Top 25 Under 25: #7 Brett Howden heads into his final year of juniors as the Moose Jaw Captain

The big center heads into his final year of juniors looking to lead his team to a spot in the Memorial Cup Tournament.

The Top 25 Under 25 is a collaboration by members of the RawCharge writing staff. Four writers, plus a special guest, ranked players under the age of 25 as of September 1, 2017 in the Tampa Bay Lightning organization. Each participant used their own metric of current ability and production against future projection to rank each player. Now, we’ll count down each of the 25 players ranked, plus Honorable Mentions.

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The Howden family just breeds NHL 1st rounders. Brother Quinton went 25th overall in 2010 to the Florida Panthers. He has since had a very rocky start to his NHL career and looks to be more like an AHL depth forward at this point in time. That is not the hope that Steve Yzerman and company has for Brett after having selected him 27th overall in Round 1 of the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.

Brett is a very skilled two-way center who is, in most respects, the most talented center prospect currently in the Lightning’s pipeline. At 6’3”, 192 pounds, Howden still has time to fill out his frame. He will have one more year to do so in Moose Jaw of the WHL before transitioning to the pro ranks in the fall of 2018.

Howden is a fierce competitor and had a spike in offensive production this season, up from his 24 goals and 40 assists in 68 games in his draft year. That same year he served as assistant captain to Brayden Point, who captained the Warriors during the 2015-16 campaign. In the playoffs that same year, Howden added 4 goals and 11 assists for 15 points in 10 games.

As a 16-year-old, he played for Canada’s U-18 World Juniors team, scoring 1 goal and adding 2 assists in 3 games. The following year—his draft year—he put up 5 goals and 3 assists in 6 games in the same tournament at age 17. He is likely a lock to play for Canada’s U-20 World Juniors team this winter after being one of the final cuts this past year.

Howden’s development also benefited by his short time in Syracuse this past season. He was able to play for the Crunch once his season with Moose Jaw concluded. He put up 3 goals and 1 assist in 5 regular season games and 2 assists in 3 playoff games. He did not look out of place by any means.

Howden projects to be a sound #2 center in the NHL. He might get a long look at training camp this fall but will probably not yet begin his professional career. He will be looking to do that when he joins Syracuse next season. However, there is a chance he bypasses the AHL entirely, a la Brayden Point, out of training camp in September 2018.

Regardless, his path to the NHL is probably going to be a short one. With the glut of centers in the organization, the Lightning could have a formidable group of players in that position in just a few short seasons. Howden looks to join the likes of Steven Stamkos, Tyler Johnson, Brayden Point, and Anthony Cirelli.