There might not be an NHL logo next to Brandon Scanlin’s name on the Omaha lineup chart, but make no mistake — the junior defenseman realizes he’s knocking on the door of opportunity at the next level.
“As a child everyone dreams it’s possible, but once you start going through the junior and college ranks and start to really work for it you realize it really is possible,” Scanlin said. “Once you’re here you know it’s close and it’s definitely a good motivator, but I’ve just got to keep working towards it.”
The Ontario native has quietly emerged as one of the top defenseman the NCHC has to offer, especially over the past year. Scanlin caught the attention of multiple organizations last season and was invited to the Boston Bruins development camp this summer.
At six-foot-four and 213 pounds, his size alone projects well and his style of play could make him one of the top undrafted college free agent targets this offseason or beyond. This past summer was his first true taste of the professional level.
“It was definitely a good experience just to see what the next level is like,” Scanlin said. “You can take away some stuff that I can bring back here and try to help my game obviously, but overall it’ll only help going forward.”
Scanlin said he’s spent the past year putting an emphasis on the fine details of his game, hoping it’ll eventually translate to the next level with him. He gives much of the credit to the Omaha coaching staff. However, he doesn’t try to think too much on the ice.
There’s one word Scanlin uses to describe his game: simple.
“I just try to make the right play all the time and keep it simple,” he said. “It’s not a hard game if everyone communicates and does their job, so I just try to give it my all and make it easier on my teammates and on myself.”
Scanlin was a member of the NCHC All-Rookie Team and scored three goals and 11 assists in his first year with the Mavericks. Last season, he was recognized as an honorable mention All-NCHC selection and registered a career-high 15 assists and 17 points. However, it goes beyond the offensive numbers with his game.
Through four games this season, Scanlin has picked up where he left off last season. He’s a fixture on the Mavericks’ top defensive pair, top power play unit and also sees time on the penalty kill. He’s quietly blossomed into the Mavericks’ most consistent defender and one of the most underrated prospects in the NCHC.
From his first game as a freshman to now, Scanlin’s growth is evident. He’s also a firm believer that if you do everything the right way, you’ll get rewarded.
“It sounds cliche, but we just continue to take every day one at a time,” he said. “As Gabs (head coach Mike Gabinet) likes to say, if you get that one percent better, it really makes the difference. You get what you put into yourself and same thing with the team, what you put into it, you get out of it.”
Although Scanlin tries not to look too far ahead, his eventual goal is to play at the next level. The defenseman knows there are eyeballs on him this season, but he doesn’t feel any extra pressure and tries not to think about it too much. He’s just trying to be best prepared for when that time comes.
“Whether it’s at the end of this year, the end of next year or four or five years from now, the goal still stays the same however my path is,” he said. “My focus now is just on putting in the work here in Omaha to help our team and to try and achieve my goal.”