Defenseman Brady Lyle played two seasons at Shattuck-St. Mary’s before he was drafted by North Bay of the OHL. (Photo courtesy of Providence Bruins)
There’s a long list of athletes who have used a snub – real or imagined – as incentive to ramp up their effort to reach a goal.
So far, that mindset is working for 22-year-old Boston Bruins prospect Brady Lyle.
When Lyle was not selected in the 2017 NHL Draft, it left a mark. He was ranked No. 48 among North American skaters that year by NHL Central Scouting and made the trip to Chicago with his family in anticipation of being picked.
When it was over, he was not one of the 217 players selected.
“I would say that disappointed would be a bit of an understatement. I felt like I should have been drafted,’’ he said.
“It obviously sucked, but I think it’s going to end up being a good thing for me because it’s something that I still think about all the time and something that still motivates me.’’
A free agent after five years in the Ontario Hockey League, Lyle signed an AHL contract with the Providence Bruins in April 2020.
His determination to prove the doubters wrong shone through during his rookie year last winter.
He was so impressive that Boston tore up his contract halfway through the season and signed him to a three-year entry level NHL deal amid rumblings that other teams also were interested.
Lyle will attend his first Bruins development camp this week.
He is a right-handed defenseman with a big shot. He has good size at 6-3 and 213 pounds. While the offensive part of his game is further ahead than his defense, he is a solid defender, though not someone who’d be labeled as a shutdown guy.
Lyle, who is ticketed for a full season in Providence in 2021-22, knew the Bruins had eyes on him while playing as an overager for Owen Sound.
He recalled John Ferguson Jr., executive director of player personnel and P-Bruins general manager, attending back-to-back games in Flint and Windsor in 2020.
“I knew he was there watching the games. I knew they were interested in me, but I wasn’t really sure to what extent and what was going to come from it,’’ said Lyle, who finished with 22 goals and 65 points in 62 games.
The Bruins offered him a contract not long after the pandemic shut down the OHL season and Lyle jumped on it.
With the AHL season in jeopardy last fall, Lyle signed with HC Detva in Slovakia and spent just over three weeks there and played in three games before heading to Providence. He very much enjoyed the experience.
“I got to see a different culture and what hockey is like over there. I was given lots of resources. I was able to go out on the ice whenever I wanted. I could use the gym whenever I wanted. It was a really cool experience, something that I’m grateful for. It was really fun,’’ he said.
Lyle, who is from North Bay, Ont., was immersed in hockey as a youngster.
“I was lucky enough to grow up on a lake, so I would be out on the ice in my backyard before school, after school, all the time, shooting pucks and having fun out there.
“When the ice melted, I was in my driveway all the time. I remember when I was really young going out and shooting for 40-45 minutes while waiting for the school bus,’’ he said.
At 14, Lyle enrolled at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, the renowned Minnesota prep school. The previous year, his friend from summer hockey in Toronto, Logan Hutsko, the Boston College star who signed with the Florida Panthers earlier this year, had invited Lyle for a visit.
“I knew a little bit about (Shattuck) because of some of the big names that have been there. I went and visited the school and seeing Logan there, I kind of fell in love with it, to be honest,’’ he said.
“Just imagine being 14 years old and being able to skate whenever I wanted while getting a really good education. It was kind of a no-brainer once I was admitted to the school and the hockey team told me they wanted me to be a part of their program. It would be hard for any kid to say no.’’
He had two strong seasons at Shattuck with 17-44-61 in 60 games for the 14U team and 16-28-44 in 55 games for the 15U team
Though he ultimately chose the major junior route, Lyle did consider playing college hockey.
“I was open to both. Going to Shattuck, I wanted to expose myself more to college, because I didn’t really know much about it, being from a small town in northern Ontario. I didn’t know what the facilities were like, what the games were like, all that kind of stuff.’’
While at Shattuck he saw what college hockey had to offer, but then his hometown North Bay Battalion drafted him in the first round of the 2015 OHL draft (three slots ahead of Jack Studnicka).
“I remember being a little kid and going to OHL games in North Bay,’’ he said. “I was thinking about going to college for sure, but then when I got drafted by North Bay, it was too hard for me to pass up, having those memories and getting to go back home to play. I couldn’t really turn that down.’’
After three seasons in North Bay, Lyle was traded to Owen Sound and that’s where he played his last two OHL years.
Once Lyle returned from Slovakia and plunged into the AHL season in February, he was noticeable from the opening game. He was one of the top rookie defensemen in the AHL, finishing with 7-7-14 in 25 games.
“I didn’t really feel any pressure. I was confident that if given the opportunity I could earn an NHL contract. I wasn’t going to let that opportunity go to waste. I knew that I needed to make the most of my chances,’’ he said.
“I realized that (an NHL deal) was attainable. I buckled down and did what I needed to do in order to take that next step. It set up a bunch of new opportunities that I have to keep working for in order to take advantage when the time comes.’’
Lyle and the Providence coaching staff – Jay Leach (who has since moved on to Seattle), and assistant coaches Ryan Mougenel and Trent Whitfield — established an excellent rapport.
“It’s something that I really value, and I don’t want to say it’s a bond that I haven’t had before, but they are being honest with me and wanting me to have success. It’s been really fun building that relationship, specifically with Mouge, but also with Whitter,’’ said Lyle.
“Being comfortable with them and being able to ask them questions, they’ve been really supportive the whole time. They’ve been helping me out with what I can do in the summer, stuff away from the rink – my Social Security number, looking for apartments, that stuff outside of hockey.’’
Lyle has spent the summer training at Edge Performance Systems in Foxboro. He’s been on the ice recently at Warrior Arena with Kim Brandvold, the skating instructor for the Bruins, in a group of players that has included the likes of Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy and Jack Eichel.
His goals for the summer include “cleaning up some of my skating – being a more efficient skater. Being able to close in my own end a little better. And sometimes my decision-making can be a half-second too late,’’ he said.
As he prepares for the upcoming season, Lyle will continue to use the snub at the draft four years ago as fuel to propel him forward.
“As long as I keep that passion and that drive, I’m going to keep going back to it and using it,’’ he said.