Normally, by the time draft-eligible freshmen arrive on campus, they know where they’ll be playing after college.
But because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 NHL draft was postponed from late June to early October. The Michigan hockey team’s freshmen have all been in Ann Arbor for months.
“Of course this year is weird because usually it’s in the middle of summer and guys are all back home. They’re all scattered,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said. “What we’d normally do is the coaching staff or a couple coaches will go to the draft and there might be a few players there but this year being as we’re in school, we’re together.”
Three Wolverines were selected in the draft — forwards Brendan Brisson and Thomas Bordeleau and defenseman Jacob Truscott. Michigan commits Jackson Hallum and Ethan Edwards were also selected 91st and 120th overall, respectively.
Brisson was the first and only one of the trio to hear his name called on the first night of the draft. He was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights with the 29th overall pick, making 2020 the 25th consecutive draft in which the Wolverines had a first round pick.
Of Michigan’s three draftees, Brisson was also the only one who celebrated in Ann Arbor. His parents came from California and the Wolverines held a draft party for him, with all of his teammates in attendance.
“I think it’s nice,” Pearson said. “Normally you have a lot of people around you, invite a lot of people wherever the draft is.”
Playing for the Chicago Steel of the USHL last season, Brisson tallied 24 goals and 35 assists in 45 games. He also led all players in scoring in the World Junior A Challenge with 12 points in six games. Brisson profiles as both a strong playmaker and goal scorer, with his one-timer receiving praise from scouts.
While no other players were selected in the first round, Bordeleau didn’t have to wait long on day two for his name to come off the board. The San Jose Sharks selected him 38th overall.
Bordeleau played for the U.S. NTDP last season, leading the team in points with 46 in 47 games. Like Brisson, his strength with the puck gives him the ability to make plays, while his wrist shot makes him a more than capable goal scorer. Both Brisson and Bordeleau will be key contributors on a Michigan team that lost its top three scorers from a season ago.
Rounding out the trio, Truscott had to wait a little longer to hear his name called — he was selected by the Vancouver Canucks in the fifth round, 144th overall. Truscott played last season with Bordeleau for the NTDP where he totaled 21 points in 47 games — second among defensemen, trailing only fifth overall pick Jake Sanderson.
While getting drafted is a once in a lifetime moment for all three, Pearson emphasized that their work isn’t done yet.
“Whether you’re a first round draft pick, now you have to prove while you were a first round draft pick. If you’re not, you’re trying to prove to people why you should have been a higher draft pick,” Pearson said. “So there’s always something to prove, and the work has already started but work even starts more now that you’ve been drafted.
“No one sprinkles magic dust on you when you get drafted and all of a sudden you become a better player. You’re the same player that you were when you walk out of the room as you did when you walk in and where you’re drafted.
“We’re excited for them. It’s an exciting time for them and their families.”