Moose Jaw Warriors centre Brayden Point grew up hearing critics doubt him because of his smaller stature. So as a 5-foot-9, 160-pound 17-year-old, he isn’t surprised to hear his naysayers question whether he will be able to transition his game from major junior to the NHL.
“I’ve heard people doubt me because of my size my whole life,” says Point, who turns 18 in March. “I remember they used to say I wouldn’t be able to keep on scoring like I was once I hit the hitting level. Then I didn’t slow down so people would say bantam, then midget and now my next step is the NHL. I don’t let it bother me – it’s more just motivation.”
Point isn’t the first undersized skilled forward to come out of Moose Jaw. Former 50-goal scorer Theoren Fleury – who retired at 5-foot-6, 180-pounds – spent his junior days in a Warriors sweater. Although Fleury’s accomplishments do inspire Point, he sees Buffalo Sabres centre Tyler Ennis – who stands 5-foot-9, 169-pounds – as his role model of choice.
“Fleury is a great example of a guy who was small and defied the odds,” says Point, who’s ranked 53rd among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting Service. “But I more look up to (Buffalo Sabres centre) Tyler Ennis. He’s a skilled and smart player who does a lot of the little things right. I think he’s a good comparable for whom I want to play like.”
Even though this is only Point’s second year in the Dub full-time, he started turning heads as an underage in 2011-12 as a playoff call up. He dazzled spectators with his elusiveness and craftiness, scoring seven goals and 10 points in 14 games along the way.
“I didn’t expect to score like that at all,” says Point. “I just wanted to play hard and hopefully make a good impression on the coaches. The goals were a bonus and it gave me confidence going into my rookie season.”
During that underage stint, Point feels he learned valuable insight from how Florida Panthers first-rounder Quinton Howden and then-overagers James Henry and Cam Braes conducted themselves.
“I learned a lot from Howden and other guys like Braes and Henry,” he says. “They had great work ethic and I learned from how they work in practice and prepare for games and they would give me tips on stuff. It was a great experience for me.”
This year, Point has solidified himself as an elite talent in the upper echelon of scorers with 26 goals and 59 points in 54 contests on the rebuilding Warriors. The Calgary, Alta., native is ‘happy’ with his point production, but he believes his sophomore season is just a sign of things to come from him.
“The year has been going okay, as a team I hoped he would have been doing better,” says Point on the 13-31-3-5 Warriors. “But I’ve been happy with my year so far. I want to move forward in my game every year and I’ve improved some areas in my game this year. I think I’ll do the same next year and just keep on growing.”
1. How would you describe yourself as a player?
“I think I’m a smart and skilled player. I try to be quick on the draw and am a player that can keep the puck on my stick and be patient for a good play.”
2. Several Calgary natives have been selected high in the NHL entry draft lately such as Calgary Flames first-round pick Morgan Klimchuk, Vancouver Canucks first-round pick Hunter Shinkaruk and Winnipeg Jets first-round pick Josh Morrissey. Why do you think Cowtown has been producing so much talent lately?
“I think it’s because there are many great camps and coaches there. Plus with so many good players, it pushes you to improve because you’re up against good players. So I think there’s a lot of reasons for it.”
3. Who’s your favourite NHL team?
“I like the Vancouver Canucks. I just like them because I looked up to Markus Naslund when he was playing for them.”
4. What type of music do you like to listen to before a game?
“I’m not picky. I like anything that’s light and not too hard. I guess anything light rock works for me.”
5. What’s your favourite movie or TV show?
“I’m high on Captain Phillips. I just watched it and I thought it was a pretty good movie. It kept me interested throughout the whole thing. But for TV, I don’t really have one.”
Kelly Friesen is a Buzzing the Net columnist for Yahoo! Sports. Follow him on Twitter @KellyFriesen