After an impressive junior career, Pavel Brendl was drafted 4th overall in the 1999 Entry Draft. Three and a half years later, he joined the Carolina Hurricanes, his third NHL stop.
This is the second installment in an ongoing series focusing on players with short-lived stints with the Carolina Hurricanes. If you haven’t already, you can check out the first article which focused on Jan Hlavac.
Okay, let me address something right off the hop: I said that the Carolina Hurricanes were Brendl’s third team, and they were, technically. Drafted by the New York Rangers, he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers as part of the deal that brought Eric Lindros to The Big Apple. At the time, Brendl had not played a game for New York.
As a teenager, Brendl posted three very strong seasons with the WHL‘s Calgary Hitmen. Playing in 178 games for the Hitmen, Brendl notched 172 goals and 148 assists for 320 points. Incidentally, his best season was a 73 goal, 134 point effort in the season prior to the 99 draft. The stocky winger seemed like a surefire pick, and Neil Smith, New York’s general manager, agreed, taking Brendl with the 4th overall pick.
Turning pro in the 2001-02 season, Brendl saw action in 8 games for the Flyers (remember the Lindros trade), putting up one goal. The majority of the season found Brendl suiting up for the Flyers’ AHL affiliate, where he posted 15 goals and 37 points in 64 games.
The 2002-03 season saw Brendl starting in the NHL, posting 5 goals and 12 points in 42 games before his welcome was worn out. On February 7, 2003, Brendl was traded for the second time in his young career, this time to the Carolina Hurricanes:
The big piece moving out was Sami Kapanen, and boy did his decline with the Hurricanes hurt. Since the Hurricanes’ arrival in North Carolina, Kapanen had finished in the top-5 scorers for the team (including tying for the team lead in their inaugural season) while playing a strong two-way game. The 2002-03 season was an offensive abyss for the Hurricanes and Kapanen suffered along with his team.
Just like his first pro season, Brendl got into 8 NHL games with Carolina, this time posting a lone assist. Yes, Kapanen had been struggling but Brendl offered no immediate help to a team that desperately needed it. He was a high draft pick whose work ethic quelled his potential.
2003-2004 found Brendl splitting time between the Hurricanes and their AHL affiliate in Lowell. His time in the minors was productive as he put up 17 goals and 33 points in 33 games, however, his time in the NHL provided less than the desired results. In just 18 NHL games, Brendl scored 5 goals and 8 points while averaging 14:48 minutes of ice time.
After the season concluded, Brendl took his talents to Europe, playing in his native Czech Republic as well as Finland and Switzerland. In terms of an NHL future, the Hurricanes still held his rights, having signed him to a one-year contract in the summer of 2004.
Then, on December 28, 2005, he was traded for the last time, being shipped off to the Phoenix Coyotes for Krys Kolanos (who never played a game for the Hurricanes). Fun fact about Kolanos: he was part of the trade that brought Mark Recchi to the Hurricanes in 2006. Meanwhile, Brendl hit the ice in all of two games for the Coyotes, posting no points and having no real impact.
As far as highlights of his brief time with the Hurricanes, well, there’s not much. He did post two assists in a 4-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers, so there’s that. Ultimately, Brendl was a bust, a player whose desire to succeed didn’t come close to matching his talent. Perhaps there’s an alternate universe where he was a multi-time 50 goal scorer.
It’s certainly not this one.
What, if anything, do you remember about Pavel Brendl’s stint with the Hurricanes? How disappointed were you in Sami Kapanen’s decline and eventual trade?