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Brink's hockey IQ, competitiveness make him top prospect for 2019 Draft

Forward prospect has skill set, approach to game similar to Hurricanes' Williams

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Bobby Brink of Sioux City in the United States Hockey League has something in common with a Boston Bruins Hall of Fame defenseman.

"My middle name is Orr, after Bobby Orr, because my dad played hockey and loved Bobby Orr," Brink said. "I think being named after one of the best players in the history of hockey is pretty cool actually."

While Bobby Orr Brink doesn't play the same position as the eight-time Norris Trophy winner, the 17-year-old forward could be a first-round pick in the 2019 NHL Draft at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on June 21 (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVAS). Rounds 2-7 are June 22 (1 p.m. ET; NHLN, SN).

 

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The 5-foot-8, 165-pound right wing missed 12 games with a fractured left ankle but was named USHL Forward of the Year after finishing fourth in the league with 68 points, second with 35 goals and first with nine game-winning goals in 43 games. His 1.58 points per game average led the league among players with 25 or more games.

"My hockey IQ, vision, puck skills and shot are my greatest assets and I'll try to use them to my advantage to score goals and set up players," Brink said. "I think I play a lot like [Mitchell] Marner in Toronto. That's who I try to model my game after."

Brink is No. 19 in NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters and is considered by many as a player who will excel at the next level because of his tremendous hockey instincts.

"He checks off the boxes for what you need at the next level," David Gregory of NHL Central Scouting said. "He thinks the game very well and processes it quickly so that he can have an effect from any zone. He competes very hard and his size will not hold him back in any situation. He's fearless in traffic and even uses that elite hockey sense to take advantage of situations because he competes hard.

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"He can be on the right side of the puck and come out of a 1-on-1 battle with a bigger player using those assets."

Prior to joining Sioux City full-time this season, Brink helped lead Minnetonka High School to its first Minnesota state title in 2017-18. He had a goal and an assist in a 5-2 win against Duluth East in the Class AA championship game in front of 18,914 fans at Xcel Energy Center, home of the Minnesota Wild. 

He said winning a state championship in front of such a large crowd has been one of the greatest moments of his career so far.

"Winning a state tournament is such a big deal for someone from the state of Minnesota because it's something you dream about your whole life if you play hockey," he said.

Andy Brink, Bobby's father, played four seasons at the University of Minnesota (1992-96), but Bobby is accelerating his academics this summer to continue his career at the University of Denver in the fall.

"I was a huge Gophers fan growing up, but when I visited Denver and saw what it was all about, saw the atmosphere around the rink, it felt like home and a great place to be," Brink said.

In addition to his USHL success Brink also had six points (three goals, three assists) in five games with USA Hockey's National Team Development Program Under-18 team this season.

"He fit in great and was a really good addition to our team when he played," said NTDP center Jack Hughes, the projected No. 1 pick in the 2019 Draft. "He played with our Under-17 team in 2017-18 (two assists in eight games) and fit in really well and his game kind of added another element of scoring. He was a really good piece for us."

Despite coming down with the flu at the end of the USHL playoffs, Brink helped the United States win the bronze medal at the 2019 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Sweden with six points (three goals, three assists) in five games.

"I wouldn't have missed that opportunity; it was an honor to play with that team," Brink said. "I got the flu driving home from our playoff game but flew out to Sweden the next day and jumped into the game a couple hours after I landed."

Brink had two assists in his first game, a 6-3 win against Russia in the second preliminary-round game.

"Bobby's a real competitive kid and he's ridiculously smart," said John Wroblewski, who coached Brink with the NTDP and at the World U-18 Championship. "He could pick up a drill or system tweak very quickly. He shows a lot of patience yet urgency in his game and reminds me a lot of Justin Williams of the Carolina Hurricanes."

 

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