Weight: 174 lbs.
Drafted: 3rd Round, 2013
Last Year's Ranking: Not Ranked
We have another new addition to this year's list as defenseman Brett Pesce comes in at #24 in the Hurricanes Top 25 Under 25. Being a 2013 draft pick, Hurricanes fans are still learning about Pesce, but I think most of the fanbase will know about him this time last year. He played a pretty big role on a good New Hampshire Wildcats team last year and he was only a freshman. In Rissanen's profile, I mentioned how advanced he was compared to some of the team's other defense prospects and the same can be said about Pesce. He is the same age as a lot of USHL and EJHL players and was a top-four defenseman on an NCAA club that was one game away from the Frozen Four last year. That alone is impressive enough, but what else about Pesce's game stands out?
Judging from scouting reports and the videos I've watched, Pesce's a fundamentally sound player and his strong hockey sense is what made his a solid shutdown defenseman last year. He skates well and can close gaps on opposing forwards well because of that. He's also uses his stick well to break up passes and plays the body when needed. The main things scouts have noted about him is that he always knows where to be on the ice and he plays the game like a veteran, despite him being only 18. Above all, that is what sets him apart from some other defensemen in Carolina's system and why he could turn into a very good NHL player somewhere down the line.
Pesce still has a bit of work to do before fans can get overly excited about his future. It's worth remembering that he was only a freshman in college last year and it could be at least a few more years until he's in the AHL. Not rushing him is probably for the best because as good as he was last year, it's been noted that he has a few things he can improve on. His offense being the first thing on most scouts lists. Pesce is a mobile defenseman, but he had only one goal and six points in 38 games last year. Not producing offensively isn't the end of the world if you're a shutdown defenseman, especially if you can make good passes out of your own zone, but it never hurts to add another dimension to your game. He's also pretty skinny for someone with a 6'3" frame, although that can change as he gets older and stronger.
Since Pesce's career is still in its beginning stages, tracking his progress is a little difficult. The fact that he played a big role on an NCAA team in his freshman year says a lot about where he is now, but the next three years are going to be just as important. Will Pesce continue to evolve as a player and take on a bigger role next year? Will he be more effective offensively than he was this year or continue to be just a stay-at-home defenseman? At this point, you really can't say because he's still young and has room to grow as a player, but the future is bright for him.
After the jump, we'll look at his career thus far and what direction it could go in these next few years.
|2008-09||14||North Jersey Avalanche||AYHL||26||5||10||15||0.58|
|2009-10||15||North Jersey Avalanche||AYHL||32||2||11||13||0.41|
|2010-11||16||North Jersey Avalanche||AYHL||20||9||18||27||1.35|
|2011-12||17||New Jersey Hitmen||EJHL||17||1||5||6||0.35|
|2012-13||18||New Hampshire Wildcats||NCAA||38||1||5||6||0.16|
Stats taken from Elite Prospects
I really don't like judging defensemen based on goals & points, but Pesce's numbers at junior hockey shows that he has some offensive potential. Pesce's capable of moving the puck and is skates well, so he definitely has the tools to be more effective offensively than his point total indicates. He produced more in youth hockey as he got older and he could do the same in college and the NHL. That being said, Pesce has a good enough hockey sense and defensive acumen to get by without posting a lot of points. it would be nice to see him improve there, though.
What happens over the next few years will give us a better idea of Pesce's future but right now, there are a lot of possibilities for him. Compared to other 18 year olds with similar body types who were drafted out of the NCAA, Pesce's numbers fall on the lower end of the spectrum. I'm not sure how much that means since points only mean so much for a shutdown defenseman, but this could change in another couple of years. It's also uncertain how long he'll stay in college and that will have an impact on how the rest of his career goes, as some defensemen tend to peak earlier than others. Currently, the possibilities for Pesce range from career AHLer to Scott Lachance, so that doesn't really help narrow the scope at all, other than indicate that he could be in the NHL someday.
Overall, Pesce looks like a very good prospect with a lot of room to grow and what happens in these next few years will give us a better idea of what he can be at the NHL level. At this moment, Pesce's definitely ahead of the game compared to other prospects his age and that should be very encouraging for Carolina fans.