Heading towards the 2005 National Hockey League Entry Draft, it serves just fine for Calgary Hitmen forward Brodie Dupont to lay low. He’s done it throughout his entire hockey career.
Dupont, currently ranked 128th among North American skaters by Central Scouting, is seemingly pleased to be an ‘unknown’ heading towards the conclusion of his draft season. In fact, according to Dupont, it’s an advantage for the native of St. Lazare, Manitoba.
“They might come to watch those guys, and hopefully I can have a good game and get in the back of their mind,” Dupont said. “Not being ranked so high, there isn’t a lot of pressure on me, and it’s easier to play your own game.”
“I don’t know if I think they overlooked me, because I wasn’t putting up statistics earlier in the year, though I was playing well. I was still happy to get ranked as high as I did considering the way I was playing. It’ll start screwing up your game if you start thinking about the draft and start thinking about where you are ranked.”
With how Dupont’s played in the second half of the season, it’ll be impossible for the left winger to be overlooked again.
After compiling just eight points in his first 36 games in the Western Hockey League, Dupont has seen a spike in his offensive production from the turn of the year. In 2005, Dupont has outscored many draft eligible opponents. With just one game remaining in the regular season for the Calgary Hitmen, Dupont has already scored more goals tha1n he had points in 2004. Through 33 games in 2005, Dupont has not only upped his goal scoring totals from two goals to 11, but has also upped his confidence level on the ice, and raised the eyebrows of a few scouts in the process.
“If anything’s changed I think it’d be that I’m finding the holes a bit better, just adapting better to the league,” explained Dupont of the sudden successes he’s finding around the net. “I know where to jump in now and bounces are starting to go my way. Obviously it’s a confidence thing as well. Once one goes in, it seems like more go in after that.”
It’s not only the increased confidence in himself that is impressive about watching Brodie Dupont on the ice. The coaching staff, consisting of former NHLers Kelly Kisio and Dean Evison, has also shown an increased comfort of having Dupont on the ice in key situations, including both special teams, something you would have never seen at the start of the season.
“They’ve definitely put confidence in me,” said Dupont of the coaching staff. “I’m on the power play now and I started to penalty kill in the second half. That shows they have confidence in me and that gives me confidence in myself.”
While his style of play hasn’t changed from the beginning of the season, Dupont is finally learning what it takes to find success in the WHL. It hasn’t hurt that he’s found an excellent mentor in the process. Carolina first round selection Andrew Ladd has been happy to lend a hand to the 6’2, 190lb left winger, something that has been greatly appreciated by Dupont.
It also makes things easier for Dupont considering he models his play after the Hitmen associate captain. In describing his own game, one could confuse Dupont with Ladd quite easily.
“I like to get gritty,” explained Dupont. “I love getting aggressive in the corners and getting into the opposition’s head and go after their star players and get in their heads, and screw their game up a little bit. I’ll do whatever it takes to be successful.”
It’s an endorsement that Ladd himself will make.
“Well obviously he’s willing to go into the corners and battle and muck it up,” Ladd described. “He’s not afraid to drop the gloves either. He’s got a great shot too. I think we’ve got a lot of similarities in the way we play, and in our all-round game. He’s just got to make sure to finish his checks and play hard and he’ll be alright.”
The similarities also don’t end there for Dupont and the 6’2, 200lb native of Maple Ridge, British Columbia. After spending a season in the BCHL, Ladd exploded onto the WHL scene last year, finishing second in Rookie of the Year voting to Vancouver’s Gilbert Brule en route to being selected fourth overall by the Carolina Hurricanes. It’s Ladd’s story that Dupont has used for motivation.
Dupont, who is in his rookie campaign in the Western Hockey League, was never selected in the Bantam draft, and only after impressing the Hitmen in training camp this past fall was he able to earn a position in the WHL after spending last year with the Swan Valley Stamps of the MJHL.
“I’ve always been overlooked, and that just made me work harder to get to the WHL. I came in here as a little guy, no one knew who I was, and I’m just trying to make a name for myself. I’m just using it as motivation to prove a point.
“I knew Andrew Ladd came in the same situation I did, and he ended up going fourth overall (in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft),” explained Dupont. “It’s something good to look at. It gives me more confidence. It’s not all about where you’re ranked or if you’ve been drafted in the bantam draft.”
It certainly hasn’t hurt Dupont to have someone of Ladd’s ability showing him direction. On a personal level, the relationship has had a mutual benefit for both parties involved.
“We’re good buddies, we’re pretty close,” remarked Ladd. “I talk to him about a couple of things.”
Although it appears that they talk hockey more than either are willing to let on, one thing is certain; Andrew Ladd is hoping to make the 2005 NHL Entry Draft easy on Brodie Dupont. The 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Ladd admits, was a stressful period in his life. He’s hoping that Dupont can savor his draft weekend.
“I think he just needs to play his game, and that’ll get him further than anything else,” Ladd said in regards to the advice he’s given to Dupont. “He’ll be alright.”
Dupont echoed the sentiment.
“I’ve driven home with Ladd a couple times, and he’s helped me out a bit,” explained Dupont.
“He says just to play your game and not to worry about everyone watching, and they’ll notice you if you play your own game. Obviously it’s in the back of your mind but I try not to worry about it.”
As for Ladd, Dupont couldn’t express his gratitude any clearer.
“It makes things easier on me having him take me under his wing.”
Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.