Flames Second Round Targets 2016: Samuel Girard

There are many attributes that have become valuable in the National Hockey League in recent years. Primary among them is a player’s mobility, and their ability to skate themselves in and out of trouble.

In a world where mobility is really prized of late, Samuel Girard of the Shawinigan Cataractes could be a great value selection in the second round of the 2016 NHL Draft. That is, if he falls that far.

SCOUTING REPORT

I saw Girard in-person early in the year at the Under-18 camp that Hockey Canada put on at Winsport. In a group of his peers, his skating stood out – he was head-and-shoulders the most mobile, maneuverable blueliner, and he actually seemed a better skater than many of the forwards there. In the scrimmages, his size didn’t seem to be an issue – nor did it seem to be one in the QMJHL this past season – but I can see NHL clubs being a bit wary of his 5’9″ frame on draft day.

From Future Considerations:

This puck moving defenseman is tiny but has a very strong lower body and
makes up for it with incredible smarts and intelligence. He reads the
developing play and makes adjustments constantly – something unusual for
a young prospect to do consistently. He is also an elite level skater
with impressive speed and strong all-encompassing mobility; able to turn
and change directions quickly. Has tremendous puck skills and vision,
making skilled passes to spring his forwards on the attack.

From Steve Kournianos from The Draft Analyst:

Playing with
the burden of great expectations is never easy, but the swift-skating
Girard lived up to his reputation as an elite scoring rearguard by
topping all CHL blueliners in scoring – a distinction he held almost
from start to finish. He was the third overall pick in the 2014 QMJHL
draft (behind Pascal Laberge and fellow defender Luke Green), and he’s
distinguished himself by playing a style efficient yet flashy at the
same time.

For those of you that watched the Memorial Cup, I’d characterize Girard as a slightly shorter Victor Mete, perhaps with more offensive upside.

THE NUMBERS

Girard was a points machine in 2015-16. Granted, he was playing in the Q, where Mason McDonald has been considered a strong goaltender with a save percentage of around .900. But regardless of how you want to hedge it, Girard led all three major-junior leagues in points by a defenseman. Heck, he had more assists than the second-place QMJHL blueliner (fellow draft-eligible Frederic Allard) had points.

He led all Q blueliners in primary points and was the top defenseman for his age in even strength primary points. (He was eighth overall, but the players ahead of him were all older.) He also led the entire QMJHL in even strength (and overall) secondary assists, which is actually pretty cool (and perhaps a representation of his ability to distribute the puck and help his team’s transition game).

His shooting distribution (via our pals at Prospect-Stats.com) suggests he’s more of a distributor than a “jump into the rush” guy, because basically everything is from the point.

Samuel Girard Shot Heat Map

His production compares favourably with other draft-eligible defenders like Victor Mete, Frederic Allard, Jake Bean, Mikhail Sergachev and Olli Juolevi when you control for estimated even strength ice time. (He actually out-scores them all per 60 minutes of even strength time.) If he wasn’t 5’9″, he’d probably be a sure fire first round pick.

But he’s small, so he’s projected as a late first rounder that could easily slip to the second round.

FIT WITH THE FLAMES

I really like Girard as a player, but the fit is the tough part. Calgary is lousy with left-shooting defenders, and I can’t see a team that’s trumpeting black and blue hockey taking a flyer on a tiny puck-moving defender in the second round. If anything, he seems like a smaller, French-Canadian version of Oliver Kylington.

If you already have Kylington (and Brandon Hickey and others), do you want another, smaller defender?

Maybe not at 35th overall, but if he is somehow available with one of their later second round picks, he might be worth the gamble.

SUM IT UP

Girard is a really talented, albeit small, defenseman. Aside from his stature, his left-handedness may pose a problem when the Flames consider taking him. That said, his offensive numbers are just bonkers – even when you consider that he plays in the offense-laden QMJHL – and there’s a pretty decent chance that the Flames don’t even get a chance to mull over taking him, because he may be gone before they even step up to the podium in the second round.

Previous draft targets: Alexander Nylander | Pierre-Luc Dubois | Matthew Tkachuk | Jakob Chychrun | Olli Juolevi | Clayton Keller | Alex DeBrincat | Sam Steel | Vitalii Abramov | Jake Bean | Tyson Jost | Mikhail Sergachev | Tyler Benson | Griffin Luce | Logan Brown

  • everton fc

    Another:

    “A flashy offensive defenceman that takes advantage of opportunities and is always looking to make an impact each shift. Works very hard and isn’t afraid to play the body. Skates with exceptional exuberance and fluidity. Accurate release on his shot and a good eye for open passing lanes. Proactive defensively and puts the pressure on the opposition. Needs to have a more active stick and a more felt presence in shooting lanes, but he has shown a willingness to learn, and these skills will develop. All-in-all, an exciting offensive defenceman who displays noteworthy offensive and defensive instincts.” (Curtis Joe, EP 2015)

    All that said, he’s awful small…

    His teammate, Alexis D’Aoust, might be one to look at in the later rounds…. 44 goals, 98 points, 6″, 200lbs…

        • Nick24

          Regardless of the round, you should be drafting players that have potential to be impact forwards for you. Guys like Auston Carroll can be had for a dime a dozen come free agency.

