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NHL Draft

Howden happy following in brother's footsteps

Brett Howden ranked No. 27 by NHL Central Scouting

by Aaron Vickers / Correspondent

Every Thursday, will look ahead to the 2016 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.

Brett Howden can recall the 2010 NHL Draft at Staples Center in Los Angeles like it was yesterday.

He remembers catching a glimpse of Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, and the suspense of whether Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin would be selected No. 1. Hall ended up going first to the Edmonton Oilers and Seguin No. 2 to the Boston Bruins.

More significantly for Brett was that his older brother Quinton Howden was selected by the Florida Panthers with the No. 25 pick in the first round.

"I just remember looking around and seeing all the teams and guys like Crosby are there, and you look back at Hall and Seguin and all these star players are there who are now stars in the [NHL]," Brett said. "I got to see so many amazing players go up on that stage, my brother being one of them. That's something I'll always remember.

"It's incredible to think I was able to go to that with him. It's cool because I've been supporting him his whole life. It was pretty special. We were just sweating and sweating. Quinton was obviously way more nervous, but we were nervous for him."

Quinton said he doesn't remember a lot of that day as it pertains to Brett, who was 12 at the time. After all, he was a little busy walking on stage, meeting NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, and shaking the hand of Florida general manager Dale Tallon. He then ran the gauntlet of television and radio interviews, media availabilities, autograph sessions and the subsequent celebrations with the Florida staff.

As Brett Howden, a top prospect for the 2016 NHL Draft, approaches his big day, the memories return to Quinton, now 24 and in his third season with the Panthers.

"Honestly, I remember being really nervous, sweating a lot," he said. "I just remember my family being there. You don't really think of the whole process and the whole crowd being there and everybody watching, or TV. It's just a special moment.

"You know as soon as you get on stage and [Commissioner Bettman] says, 'Welcome to the NHL,' it hits you right then and makes you think you're never going to forget that moment. It's something that happens so quickly. It's so surreal. I got to go right down and see [my family] right after with the jersey and spend the whole night with them and the staff of the Panthers."

Brett now is hoping for his moment. The 6-foot-2, 193-pound center for Moose Jaw in the Western Hockey League is No. 27 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters eligible for the 2016 draft.

"You're always thinking about it and it's in the back of your head," Brett said. "I try to just not worry about it and just play hockey and have fun. I think if I'm having fun and not worrying about it I'm playing better. I just try to leave it out of my head and worry about the task at hand."

It wouldn't be the first time Brett has followed Quinton.

Quinton spent parts of five seasons with Moose Jaw and had 111 goals and 239 points in 244 games. Brett, in his third season with Moose Jaw, has 22 goals and 58 points in 59 games this season, and 45 goals and 105 points in 132 career games.

Brett, like his brother, wears No. 21.

"Through his years in Moose Jaw I was almost there every second weekend with my dad watching from ice level back in the Crushed Can [Moose Jaw Civic Center, the team's former home]," Brett said. "I remember being there all the time and him being under stress sometimes and my dad calming him down."

Brett was there to help too.

"He studied and did a lot more work and homework than I did. I'll never forget," Quinton said. "He would go back and watch games on his own and just watch certain plays and would be like, 'Remember that move you did around that [defenseman]? Show me that.' He analyzed the game so much, in such a good way. He was so far ahead of everybody that he was playing against because he would watch every game and study and then go practice it."

Brett has watched as Quinton has started to carve a niche as an NHL player. But since turning pro he's spent more time with San Antonio in the American Hockey League than with the Panthers.

Quinton hopes Brett has been paying attention to that too, because the lesson learned is that there are no guarantees after draft day.

"He knows that. He's smart," Quinton said. "He was there. He was getting to watch Seguin, Hall and stuff. He's seen them. They're all-star players in this League and he's watched all their highlights. He's also seen my shoes first-hand. I went through the AHL process.

"It's taken me a few years to kind of get the pro experience under my belt. It's paid off. It's for the best. I definitely believe it helped me. He knows that."

Quinton said he sends Brett reminders often.

"I keep telling him just go to [NHL training] camp that year and be ready because if you're what they need the spot is there," he said. "I think that calms him down and makes him realize he just has to play consistent and be strong."

There's nothing Quinton would rather see more than his little brother on stage, receiving a handshake from Commissioner Bettman and posing for pictures with the NHL managerial team that has put its faith in him.

"That's ideal, right?" Quinton said. "You kind of dream of both of us going through that experience together and doing the same thing. It'd be something pretty cool.

"But that's not an expectation. That's something that happens if everything's right. He knows that too. He knows that if he wants it he's got to go out and work hard and makes sure he deserves it."

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