Samuel Girard clocks in as the 38th-ranked North American prospect eligible for the 2016 NHL Draft, according to NHL Central Scouting. We must be missing something.
He was the highest-scoring defenceman in the CHL this season and he’s an explosive skater who possesses elite vision and playmaking ability.
He may only be 161 pounds—and that’s obviously a concern to all the prognosticators—but this kid has game up the wazoo.
Here’s everything you need to know about Samuel Girard.
Age on June 24: 18
Current Team: Shawinigan Cataractes
Position: Left Defence
Weight: 161 pounds
From: Roberval, Que.
NHL Central Scouting Rank (North America): 38th
Jeff Marek’s Take: He’s Brian Campbell to me. Undersized, but strong edge work and balance. Moves pucks well in transition and anchors the PP. Keeps getting knocked for stature, but continues to prove critics wrong.
Today’s game puts a premium on defencemen not only joining the rush, but leading it. Girard has proven he comes about those abilities naturally.
“A flashy offensive defenceman that takes advantage of opportunities and is always looking to make an impact each shift,” reads the report at eliteprospects.com. “Works very hard and isn’t afraid to play the body. Skates with exceptional exuberance and fluidity. Accurate release on his shot and a good eye for open passing lanes.”
Here’s what Girard looks like in action.
It’s not as if Girard just came out of nowhere this season. He put up 43 points in 64 games as a 16-year-old rookie with Shawinigan before shattering that total in 2015-16.
Scoring 10 goals and 64 assists for 74 points from the back end is certainly impressive, but even more impressive is that 32 of his helpers were primary assists.
And then Girard threw the gauntlet down in the playoffs, scoring 22 points in 20 games, ranking ninth overall in scoring.
Who better to comment on Girard’s ability than his coach, Claude Bouchard.
About Bouchard: He also coached Pittsburgh Penguins superstar defenceman Kris Letang when he was the same age as Girard currently is.
“He’s offensively better than Letang was at his age,” said Bouchard.
Perhaps it’s not just Girard’s size that got in the way of him ranking among the top-30 prospects eligible for this year’s draft. The QMJHL is a notoriously offensive league, and given Girard’s incredible output, he obviously has scouting agencies wondering about his defensive chops.
But considering that when Girard’s on the ice, the puck is almost always moving further away from his net, there’s merit to the idea he’s been underrated.
Girard also outscored all the top-rated defencemen slated for this year’s draft, from Olli Juolevi to Mikhail Sergachev to Jakub Chychrun, by more than 15 points.