Metz at home with WHL's Pats
Greg Harder, Canwest News Service
Published: Thursday, August 27, 2009
LUMSDEN, Sask. - Brayden Metz is getting a second chance to make a first impression with the Regina Pats.
Calling it a low-risk, high-reward wager, the Western Hockey League club has opened the door for Metz to come home and resurrect his junior career in the same city where it began - well, almost began.
Labelled a can't-miss prospect during his minor hockey days in Regina, Metz's stock dropped slightly heading into the 2005 bantam draft, allowing the Pats to grab him in the second round (21st overall). But the down-ward trend soon continued when Metz failed to crack the Pats' lineup at age 16 and was subsequently dispatched to the Chilliwack Bruins. Two seasons later, he was dealt to the Moose Jaw Warriors, followed by a demotion to the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League's Melville Millionaires.
Now Metz has come full circle with the Pats, who added the 19-year-old centre to their protected list in the spring and invited him to compete for a job in training camp.
"It's strange (to be back) but it's everything a guy has ever wanted," offered Metz, whose team opens the pre-season Friday night in Edmonton against the Oil Kings. "To be successful on a team is one thing but to play for your hometown is another. If I get that chance I'm going to make the most out of it."
The turning point in Metz's career may turn out to be his brief stint last season in Melville, where he posted 15 points in 18 regular-season games.
"Going to the SJ was a big confidence boost for me so hopefully I can bring that and some of my strengths and help out the team," said Metz. "(In Moose Jaw and Chilliwack) they were more relying on me to be a grinder and whatnot. I was young. No excuses. But going back to Melville, I found myself as a hockey player."
Metz's future is now tied to his past. Once projected as a front-line centre, the Pats are giving him a chance to fulfil that potential by auditioning the six-foot, 182-pounder for a job on one of the team's top two lines.
"He's as skilled a player as we've got in camp," said Parker, who ranked Metz's pure talent in the top three with Jordan Eberle and Jordan Weal. "A big thing for Brayden is he has matured. You have to play within the team concept to get opportunities offensively. I think he's starting to understand those things. I thought he was outstanding in the playoffs last year in Melville, but he has to play with skilled guys. He's not going to be a penalty killer, a checker, a third- or four-line guy. He needs to be given an opportunity to play in a skilled role. If he makes the most of it, then there's a spot here for him."