The 2020 NHL Draft is scheduled for October 6 and 7, conducted remotely. The Calgary Flames have a first round selection and will pick 19th overall. In advance of the draft, we’ll be looking at some contenders to be selected at 19th.
A guy named Bourque might be on Calgary’s radar? What is this, 2008? Well, this time it’s not Rene, it’s Mavrik: a right-handed centre from the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes with soft hands and a strong willingness to shoot the puck.
Mavrik Bourque has already received enthusiastic reviews for his creativity. Scouts rave about his ability to use his great vision to find guys all over the ice with accurate, crisp passes, often of the highlight-reel variety. He can beat anybody in a one-on-one battle. He’s one of the flashier players in the whole draft and he can take over games with his puck skills and passing.
Bourque has been Shawinigan’s number-one centre since his rookie year in the Q—no small feat for a 16-year-old. He put up 54 points in 64 games as a rookie for a 0.84 points-per-game pace, one that he almost doubled this season. He’s a shade over 5’10” and isn’t especially thick at 178 pounds, but he still digs into the tougher areas of the rink and plays decent defense. He’s good on face-offs and he kills penalties.
Bourque averaged over four shots and two high-danger chances per game in 2019–20, according to Dobber Prospects. He’s a high-volume shooter with a quick release and the shiftiness to confuse defenders and goalies. He’s managed to create a ton of offense for himself on some seriously outgunned Shawinigan teams, and he’s been able to capitalize on a lot of his chances. In a lot of respects, he’s been a one-man wrecking crew.
Over at McKeen’s Magazine, Benoit Belanger concisely detailed Bourque’s ability as a centreman (subscribers only for the full article):
[Bourque’s] progress has been significant and quite impressive. This lets us project a possible high ceiling talent. Mavrik Bourque can play both on the wing and at center, but it is as a center that I see him for the future. He is responsible in all the three zones, he can win his one against one battles and he has the skills to follow the pace as a centerman. Bourque is a forward with a nice shot and high end playmaking ability. I like his shooting arsenal. The Cataractes player has soft hands combined with a very nice vision.
Steve Kournianos took note of Bourque’s ability to control games in his profile at The Draft Analyst:
Bourque doesn’t need to put on a show or hog the spotlight to look flashy or impressive — it simply comes out naturally. He likes to remain upright and observe play quite frequently, but he can drop an quick first step from his defensive zone and dart into open ice with a long stride. Although Bourque isn’t overly physical, he is willing to take a hit to complete a play. He’s definitely more of a silent assassin than someone who makes a lot of noise during his shifts, but by the end of the night he’ll have three or four points and at least four or five quality shots on net.
Bourque scored 29 goals and 71 points in 49 games for Shawinigan this year, tied for the team lead in points with 16-year-old Xavier Bourgault (impressive for such a young player, but Bourgault played 14 more games). His 42 assists led the team. Bourque also had a seven-point game on February 1 in a 7-4 Shawinigan win over the Halifax Mooseheads.
Here’s a list of draft-eligible QMJHL players who scored more points this year than Mavrik Bourque:
- Alexis Lafrenière (112 in 52 GP)
That’s it. Bourque’s 71 points ranked in a tie for 18th in QMJHL scoring this year, but, considering that he missed 14 games with an upper-body injury, looking at points-per-game paints a more accurate picture. In that category, he ranked ninth in the whole league with 1.45 P/GP, just beating out fellow first-time eligible player Dawson Mercer.
Availability and fit
This draft is full of highly-skilled centres, from Seth Jarvis to Connor Zary to Dylan Holloway to Hendrix Lapierre. But only one of those guys, Jarvis, shoots right, and he’s projecting to be a long shot to be available for the Flames to take at 19th. The Flames are in desperate need of right-handed forward prospects, and Bourque would fill that gap admirably. He oozes skill and has been described by more than one outlet as “fun to watch” and a player who keeps fans on the edges of their seats.
Most draft rankings have Bourque going right around the Flames’ current pick at 19th. If FC Hockey’s rankings were reality, Bourque would be a Flame come October 6 (they have him at 19th). Dobber Prospects has him slipping right out of the Flames’ reach at 18th, while Craig Button has him going one pick later (20th). Bourque is ranked 22nd by McKeen’s, 26th by Bob McKenzie, and 28th by ISS.