Harvey-Pinard enters NHL Draft again with Marchessault comparisons

Rouyn-Noranda Huskies' Rafael Harvey-Pinard hoists the Memorial Cup after defeating the Halifax Mooseheads. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)

HALIFAX – The comparisons between Rafaël Harvey-Pinard and Vegas Golden Knights forward Jonathan Marchessault are plenty.

They’re both five-foot-nine, weigh about the same and are also no stranger to proving people wrong.

That’s why it was fitting the two shared a line together last fall at Golden Knights training camp where Harvey-Pinard received a lot of advice from Marchessault.

“I think you can learn a lot about him,” Harvey-Pinard said at the Memorial Cup. “He wasn’t drafted in the Q, he wasn’t drafted in the NHL too. He was just working hard and good things happened for him.”

After being passed over in his first two years of eligibility for the NHL Draft, Harvey-Pinard has another chance to be selected by a club next weekend in Vancouver.

He made a good case this season with the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, leading them to both a league title and Memorial Cup championship. The 20-year-old winger had 40 goals and 45 assists through 66 games in the regular season for Rouyn-Noranda and served as team captain. He added to those totals in the playoffs with 27 points in 20 games and nearly half those points came in the final round against the Halifax Mooseheads, which included scoring a hat trick in Game 5 and striking twice in both Games 1 and 6.

Harvey-Pinard was traded to the Chicoutimi Sagueneens a day before the QMJHL draft and was subsequently named captain of his new team.

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Harvey-Pinard said he learned a lot by playing briefly at the pro level alongside Marchessault – William Karlsson also played on the same line – and said he needs to improve his skating and be more strong physically.

“I saw what I need to play for the next step in the pro,” Harvey-Pinard said.

Marchessault’s path to becoming a mainstay NHLer was anything but normal.

During four seasons under head coach Patrick Roy with the Quebec Remparts, he progressively got better and signed a free agent deal with Connecticut (now Hartford) of the American Hockey League for the start of the 2011-12 season.

He continued to improve and finally broke through during the 2016-17 campaign, scoring 30 goals with the Florida Panthers. Vegas claimed him in the expansion draft and his production hasn’t slowed down since.

“Every year he was getting better and we can see how far he is today,” Harvey-Pinard said. “Good NHL player and he is making a difference in the NHL.

“Every small guy, fast guy, can learn about him.”

Mario Pouliot coached Harvey-Pinard last season with the Huskies and marvelled at the impact he had on the team.

Pouliot said he’s a heart and soul player who brings a lot of energy and a strong work ethic.

“It’s an important part adding fun because it’s a long season and it’s really important to work hard,” Pouliot said before the Canadian major junior championship. “But at the same time, enjoying your time and adding fun is important because those kids are making a ton of sacrifices being away from their families and their friends.”

Harvey-Pinard’s work ethic is built from his father, Marc Pinard, who co-owns a pizzeria with his brother in Jonquière, Que.

He said his father was working 12 hour days, typically from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. when the business was starting out, and he learned a lot from being around him.

“When you’re young and see your father work that hard, you just want to work as hard as him and that’s what I’m trying to do on the ice and I think it works well for me,” Harvey-Pinard said.

Thinking about the draft wasn’t top of mind for Harvey-Pinard during the Memorial Cup. He hadn’t talked to any NHL teams before the tournament but understood how important it was having scouts in the stands during Huskies games.

He impressed by tying for third in tournament scoring with six points (one goal, five assists).

Although he wants to have his name heard at the draft in Vancouver, he would still be open to following a similar path to that of Marchessault.

“Even if I’m not drafted I want to have my chance to take the next step and I will work as hard as I can to be there.”

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