Brennans freaking out, but thats a good thing

Robin Short
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If rankings hold true, hell be the first Fog Devil taken in the NHL Entry Draft

The National Hockey Leagues central Scouting Bureau has St. Johns Fog Devils rearguard T.J. Brennan ranked 29th overall among North American forwards and defencemen. Telegram file photo

Barring trades or upheaval through a series of surprise picks, its quite likely T.J. Brennan will be a late-second or third-round selection at the 2007 NHL Entry Draft which begins today with Round 1 selections in Columbus, Ohio.

Not bad considering the St. Johns Fog Devils defenceman faced an uncertain hockey future just a year ago.

Never in a million years did I think Id be at this point, Brennan said this week from his Moorestown, N.J., home.

Im freaking out just to be even mentioned as a possible first rounder.

So I keep telling myself how fortunate I am.

Brennan is ranked 29th overall by NHL Central Scouting heading into todays draft. Those rankings, however, do not include players playing in Europe or goaltenders.

The highly-regarded International Scouting Service has Brennan pegged in the 54th overall spot, or late in the second round. ISS rankings include Euros, but not goalies.

If the ratings are accurate, Brennan will become the first Fog Devil ever selected by an NHL team unless you stretch the point and include Swedish forward Niklas Bergfors, who was drafted by St. Johns before being taken by the New Jersey Devils in the 2005 Entry Draft. However, Bergfors turned pro at 18 and never played a regular-season game with the Fog Devils.

Brennan was a little-known product of the Philadelphia Little Flyers program this time last year weighing his hockey options. Not that there were a lot. NCAA recruiters werent exactly knocking down his door and he had been passed over in the Ontario Hockey League midget draft (the Pennsylvania/New Jersey region is OHL territory).

Because he had been ignored by OHL teams, Brennan was no longer considered hands-off by Quebec Major Junior Hockey League teams. Fog Devils scout Joe Canale liked Brennan and the 6-foot, 200-pound defenceman was offered a tryout by St. Johns with no guarantees.

All Brennan did was score 16 goals and 41 points in 68 St. Johns games, leading QMJHL rookie blueliners in points. He was named the leagues top defensive rookie, but was denied a spot on the Qs all-rookie team for inexplicable reason.

Ive got to tell you, said the 18-year-old Brennan, this is all new to me. And its an unbelievable feeling.

He talked to 16 or 17 teams at the NHLs draft combine earlier this month in Toronto where more than 100 draft-eligible players from around the world gathered to be showcased.

He had a psychological test for the New York Islanders and a meeting with the Buffalo Sabres planned for Thursday. More meetings are expected today in advance of the draft, which begins 8:30 p.m. NT (TSN).

A good skater who is not afraid to hit, Brennan should be capable of adapting to a new brand of hockey, one that places an emphasis on speed and puck movement.

I think I have a little bit (of speed), he said. I dont care which team picks me. I just want a chance to show someone what I have.

Brennan wont have a lot of time to relax this summer. Hes got the U.S. national junior teams summer camp Aug. 3-12 in Lake Placid followed by the Fog Devils training camp which opens mid-August. Then its the rookie camp of the NHL team which selects him this weekend.

Brennan isnt the only Fog Devil ranked by Central Scouting.

Captain Matt Fillier is ranked 49th overall followed by Mario Kempe 50th, Jean-Simon Allard 54th and Nick Layton 150th.

The only Newfoundlander ranked is Robert Slaney of Upper Island Cove. A forward for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles of the QMJHL, Slaney is 126th overall on the CSB list.

Organizations: NHL, ISS, Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Ontario Hockey League New Jersey Devils Philadelphia Little Flyers NCAA New York Islanders Buffalo Sabres

Geographic location: Columbus, Ohio, Moorestown, N.J., Europe Pennsylvania New Jersey OHL territory Toronto U.S. Lake Placid Upper Island Cove

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