Prospect Update: Brayden Tracey

Photo: SD Gulls

By Thomas Harrington

Anaheim’s second first round pick from 2019, Brayden Tracey spent most of this past year in the AHL, while also making his NHL debut for a game with the Ducks. Tracey is a good reminder that the progression of prospects is different from prospect to prospect and not necessarily a straight line. He struggled for a couple of seasons after a great performance in the WHL leading to Anaheim drafting him, but had a solid season in the AHL this past year.

This past year was supposed to be Tracey’s first year in the AHL, but he played in 12 AHL games the year before because of the pandemic’s disruption of junior leagues. Tracey didn’t look comfortable in those dozen games and went scoreless. This past season went much better for him, as he played in 55 games and scored 11 goals and 31 points.

There were stretches of the season where he was San Diego’s most dangerous forward. Tracey was named the AHL Player of the Week in late November, when he scored seven points in three games, including consecutive games where he scored three points in each. However, there were also times when his offense would dry up for several games in a row. He seemed to really hit a wall late in the season, with only five points in his final 23 games. Tracey finished tied for eighth in goals and seventh in points on the team.

Given his inconsistent production, Tracey was utilized throughout the lineup, seeing a decent amount of time on all four lines. He played in both of San Diego’s playoff games and was scoreless. Tracey did make his NHL debut in January against Detroit, finishing the night with one shot on goal in 9:21 of ice time.

Tracey more than met my expectations from a year ago. Since being drafted, he had a couple of down years that saw his offensive numbers fall. Part of that was because of injuries, part of that was because of the pandemic, and part of that was because Tracey was struggling at times when he was on the ice. I wanted to see a bounce back year from him, and he more than delivered. After being completely shut out at the AHL level in 12 games, he averaged over a point every other game and played in a majority of San Diego’s games. Making it to the NHL was a surprising bonus for him, though I did have him on my list of dark horse candidates to get a couple games in Anaheim.

This coming year will likely see Tracey spend most of the season in San Diego, but he’ll likely get some games in Anaheim as well. After what he did this past season, Tracey should be counted on to shoulder more of San Diego’s offensive load. I’d like to see him and Jacob Perreault play together on the top line and really develop some chemistry.

This coming season, my expectations for Tracey will be much higher. He’s shown that he can score at the AHL level, now I want him to score at a much more consistent pace. From mid-November to the end of January he was one of San Diego’s top point producers. At one point, Tracey was San Diego’s leader in goals and points. But he hit a wall after that and his offense almost completely dried up.

This year, I want to see fewer and shorter pointless streaks out of him. I also want to see him improve on all of his offensive numbers, and if the Gulls are back in the playoffs, I want to see him score some points in the postseason. Finally, I’d like to see him back in the NHL this year. He doesn’t need to play a ton with the Ducks, but I’d be happy if he got somewhere in the neighborhood of five to 10 games with Anaheim.

Tracey has two years left on his entry-level contract and he’ll be a restricted free agent when it’s done. Given the way things have gone for him, I don’t expect Anaheim to sign him to a long-term deal. Unless he establishes himself in the NHL this season or next, it wouldn’t surprise me if he gets another two-way deal. Hopefully he’s able to make the Ducks and is rewarded with a one-way deal, but it’s really going to be determined by how the next two years go for him.

The next prospect update will be on Hunter Drew.

Related Article:

Prospect Update: BO Groulx

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August 8th, 2022


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