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Drafted fifth overall in the 2016 QMJHL Draft, Xavier Bouchard immediately made his mark with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. As a QMJHL rookie, he put up four goals and 30 assists for 34 points in 63 games. However, he did not record a point as the Drakkar were swept in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs. Bouchard was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team.
Bigger things were expected from the sophomore defenceman this year. Things haven’t panned out exactly as hoped though. Bouchard’s numbers dropped as he put up three goals and 18 assists for 21 points in 65 games. He also went from a respectable -4 as a rookie, to a -30 in his second year in the league. These drops should be concerning, especially as there was little change in the fortunes of the Baie Comeau team. They finished 13th out of 18 teams in the QMJHL in both seasons.
Bouchard has represented Canada on the international stage, playing for Canada Red at the 2016-17 Under 17 World Hockey Challenge. He did not record a point in the six-game tournament.
Xavier Bouchard Scouting Report
Defense — shoots Right
Born February 28th, 2000 — Trois-Rivieres, Quebec
Height 6’3″ — Weight 191 lbs [191 cm / 87 kg]
At 6-foot-3 Bouchard is a very good skater for his size. He has good speed moving in both directions, and acclerates quickly. Bouchard also has very good edgework and agility. His pivots are smooth and crisp and he transitions from offence to defence well, and vice-versa. He also maintains good gap control and is tough to beat in one-on-one situations. Bouchard could stand to add more core and lower body strength. This would make him stronger on the puck and improve his balance.
Bouchard is a puck-moving defenceman. He is very poised with the puck on his stick, avoiding forecheckers and skating the puck out of danger. He is also able to take off and lead the rush. Bouchard finds the open man on the breakout, and runs the power play from the point. His biggest issue is that he sometimes tries to do too much. Bouchard needs to trust his teammates more and keep the play simple at times. He needs to learn that he does not always need to make the fanciest play or get on the highlight reel to help his team to win.
At his best, Bouchard is calm and poised at the blue line, identifying opportunities and waiting for the perfect moment to pass the puck through an opening. He also has a very good slapshot. He uses his agility to walk the line and open up passing and shooting lanes. Bouchard would be more effective if he learned to keep his shot low. This would get the puck through traffic more often, and also lead to more tip-in and rebound opportunities for teammates.
Bouchard has high hockey IQ. He reads the play well, anticipating where the puck is going to go, and making an interception with his long stick. Once a turnover is created, he is ablie to quickly transition the puck and move it forwards. As a bigger defenceman, Bouchard could play a lot more physical game. He seems to lack a nasty streak. He could be harder in the corners, and more physical in containing the cycle game. He could also do a better job of clearing the front of the net. The defensive game is still a bit of a work in progress here.
Projection and Comparison
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. His game is reminiscent of Justin Schultz but this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on talent or ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Xavier Bouchard that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
BOISBRIAND, QC – NOVEMBER 24: Xavier Bouchard #20 of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar skates against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada during the QMJHL game at Centre d’Excellence Sports Rousseau on November 24, 2017 in Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada. The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada defeated the Baie-Comeau Drakkar 5-3. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)