Friday, August 7, 2015

Brady Vail Autographed Card

Brady Vail is an American hockey player; some sources have him born in Hendersonville, NC, while others peg him as hailing from Palm City, Florida, but his family has moved along with him every step of his hockey career, from the time he was 13 with the Detroit Compuware Ambassadors organization to the Waterloo Black Hawks in the USHL to his time in the OHL with the Windsor Spitfires, whence he was drafted by the Montréal Canadiens (fourth round, 94th overall, in 2012).

 His head coach in Windsor, former NHLer Bob Boughner, had this to say ahead of his being drafted: "He's a player that I can use in a lot of different situations. He's a player I have a lot of trust in. He can play top-end minutes, he's in very good shape and a great skater. That allows him to play heavy minutes. I think he's responsible in his own end and plays against top lines in a shut-down role. He also has offense to his game."

More objective scouts hinted that he might be more of a long-term project because while he was "good at everything", he didn't "excel at anything". As someone who was billed a "tireless worker", I was expecting the 6'1'', 190-pound center to have the edge of a Brendan Gallagher, but that's not what I saw in the handful of games and rookie camp scrimmages I did see. Still, I was surprised - as were a few Habs bloggers - when the Canadiens opted not to sign him to an entry-level deal last summer, leading to his signing an AHL deal with the Toronto Marlies and spending most of the season with the ECHL's Orlando Solar Bears, with whom he registered 15 goals 14 assists, 29 points and 33 penalty minutes in 64 games (plus 4 goals including a game-winner in 5 playoff games).

Maybe he'll develop into a fourth-line checking specialist who can contribute a little offensively at the NHL level, though we seem to be a far cry from the 83-point season he had in the OHL in 2013-14 at this point. He carried a reputation for not being in the best possible shape, but the Habs usually give their kids a few chances to make up for rookie mistakes, so maybe they saw something that made them shy away from him, or didn't have the patience to have him make his way up from the ECHL to the AHL to the NHL over a long stretch.

Here he is wearing the Spitfires' red uniform, from In The Game's 2012-13 Heroes And Prospects set (it's card #227 in the collection):
He signed it while finishing off the 2012-13 season with the Hamilton Bulldogs, in blue sharpie.

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