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A highlight video scouting report: Damien Brunner

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Damien Brunner goes between the legs. All of the sudden I want some M&Ms.

(I know it’s late. This is what happens when you haven’t had the internet in your house for the past four days.)

Ken Holland is so good he’s signing European players before the Free Agency even starts. And Mike Babcock even says he’s going to be a top-six forward! Good-bye summer of George! Hello Summer of Ken!*

But don’t get too excited about Damien Brunner’s impending signing. First, he’s Swiss. It’s not like he’s Swedish or Finnish. Second, he plays in the Swiss League. No matter how much he dominated the Swiss league or how much his numbers don’t do him justice because it’s a “low-scoring” league, it’s still the Swiss League.

If Mike Babcock says he’s going to be a top-six forward, he’s going to be a top-six forward. Just make sure you study that whole quote before you pencil him in for 40 goals.

“Can he adjust and play the North American game? We’re going to give him every opportunity. He’ll be a top-six forward to start with us and see where he goes with us,” Babcock told MLive.com.

So no one knows whether he will be able to convert to the smaller ice and the harder hitting that comes from the North American game. That’s obvious. He hasn’t played a game yet.  But where is the starting line? Is he a top-six forward at the beginning of training camp? At the first preseason game? At the start of the regular season? Is he even an NHL player?

There’s so many questions. If only we had an online highlight video that gave us all the answers.

Wait a minute! The good folks at Nightmare on Helm Street have dug up these three minutes and 18 seconds of a pure dangle fest garnished with a couple of snipes.

It doesn’t give us the complete revelation we’re looking for, but it does give us a some clues.

From the first Baby Datysuk move he does to start the video, it’s easy to see the hands everybody keeps blabbering about. The wrist shot is good, and he’s got a quick release when he decides to shoot it. He looks like a professional playing with college kids.

The thing is, I’m not sure many of these guys could make a Division I program.

Brunner might be fast, but the way he glides by Swiss defenders, knocking them over with his speed, isn’t an indication of what he can do. Ever watch a five-star running back recruit run past scrawny white kids? This is basically the same thing.

I hate to break it too my huge following in Zurich, but the Swiss League kind of sucks. Goalies flop and defensemen play out of position. During a 2-on-1 no defenseman in the NHL is going to overplay a winger a 20 feet away from him, when the forward is along the boards with no options and then pitch hay bales in a futile attempt to get back:

The days of space, time and going through three guys untouched are gone. A two-on-one is a dump in, not a slapshot goal. And do this against Chicago and you’re headed to the quiet room:

Brunner can be good. He’s just going to take some time to adjust to the NHL. It takes anybody some time to find his spacing on the ice without the Giant M&M logos on the faceoff dot.

*(Gratuitous exclamation points for all!!!!!!!!)

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7 comments on “A highlight video scouting report: Damien Brunner

  1. At 1:56 of this clip, is he scoring on Hasek?

  2. All the goals he scores in this particular highlight reel are against weak Swiss teams who barely/never make the playoffs (Biel, SC Langnau, HC Ambri, Rapperswil) and none against Davos, Zurich or Berne. It might be more interesting for you guys to see him and his team beat the New York Rangers last fall (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D-FvQ0vMgc0) or a highlight reel of his last 4 seasons (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fuYprjQbkk).

    • Janine, you are why the internet is great. If I know who you are and where you lived and it wasn’t creepy I would come to your house and pat you on the back. But this will have to do.

  3. Once you said:
    “I hate to break it too my huge following in Zurich, but the Swiss League kind of sucks. Goalies flop and defensemen play out of position.”

    I think you did not have enough information to judge the swiss league! This evening Swiss will play against Sweden for the gold medal in Stockholm…

    Sorry… but Swiss League don’t sucks!

    • Well, I wrote that nearly a year ago now. Things have changed slightly. I’ll give the Swiss credit, they’re improving rapidly. They played great against the U.S. in the semis. Their first medal since 1953 is a huge accomplishment.

      But I think they’re just at the beginning of rising out of that third tier. In terms of strength of the local league, they’re behind the NHL, the KHL, Sweden’s the Eliteserien, Finland’s SM-liiga and probably a couple of others. When they start consistently competing for medals and the league starts sending more than a handful of players to the NHL, I’ll change my tune completely.

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