Braden Birch
Image: Cornell University

Braden Birch

Hometown:

Hamilton Ontario

Currently Playing In:

NCAA

Birthday:

1989-09-25

Position:

D

Eligible for draft:

2007

Shoots:

Left

Drafted:

2008

Height:

6-3

Acquired:

6th round (179th overall), 2008

Weight:

185 lbs.

Probability of Success
  • C

History

2007-08: Braden Birch spent the second half of the season with the Oakville Blades of the OPJHL after coming over in a trade from the Nanaimo Clippers (BCHL). He suffered a high ankle sprain midway through the season but still managed to put up respectable numbers with Oakville, registering five points in 13 games. Birch helped lead the team to a conference and league championship. The Blades also won the Dudley Hewitt Cup and participated in the 2008 Royal Bank Cup, which includes the top Tier II Junior “A” teams from the Canadian Junior Hockey League. Despite falling short in the Royal Bank Cup, the Blades had a historic year.

2008-09: Birch skated in 35 games with the Oakville Blades in the OJHL, scoring 7 goals, 18 assists for 25 points.

2009-10: In his freshman season at Cornell, Birch scored 2 assists in 32 games. He skated a regular shift at even strength and on the penalty kill.

2010-11: The defenseman appeared in 30 games for Cornell, upping his contributions to 2 goals and 8 points as a sophomore. He sustained a plus-1 rating over the course of the season, including a plus-5 rating in ECAC play.

2011-12: Birch was a key shutdown defenseman for Cornell in his junior season – frequently facing the top opposition forwards. In 32 games for the Big Red he scored 1 goal with 6 assists and was plus-11 with 22 penalty minutes. After finishing second in ECAC Hockey in the regular season, Cornell reached the conference tournament semifinals. After falling to Harvard, the Big Red rebounded to win the ECAC third-place game against travel partner Colgate. Cornell defeated Michigan in an NCAA Midwest semifinal game before falling to eventual NCAA runner-up Ferris State.

2012-13: Birch skated in 34 games for Cornell as a senior on a Big Red team that struggled much of the season – finishing ninth in the 12-team ECAC Hockey league. He scored 2 goals with 2 assists and was +1 with 14 penalty minutes. Cornell finished 15-16-3, just the third losing season in head coach Mike Schafer's 18-year-tenure. Birch was not tendered a contract by the Blackhawks, becoming an unrestricted free agent, and signed a contract to play for HIFK in Finland's SM-Liiga in 2013-14.

 

Talent Analysis

Birch is a towering defenseman who draws comparisons to Jay Bouwmeester with his skating style. He possesses a fluid stride, owns a quick shot and is capable of handling the puck, making him a potential weapon on the power play. Additionally, Birch is the type who will stick up for his teammates, which is why he is deemed to hold leadership qualities by coaches and players alike. However, Birch will need to get stronger and further develop his game if he is going to be successful at the next level.

 

Future

Birch's college career came to an end in 2012-13, but he was not signed to a contract by the Blackhawks. He has the size and shutdown ability to help a professional team, but it seems that opportunity will not come with the Chicago organization.

 

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