manager.

In fact, those traits have appeared to be more significant than size; Davidson has already signed Jalen Luypen (5-10, 155) and drafted Aidan Thompson (5-11, 180), Samuel Savoie (5-10, 189) and Dominic James (5-11, 166). I have noticed Brindley more because of his skill than his size when watching Michigan.

With that in mind, here are a couple quotes that make me believe Brindley could/should be on the Blackhawks’ radar.

Here’s a snippet of what Scott Wheeler at The Athletic had to say about Brindley’s game when he ranked the Michigan forward the No. 25 prospect for the 2023 NHL Draft earlier this month:

Brindley’s a plus-level skater who gets through his extensions quickly (including from a standstill), excels on his edges, rounds corners sharply, and darts around the ice, hunting pucks and pushing through holes. … he just always seems to play well, no matter the role/usage/stage. The beauty of Brindley’s game is that while he may prove talented enough to play in a skill role at the NHL level, he’s got the approach/tools to play an effective bottom-six game too. That will limit concerns about his height (he certainly hasn’t played small in his freshman year so far).

And here’s part of what Corey Pronman, also at The Athletic, wrote about Brindley. Pronman had Brindley ranked No. 34 in his March update of his 2023 NHL Draft prospects.

Between his excellent skating and work ethic, Brindley buzzes around the ice, playing with a ton of pace and giving his best effort nightly. He’s able to make skilled plays at full speed, and plays with courage, going to the net and engaging along the walls. Brindley isn’t a natural scorer which isn’t ideal at his size, but he has good hands and hockey sense and can make plays at higher levels. 

Close your eyes for a moment and imagine Michigan’s top line next season being Nazar-Fantilli-Brindley…

Expectations are that Fantilli will turn pro if/when he’s drafted after Connor Bedard, but there’s a chance he returns to Michigan for a sophomore season; Owen Power did after he was the top overall pick and other top prospects including Luke Hughes, Matty Beniers and Kent Johnson have all gone back after bring high picks. Even if Fantilli does turn pro, Brindley could skate on a line with Nazar in Ann Arbor next year, which would only be an added benefit to the Blackhawks’ development plan for both players.

So if you tune in this evening to watch the Wolverines, keep an eye on Brindley. He might be a player the Blackhawks target in June.

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab