The Swift Current Broncos have no shortage of highly regarded draft eligible blueliners this year. Potential first-rounders Julius Honka and Brycen Martin have captured most of the spotlight, but Brett Lernout has slowly but surely made a name for himself as a shutdown defenceman.
Lernout garnered the attention of scouts with his steady defensive play, rugged style and imposing 6-foot-4, 204-pound statue. Moreover, he showed consistent improvements in his game throughout the year. It showed in his draft status as he jumped up to No. 52 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting Service’s final ranking. He was No. 80 at the midterm.
“At the beginning of the season I wouldn't have expected to get much notice, but I think I've earned it as the season has went on,” says Lernout, who scored eight goals and 22 points in 72 games while racking up 103 penalty minutes. “I've worked hard to take steps forward and I think I've made big steps forward with my defensive game and stuff like making the first pass to get out of the defensive zone.”
NHL Central Scouting’s B.J. MacDonald:
"He's a big kid, tough and nasty. He's hard to play against and a good physical presence. He just needs to keep his game simple and safe to be effective at this point. His puck movement is safe and adequate, and he's able to box out forwards well in front of his own goal.”
• Known for his steady defensive play and rugged style, Lernout played in all 72 games in 2013-14, posting 22 points (8-14—22) and a plus-7 rating in his first full seasons with the Swift Current.
• Lernout played 20 games over two seasons with the Saskatoon Blades before he was acquired by the Broncos in 2012-13. He notched his first career Western Hockey League goal in Swift Current’s 3-0 win over the Prince Albert Raiders on Feb. 9, 2013.
• Lernout grew up playing on a backyard rink built by his father. He names his dad as the most influential person in his hockey career and recalls scoring his first WHL goal with his dad in attendance as his most memorable hockey moment.
• In 2011-12, Lernout racked up 35 points (8-27—35) in 44 games for the Winnipeg Wild. He added five points (1-4—5) in the playoffs to help the team capture the Midget AAA title. Lernout guarded the Wild blueline in front of netminder Ty Edmonds, the No. 18-ranked North American goaltender.
• Lernout grew up idolizing Chris Pronger’s tough playing style.