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2023 NHL Draft: Getting to know Brandon Svoboda

Brandon Svoboda
Photo Courtesy Youngstown Phantoms

One of the first things that will strike you when you see Brandon Svoboda is that he’s happy to be here. His grin charmed Sharks fans on Day 2 of the NHL Draft and hasn’t seemed to go away since.

It’s an attitude that may not worked on other NHL teams, but fits right in here in San Jose, where players work hard but enjoy life as well. Svoboda said during development camp earlier this month that that’s the attitude he tries to take off the ice.

“I think you can have two mindsets. You can have a different mindset off the ice and when you get on the ice, it’s a different mindset; it’s game time. I think you can switch between the two,” Svoboda said.

The Sharks saw something they liked in the young 18-year-old. Instead of waiting to see if he dropped lower in the draft, San Jose traded up to pick Svoboda at 71. It might be a bit of a stretch. While NHL Central Scouting ranked Svoboda 66th among North American skaters, all of the other scouts had him ranked a bit lower than where the Sharks took him. Smaht Hockey had Svoboda ranked at 95th, while Daily Faceoff ranked the teen at 108th and The Athletic’s Corey Pronman ranked him 79th.

Position: Center
Age: 18
Date of Birth: Feb. 4, 2005
Height: 6-foot-3
Weight: 212 lbs.
Shoots: Right
Youngstown Phantoms (USHL): 59 games, 26 points (16 G, 10 A)
Youngstown Phantoms (USHL) Playoffs: 9 games, 1 point (1 G, 0 A)
2023-24 team: Boston University

When players reach this point of the draft, you’re looking for diamonds in the rough, so there were worse shots that the Sharks could have taken. Svoboda did not put up numbers that will knock you over while playing for the Youngstown Phantoms of the USHL last season, but they were respectable. The young forward had 26 points in 59 games, including 16 goals.

What do the scouts say about Svoboda’s game?

Svoboda’s size offers some intriguing potential for the Sharks. To say he is a big kid would be putting it lightly. Svoboda is 6-foot-3 and already weighs in at 212 pounds. According to Elite Prospects, Svoboda puts that large frame to good use.

“The standard Svoboda games goes something along these lines: Battling around the net-front, getting open inside space, hard work on the forecheck, proactive defence, and one display of exciting passing display,” wrote Elite Prospects. “Some of the plays he pulls off are complex, passes that require vision, confidence, and manipulating the defender to create the lane. He also has a powerful outside leg wrister, narrowing his stance and putting his body weight behind the shot.”

Corey Pronman of The Athletic also says that Svoboda uses his size well but is looking for consistency in Svoboda’s game. The young forward needs to sharpen his hockey sense if he plans to make it at hockey’s highest level.

“Svoboda is an intriguing athlete. He’s 6-foot-3 and skates well with a toolkit that should work versus better players. He shows flashes of strong offensive skill. His game is quite inconsistent though,” wrote Pronman. “I don’t see a ton of hockey sense in him and his effort is just OK. If it ever clicks for him he has potential to be a player and thus I think he’s worth a gamble at some point in the draft because his toolkit is rare after the top group of players.”

When asked what assets he brings to the table, Svoboda says it’s his ability to play a 200-foot game and his defense. He called himself a “power forward” with “smooth skating” and an offensive ability to shoot the puck.

What’s next for Svoboda?

Svoboda will head to Boston University to play college hockey. The forward will likely take more time to develop than the Sharks’ two picks in the first round, 4th overall pick Will Smith and 26th overall pick Quentin Musty.

According to CBS Sports, this is a very important year for Svoboda. He wasn’t extremely impressive with Youngstown last season and saw limited playing time.

“His production (16G, 26P in 59GP) suffered as a result. Svoboda has size (6-foot-3) and speed, but his future potential is unknown given how little he played this past season,” wrote CBS Sports. “He’s off to Boston University this fall – we should get a much better idea of how much long-term upside Svoboda’s possesses during the upcoming campaign.”

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