Throughout his first two seasons in the Western Hockey League, Brenden Kichton was hardly leaned upon by the Spokane Chiefs to be a leader on the blueline. The right-handed defenseman often found himself buried on the depth chart behind older, similarly talented players like Jared Spurgeon and Stefan Ulmer. Coming into his 18-year old season, the Chiefs would look to rely heavily on some fairly unproven players in what many people would call a rebuilding year.
After earning an invite to the Detroit Red Wings prospect camp, Kichton was returned to the Chiefs with a broken hand and would be forced to miss the first part of the WHL season. Kichton made an immediate impact upon his return, potting two assists as the Chiefs won only their third game of the young season. The young defender hasn’t looked back since, and has spent the majority of his season leading the “rebuilding” Chiefs on a march towards Western Hockey League supremacy.
In his 43 games at the time of this article, the team has gone 29-8-4-2, and is currently in a battle for the top spot in the Western Conference. Kichton has been a major part of the team’s success in all three zones, posting an impressive 13 goals and 39 assists (52 points, 2nd in WHL among defensemen) from the back end, while adding a stellar +43 (1st in WHL) in 43 games played. Brendan’s point totals have him third on the Chiefs in scoring, and his +/- is a full +16 ahead of the next closest player on his team.
Kichton’s success can be attributed to his top-notch hockey sense, as he seems to never get caught out of position on any play, and when he decides to join the rush, the puck usually ends up in the back of the opponent’s net. Brendan is an excellent skater, and makes smart, crisp passes to his teammates that usually leads to smooth transitions out of their own end. He is also able to effectively set up offensive chances with his passing ability, and has proven himself an elite powerplay quarterback in the WHL. He doesn’t have a booming shot, but he is able to get his shot through traffic and on net more often than not. He is very effective at finding open areas in the offensive zone and gets the majority of his offensive chances from his skating ability and hockey sense, rather than the big shot from the point.
Brendan’s defensive zone play has never lacked; the 18 year old has always been on the positive side of the plus/minus scale throughout his career. He is able to read plays as they develop, and uses his skating ability and smarts to break them up. While he is considered undersized for a defenseman, the 5’11” 185 pound Kichton doesn’t shy away from physical play, and doesn’t seem to get overpowered by larger forwards on a regular basis.
After going through the entire 2010 NHL Entry Draft without being selected, Brendan Kichton appears to be a classic late bloomer. He has stepped up and filled some massive voids for the Spokane Chiefs this season, and has earned himself some well deserved notoriety. Brendan will look to continue his strong play throughout the remainder of the WHL season as the Chiefs continue to take the league by storm.