          Drafting a player with the hope that he will turn into a a top-6 defenseman or a fourth line checking forward is baffling. Most players are not going to reach their potential ceiling, and when the bar is already as low as a fringe NHLer it makes no sense as to why a team would spend a draft pick on that kind of player, regardless of the round.

          Scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in hockey. How about we focus on getting players that can do that?

          • Baalzamon

            Completely agree. If you’re looking at drafting a player, and your thought process is “if everything goes right, this guy could be a plug” you’re doing something wrong.

            That said, that’s not necessarily the case with D’Aoust. Maybe someone thinks there’s some upside there.

          • everton fc

            Carroll was a sound #7 pick who scored as much as a lot of players, at the junior level. We had nothing to lose with that pick. Francis Perron was another good 7th round pick for Ottawa, same year. Reid Duke out of Brandon was another “harmless” pick same year, one round earlier. And I always liked Jerome Verrier our of Drummondville, who wasn’t drafted, but had a great camp with the Wings last year until he broke his leg. He was a guy who was close to making their AHL team. All could score, and did, in junior. Jooris wasn’t drafted, by the way… Nor was Hathaway.

            Nor Giordano…

            Shore was the 44th pick in his class. No one thought Shore would be a “plug”. He certainly appears to be, though. Anders Lee was picked #152 the same year Shore went #44 (Scott Glennie went #8, Phillipe Paradis went #27 that year. Neither will ever see an NHL game again, In fact, Paradis still hasn’t). Erik Haula was #182 that year. Jordan Nolan, a Stanley Cup winner, #186. (Anders Lee was another late round pick. You never know…)

            D’Aoust may prove to be better than these guys, or not. I never said you draft a guy in the 6th round to be a possible 4th liner. What do you draft in the 6th/7th round? But not many late round picks end up as 2nd liners scoring 20 goals. I think D’Aoust is one of many guys who might be worth a punt. Like Carroll was. Carroll didn’t have a horrible season. And D’Aoust scored 44 goals in the “Q”. He scored 26 points in 21 playoff games. He was A TVA Sports Scholastic Player of the Year, so he’s disciplined, mature, smart. Here he is squatting 385 lbs + 45 lbs of chains = 430 lbs x 5 reps. And he scored 44 goals.

            I’m not sure why he wouldn’t be a guy to look at in round 6 or 7?

          • piscera.infada

            I’m not necessarily sure that’s what he was driving at with that comment. Of course there are gems found in the late round, but I think the question comes down more how do you increase the likelihood of one of those picks turning into a gem? Do you spend the pick on a player with the current “NHL measurables” that translate to a bottom-2/depth defender or bottom-3/depth forward forward? Do you spend it on the player who is two years older than other draft eligibles who only now scored at a (relatively) “respectable” rate (the proto-typical “late-bloomer”, in other words)? Or, do you take the first-time draft eligible who has scored, has skills, and is passed over earlier because they lack “NHL measurables”?

            The answer to that question is certainly up for debate, but it seems at least intuitively, that the more skilled, younger scoring option is the most likely to succeed–if only by virtue of having the longest development time left, and the best tools to work with. As you correctly pointed out though, NHL players can (literally) come from anywhere. That’s why you have to be able to trust your scouts in those rounds.

  • Christian Roatis

    Girard reminds a bit of Anthony DeAngelo who was drafted in the 1st round by Tampa in 2013. Dynamic offensive defenceman.

    The fact he is quite small probably deters the size-hungry Flames from him, though.

    • Greatsave

      EliteProspects seems to think DeAngelo was drafted in 2014.

      The thing that stands out for me with Girard is the fact that he led the Q in D scoring *in his draft season*. I don’t believe any of the current NHL Q alumni (Letang, Vlasic, Beauchemin, Demers, Oduya) achieved that.

      I’d be interested to know if any D-men led the Q in scoring in their draft season, and how they turned out.

  • EhPierre

    Just imagine a Flames team in 5 years where all 4 (or even 6!) of our defenders are smaller versions of Karlsson in regards to his skating. Kylington can skate, Brodie can skate, Hamilton can sorta skate, Andersson can skate. That’s gonna be one fun team to watch

    I’d take this guy with one of our later second rounders, if he falls that much. I’m really hoping Debrincat would somehow fall to 35 for us

  • KiLLKiND

    I have been a big fan of drafting him as long as none of Raddysh, Abramov, Debrincat, are available at 35. I think BT will draft by position somewhat as we need RW prospects, he did the same last year when we snagged Kylington and Andersson. At the end of the day I really hope somebody falls like Kylington and we manage to steal another 1st round talent in the 2nd round.

      • KiLLKiND

        You are probably right about Raddysh I shouldn’t have included him in that group. However that doesn’t change that we need to draft multiple RW’s this draft.

        While you mention Hart, I love the idea of drafting him. I was able to watch him live this year at a Rockets game and wow he is amazing! He is very flexible, cuts down angles perfectly, and has amazing lateral movement! Unfortunately he is going to be drafted too early for us to justify taking a goalie especially when we have so many in the system. McDonald, Gilles, Ortio, Poulin, and Schneider plus whoever we sign this get this year. If we do draft him we could end up in the very enviable postion of Tampa which is having 3 all-star goalies.

  • Jake the Snail

    After seeing Alex Nylander standing next to the other top prospects at the NHL Combine, I warming up to the Flames taking him at the 6th spot. He looks a lot stockier than Tkachuk and if he is skilled as scouts say he is he would will be a great RW on the top line.