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The first overall pick in the 2016 QMJHL Draft, Benoit-Olivier Groulx is the son of longtime QMJHL coach, and current Syracuse Crunch coach, Benoit Groulx. This season he put up 28 goals and 27 assists for 55 points in 68 games for the Halifax Mooseheads. He was even better in the playoffs, scoring two goals and six assists for eight points in nine games. Unfortunately, the Mooseheads would fall to the Charlottetown Islanders in a second-round sweep. Last summer he was part of Canada’s Ivan Hlinka Team that brought home a gold medal. Groulx had two goals and an assist in the five-game tournament
This follows up on a solid performance, scoring 17 goals and 31 points in 62 games as a rookie last season. Groulx was also the captain of Team Canada Red at the 2016-17 Under 17 World Hockey Challenge, putting up a goal and an assist in the five-game tournament. He was an alternate Captain for Team Canada at the 2016 Youth Olympic Games, scoring four goals and two assists in six games, and winning a silver medal.
Benoit-Olivier Groulx Scouting Report
Centre/Left Wing — shoots Left
Born February 6th, 2000 — Rouen, Quebec
Height 6’1″ — Weight 192 lbs [185 cm / 87 kg]
Groulx’s skating is a work in progress. While it is clear that he has improved in the last two years, there is still plenty of work to be done. His speed is merely mediocre, though it was well below average when he first entered the QMJHL. His first few steps have also improved, but could still come a bit further. Groulx has good footwork and agility, he moves well laterally and can make a number of quick cuts to create space. He is also strong on his skates, as he protects the puck well down low, and wins battles on the boards and in front of the net.
Groulx is a pure sniper. He has the soft hands to finish plays in tight to the net. He can get the puck up quickly on both his forehand and backhand. His slap shot is an absolute bomb, but he does not use it that often. The wrist shot is so strong and has such a quick release that it has become Groulx’s weapon of choice. It is legitimately one of the best wrist shots in the draft. Groulx gets to the tough areas of the ice, and battles for position when there. He can also score with deflections.
Groulx is an excellent stick handler and can make plays off the rush as well as on the cycle. He can also play the role of playmaker, with good vision and passing skills. If defenders shade too far to take away his shot, he can make a pass to a teammate. He controls the puck well below the dots and extends plays. While the offensive skills are there, he has not produced as much as expected. The skating is the main weakness here, if he can improve that aspect of his game, he could really take off.
One area where Groulx excels is on the defensive side of the game. His positioning is outstanding, and this helps to hide his skating flaws in the defensive end. He is also extremely smart, as he often seems to be a step ahead of the opponent, anticipating and breaking up plays. Groulx is not afraid to support the defence in the cycle and uses his size to contain opponents.
Projection and Comparison
Groulx has the potential to be an effective second line centre, playing against top lines and providing offence at the NHL level. However, he must improve his skating. If he does not, then the offensive upside becomes more limited and he will top out as a third or fourth liner. It also has an effect on his position. Groulx, a natural centre, has spent most of this season playing wing for Halifax, mainly due to the skating concern. The skill set to do more is there, its a matter of developing the weakest aspect of his game. Groulx’s game resembles Ryan Kesler, but this is a stylistic comparison only, and not one based on skill or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the many highlight packages of Groulx that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
BOISBRIAND, QUEBEC – OCTOBER 20: Benoit-Olivier Groulx #19 of the Halifax Mooseheads skates the puck against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada during the QMJHL game at Centre d’Excellence Sports Rousseau on October 20, 2017, in Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada. The Halifax Mooseheads defeated the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 4-2. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images Sport)