The Calgary Flames don’t draft from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League all that often. It’s probably not a result of anything except more familiarity with the Western and Ontario junior leagues – they’ve had success with their WHL and OHL draftees that hasn’t materialized with the QMJHL kids.
A year ago, the Flames grabbed a promising (if underachieving) offensive player from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in D’Artagnan Joly. This year, they should consider one of his teammates: defenseman Xavier Bouchard.
From the scenic town of Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, Bouchard is a big kid – listed at 6’3″ and 190 pounds – who’s a right-shot blueliner. He’s not to be confused with Evan Bouchard (of the OHL’s London Knights) or Xavier Bernard (of the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs), both of whom are expected to be drafted in the 2018 NHL Draft as well.
Bouchard has quietly moved his way up the ranks from Quebec’s bantam and midget circuits, debuting as a full-time QMJHLer with the Drakkar last season. He had 34 points as a rookie, including an impressive 30 assists.
Bouchard’s offense dried up a bit in 2017-18, as he only had 21 points – this despite the Drakkar scoring 21 more goals than they did in his rookie campaign. Despite all this he was second on his team in defensive scoring, as only five players on the entire club cracked 30 points; the Drakkar were a bit top-heavy.
Ben Kerr from Last Word on Sports offered this assessment of Bouchard’s game:
Bouchard is a player with immense skill, but the potential seems a little untapped right now. He needs to bulk up. He also needs to work on simplifying his offensive game, and being a lot more physical in his own zone. There is serious boom potential if he follows the proper development path, but there is also big bust potential here. The team that drafts Bouchard will need to work with him and be patient. Expect at least a 3-4 year project here.
The blueliner has been praised for his hockey sense and his defensive ability, but his offense has been a bit sporadic and the thought process behind selecting him would be that you can bank on his shutdown capabilities and develop his play in the offensive zone a bit.
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Bouchard was ninth among first-time draft eligible QMJHL defenders in points and 11th in primary points. He was 16th in both categories at five-on-five, so it’s not unfair to say that he’s dependent on special teams opportunities for points.
Fit and availability
Bouchard feels a bit like a Darryl Sutter draft pick, aside from being from Quebec. He’s big. He can play mean. He’s smart defensively. But he’s shown that he can provide some offense from when he was a rookie, so potentially offensive consistency is something that can be nurtured and developed over time. Moreover, he’s a guy that the Flames’ scouts definitely have seen given Joly’s presence on the Drakkar and so they might have some intel on him that other teams don’t have – or they might feel more comfortable with the player due to familiarity.
His lack of progression – and offensive regression – might scare away some teams and ensure his availability for the Flames at 105th or 108th. He’s ranked 91st by Future Considerations and is the 74th-ranked North American skater by Central Scouting. There’s a good chance he’s still on the board when they pick.
2018 fourth round targets
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