Fast, successful hockey has become a bit of a pattern with Brett Howden. No matter where the two-way center went last season, a high-tempo style seemed to follow him.
Howden just finished his junior career with the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors, where coach Tim Hunter liked to push the pace. The Warriors were first overall in the WHL with a 52-15-5 record but lost in the second round to the eventual playoff champs from Swift Current. “We had a great team, and it was a big year for my development,” said Howden, a playmaker who doesn’t mind going to the net for greasy goals. “Playing in the world juniors and just being able to play with the types of guys I got to play with really helped.”
At the 2018 WJC, Howden helped a high-octane Team Canada snag gold in Buffalo by putting up a point per game on an effective third line with Max Comtois (Anaheim) and Alex Formenton (Ottawa). “We didn’t have one or two lines that did everything – we had an equal team that put in the effort every game,” Howden said. “That’s why we had all the success we did. We had four lines that contributed every night.”
This season, Howden will take on a new level of competition when he hits the AHL full time. Two years ago, Howden finished his campaign in the AHL, collecting four points in his first five games with the Syracuse Crunch before getting into three playoff contests. That, of course, was when the big, tenacious kid was still property of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Last season, the Bolts traded Howden to the Rangers as part of the blockbuster Ryan McDonagh deal, which would be a bit of a head-spinner for any teenager with future designs on an NHL job. “It was pretty crazy but cool,” Howden said. “To see the players in that deal and to be a part of it, it’s a lot of pressure. But when there’s pressure, that means there’s a chance for something big to happen, so I’m excited to take that on.”
This story appears in the Prospects Unlimited 2018 issue of The Hockey News magazine.