OSHAWA, Ont. — Three years ago Jeremy Brodeur made the decision to play junior hockey in Oshawa with the hopes it would help him earn a professional contract. With nine regular season games remaining in his overage year in the Ontario Hockey League, the goaltender is closing in on his goal.
Brodeur ranks in the league's top five in wins (30) and save percentage (.918) heading into Thursday's games and has a goals-against average of 2.82.
The youngest son of former NHL superstar goalie Martin Brodeur should have his first contract sooner rather than later, according to agent Pat Brisson.
"Jeremy is having an MVP year this season," Brisson said. "We are looking at all options for him there's no doubt in my mind that he will have NHL entry-level opportunity in the near future."
The six-foot-one, 186-pound native of Essex Fells, N.J., has drawn favourable reviews from scouts his in solid third season with the Generals.
"I remember seeing him 2-3 years ago and if his last name wasn't Brodeur, I don't think we would've been talking about him," said ISS Hockey Director of Scouting Dennis MacInnis. "He might be one of the most improved players in all of the CHL this year, not just the Ontario Hockey League."
At the trade deadline Oshawa's general manager Roger Hunt dealt veterans such as Anthony Cirelli and Mitch Vande Sompel in an effort to get younger.
Despite the youth movement, the Generals remain in the hunt for the East Division crown and the top seed in the Eastern Conference in large part due to the play of Brodeur, who is 10-4-1 since the deadline.
"He went to Columbus's main camp and I think certainly his confidence grew," said Hunt. "He's been fantastic and arguably he's been our best player this year. We're in the position we're in, by and large, thanks to the play of Jeremy Brodeur."
Brodeur credits his growth in the game to his three years spent at Shattuck-St. Mary's prep school prior to joining Oshawa for the 2014-15 season.
"I didn't really take hockey seriously until I went there, I really took a big step there," Brodeur said.
Martin Brodeur has already gone through the process of one of his sons trying follow his path to the NHL when the New Jersey Devils drafted his eldest son Anthony in 2013.
Now a member of the St. Louis Blues front office, Martin Brodeur believes Jeremy is more suited to play goal at the pro level than Anthony, who is now suiting up with the Ottawa Gee Gees.
"I think (Jeremy's) got a pretty good attitude about the game — a lot different than Anthony. Anthony took everything a little harder," he said. "(Jeremy's) able to go through adversity maybe a little bit better."
The future Hall of Famer is happy to offer advice after most of Jeremy's starts.
"I think it's more of the mental aspect of his game: how he felt, what he saw and certain things. What he should've done to prevent something," Martin Brodeur said. "I let him tell me what he did wrong instead of me telling him what he does wrong.
"He self evaluates himself very well so that's always a good thing for a goalie."
Jeremy Brodeur's experience at Blue Jackets main camp, which included 10 minutes of game action against his dad's Blues in a pre-season game, gave Brodeur a look at where he needs to improve to get to the next level.
"Just the work ethic," he said. "Every person there was so dedicated to what they do, it was pretty inspiring and I learned a lot from my couple weeks I was there.
"Definitely (need to improve) my post work and my foot work and just being a little bit more active."
Jeremy Brodeur may be close to his first NHL contract, but it likely won't be with his father St. Louis.
"I think it'd be tough," Martin Bordeur said. "As an organization, we try to shy away from these situations. It's not fair for me, it's not fair for him, it's not fair for people to have to make decisions because of the situation.
"As a dad, I hope he gets a chance to see what he can do at the next level."
Dhiren Mahiban, The Canadian Press