Tim Brent wasn’t in Columbus for the NHL Entry Draft this summer.
Yet, he felt like he hit the jackpot.
June 23 was just a normal day until he got a phone call to inform him he was just traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Stephen Dixon.
“I was probably the most-excited guy in the world on draft day when I got a call and they told me I was traded here,” Brent said. “They have some of the best players in the world on this team and they play such an exciting style that I was really excited about the move.”
The 6-foot, 188-pound center made his NHL debut last season in Anaheim. He played in 15 games for the Stanley Cup-champion Ducks and had one goal. So, Brent was excited to go from a championship team to another top squad.
“Absolutely. Throughout the whole organization, they seem to win. Wilkes-Barre had a good team last year and I am sure they will have an even better team this year,” he said. “Same with the team up top here. They had a real good season last year, but they are looking to build on that and I’d really like to be a part of it.”
Brent appeared in 48 games for Anaheim’s AHL affiliate in Portland. He had 30 points (16+14).
However, Brent, a right-handed shot, knows he needs to rely on his strong face-off and penalty-killing skills to find a spot in Pittsburgh.
“There are not too many open spots here. When you’re a fairly intelligent player, you have to quickly find your niche and I know it’s not going to be a first-line center, by any means,” he said with a laugh. “Winning face-offs and playing well defensively and maybe penalty killing are three things I hope to show in my game this camp. Hopefully those are the things that will help me earn a spot here.”
His ability to win face-offs is a major advantage. He claimed 48.8 percent of his NHL draws last season.
“There are always things you can improve on. Obviously, with a puck-control team here in Pittsburgh, the more face-offs you win, the more the puck is in your hands,” he said. “I think there was a stat that came out that said if you win every face-off in a game, your puck possession time is a full five minutes more than if you lose every face-off. So, that’s a ton of time to have your team’s hands with all the talent we have up front here.”
Brent has had little trouble adjusting to Pittsburgh’s system.
“I wouldn’t say it’s quite similar. Just the talent up front is similar to the talent Anaheim had,” he said. “They just make it easier to play.”
Brent is used to playing with a few Penguins – he was part of Team Canada’s 2004 World Junior Championship squad. Sidney Crosby, Marc-Andre Fleury and Maxime Talbot were all on that team, too.
“I got the opportunity to play with Sid and Max and Fleury at World Juniors a few years ago, so there were a few familiar faces for me coming into camp, but it’s nice to get to know the rest of the guys, too,” he said.