Friday, September 4, 2020

Brayden McNabb Autographed Card

Despite the shot discrepancy, the two most obvious stars of Game 7 between the Vegas Golden Knights and Vancouver Canucks tonight were goalies Robin Lehner (second) and Thatcher Demko (first), who appears like the "real deal", the true next elite goaltender. But if I had to pick a third star, it wouldn't necessarily be Shea Theodore despite the game-winning goal and his title of "only man who can beat Demko"; no, I would probably go with Brayden McNabb instead, for his defensive play and display of courage by stopping two shots with his face and another one with his leg. He's a reason why the Canucks' shot count was so low.

When the Buffalo Sabres selected him in the 2009 draft (third round, 66th overall), he had just completed an impressive season with the Kootenay Ice that saw him provide upwards of half a point per game from the blue line but also accumulate 140 penalty minutes as a bruising presence in his own zone. He was expected to be an eventual solid second-pair defenseman who can replace on the top-two once in a while, and that's what they sold the Los Angeles Kings on in a 2014 deadline trade.

After all, he had been named the Ice's captain for his final year in the WHL and twice made the AHL All-Star Team while with the Sabres' farm team Rochester Americans. At the time of the trade, McNabb had 7 goals, 22 assists, 29 points and 45 penalty minutes with a +9 rating in just 38 AHL games, but he had suffered his first concussion while with Buffalo.

He spent three full seasons with the Kings, but health was a bit of an issue in 2016-17, as he only suited up in 49 games, although it was enough of a look for the Golden Knights, who selected him in that summer's expansion draft. He's been a steady presence ever since, perhaps a little less offensively-inclined than the Sabres had first hoped he would become, but an essential player nonetheless.

And he's still just 29 years old right now, so he does have the room to grow into two or three 25-to-30-point seasons, particularly if the team wants to continue playing a strong offensive game with three scoring lines.

Here he is wearing Kootenay's black (away) uniform, on card #122 from In The Game's 2009-10 Heroes And Prospects set:
He signed it in black sharpie during his time in the AHL (2011-2014). My hope is to get him to sign his Vegas Inaugural Set card for me in the future.

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