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2015-16 IceCaps Season Review: Brett Lernout quickly earned the trust of his coach

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It was an interesting first professional season for Lernout. While the points weren't there, the trust from his coach definitely was.

During his rookie season, Brett Lernout proved that he is a decent defensive prospect for the Montreal Canadiens organization. He had a solid season with the St. John's Icecaps in the American Hockey League, culminating with a single game call-up from Habs, where he unfortunately suffered a season-ending injury.

He was eligible for an overage season in the Western Hockey League with the Swift Current Broncos, but after a six game tryout with the Hamilton Bulldogs last season once his junior team was eliminated from the playoffs, he made the jump to professional hockey this year. In the AHL, he quickly established himself a dependable defenceman for head coach Sylvain Lefebvre.

The 20 year-old was a defensive stalwart for the IceCaps, playing 69 games, and scoring two goals along with 10 assists as a defensive partner of Joel Hanley for the majority of the season. As other rookie defenceman found themselves cycled in and out of the lineup, Lernout was only a healthy scratch once.

Coming into the season he was known for having a strong stride, ability to use his 6'4" frame, and a good shot from the point, yet he was still very much unrefined. He certainly received plenty of minutes in all situations to help with his development. In fact, after overcoming a steep learning curve, he became one of Lefebvre's most trusted defenceman, frequently playing to defend a lead at the end of the game.

With a reputation of not shying away from the rougher side of the game from his time in the WHL, Lernout fought four times this season. His tall frame is clearly very beneficial in providing the team with a physical presence when required. Standing at 6'4" he is the second tallest prospect in the organization after 6'6" Michael McCarron, and will certainly be given all the opportunities required to succeed.

Next season should be another learning year for Lernout with the IceCaps. There is plenty of development left for him before he can earn a full-time roster spot on the Canadiens, but his size combined with solid skating and heavy shot will likely accelerate his ascent to the NHL.

Of course, we would be remiss if we didn't discuss his offensive output, which was mediocre to say the least. In most cases, to establish yourself in the NHL you need to tally a decent amount of points in the AHL, even as a defenceman.

Lernout is clearly not there yet, having only produced 12 points in 64 games. While his physical prowess can't be denied, his offensive capabilities are the biggest hurdle keeping him off the Habs' blue line in the near future. He'll have to refine his skills if he hopes to make it to the big show in a permanent role.