Hannah Brandt was tied for fourth in last year’s Top 25 Under 25 on The Ice Garden, but don’t read too much into her moving down in our rankings. She’s still one of the best centers in the game and has yet to reach her full potential.
Brandt is creative, versatile, and has lethal instincts in the offensive zone. There are precious few forwards who process the game at Brandt’s level. She has a knack for being where she needs to be and putting the puck exactly where she wants it to be.
The Ice Garden’s Hannah Bevis provided a great recap of Brandt’s exceptional collegiate career in last year’s Top 25 Under 25. Here’s an excerpt:
In every single one of her college seasons, Brandt was at least a Top 10 Finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award, and she was a Top Three Finalist during her sophomore and junior seasons.
She’s also a three-time NCAA National Champion, earning the tournament MVP award her junior year. She set a Minnesota record with 82 points her freshman year (33G, 49A) and was the USCHO and WCHA Rookie of the Year that same season. She consistently led the Gophers in scoring and was a staple at the top of the NCAA points leaderboard.
In addition to those accolades, Brandt is the University of Minnesota’s all-time leading scorer. She’s also one of just over a dozen women to score 100 goals during their collegiate career – oh, and she’s more of a playmaker than a finisher. Brandt finished her collegiate career with a program-best 170 assists in 158 games; 98 of those assists were primary.
After finishing her senior year with the Golden Gophers, Brandt chose to play for the Minnesota Whitecaps instead of uprooting her life to play in the NWHL. One year later, she was in residency with Team USA, preparing for Pyeongchang.
At the 2018 Olympics Brandt was Team USA’s second line center. She averaged 18:09 of ice time – fourth on the team among forwards — with Amanda Kessel and Dani Cameranesi on her wings. Brandt finished the tournament with two points – both primary — in five games and was one of eight skaters on the team to score a goal. Oh, and she would have had two, but she had a goal waved off.
Hannah Brandt doesn’t like it when you take her goal away so she’ll just score another one. 5-0 #USWNT— Alison (@AlisonL) February 13, 2018
Brandt was a force of nature on the faceoff dot at the Olympics. She finished the tournament with a 61.33 percent success rate on draws. Team USA dominated the opposition in possession for most of the Olympic tournament. We can safely say that Brandt’s passing ability and prowess on the dot was a big part of that.
A lot can change in four years, but Brandt should be a staple on the national team leading up to the Beijing Games. By the time that 2022 rolls around, she could be playing an even bigger role than she did in Pyeongchang. Brianna Decker, Team USA’s top center, will be 31 in four years; Brandt will be 28.
Will Brandt be Team USA’s first line center in a few years? It’s hard to say. At this time last year, we were all expecting Alex Carpenter to be Decker’s successor. Regardless of what her role with the national team will be four years from now, Brandt is going be a difference-maker. She’s an elite two-way center and a power play specialist. Her play away from the puck is underrated; probably because she spends so much time with it on her stick.
The 2018-19 season will be Brandt’s first in the NWHL and second with the Whitecaps organization. Kendall Coyne may be the team’s superstar, but Brandt will be the one springing her for breakaways and setting her up on the power play. We should expect to see some big numbers out of the Whitecaps’ top line. And, fittingly enough, Brandt is going to be right in the middle of it.
Is This Ranking Too High or Too Low
It’s a little too low. She absolutely deserves a spot in our top 10, but should be a little closer to where she was ranked last year.
So, why did she come in at nine this time around? Since leaving the University of Minnesota you could argue that Brandt has been playing out of the spotlight. In 2016-17 she was playing in front of small crowds with scant media coverage for the Whitecaps. And at PyeongChang more was said about the omission of Carpenter from the roster than Brandt’s performance as second line center. The vast majority of the media coverage she did get revolved around her relationship with her sister Marissa, who was playing for Korea.
In hockey, center depth wins championships. Brandt played a pivotal role on Team USA’s gold medal-winning roster at Pyeongchang. She’s undoubtedly one of the best centers in the game, and she’s only getting better.