Xavier Bourgault is a dynamic forward who has shown tremendous growth over three seasons in the QMJHL.
While it remains to be seen whether he will be a centre or a right winger at the professional level, every team could use a player who makes things happen in the offensive zone the way he does.
Here is everything you need to know about Shawinigan Cataractes star Xavier Bourgault.
Age: 18 (Oct. 22, 2002)
Weight: 172 pounds
Current team: Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
'Elite' offensive talent
As a late birthday Bourgault has three QMJHL seasons on his resume, which has given him more time to grow from a depth player to a top-line star.
Bourgault really found his offensive game in 2019-20 when he had 33 goals and 71 points in 63 games -- a 1.13 points per game rate. He then followed that up in the shortened 2020-21 campaign with 20 goals and 40 points in 29 games to improve to 1.38 points per game.
The 19-year-old doesn’t excel in just one area on offence either and instead uses his hockey sense to know which play is the right one to make. Whether it be to make a pass to a teammate or to take the shot himself, Bourgault’s decision-making ability has helped him find a lot of success at the junior level.
"I like how he processes the game, has an [ability of] finding the open spots and has an elite scoring touch," NHL Central Scouting's Jean-Francois Damphousse said in an interview with NHL.com. "He thinks fast, executes fast, and has a good combination of speed and agility."
Position not set in stone
Bourgault is listed as a centre but has also spent time on the right-wing on the Cataractes' top line alongside 2020 first-round pick Mavrik Bourque. The two players have similar profiles as offensive dynamos and proved to be a strong pair over the past two seasons.
At this stage of his career Bourgault projects as a winger who can drive the offence on a line at the pro level, but he hasn’t closed the door on a move back to the middle of the ice.
“I arrived in Shawinigan as a centre, but last year I played wing with Mavrik and I thought it went really well,” he said in an interview with CHL.ca earlier in the season. “This year, I’m playing the wing again. I can play both positions, it’s really not a problem.”
Focused on getting stronger
Bourgault knows that the players at the higher levels are bigger and stronger and he has dedicated himself to building up his strength this season. At six-foot and 172 pounds, he’s not the smallest player in the draft but he is in the lower percentiles.
“First of all, I need to work out in the gym to get stronger,” Bourgault said in the CHL.ca interview. “At the next level, guys are very strong and fast, so I’ve been working a lot on my speed and explosiveness.”
Part of his focus on improving his strength comes with his play away from the puck. NHL teams are constantly asking their players to play “200-foot games” so Bourgault has put extra emphasis on improving his play on the defensive end to add another element to his already impressive offensive repertoire.
His coach in Shawinigan, Ron Choules, has noticed the extra work Bourgault has put in and the results that it is generating.
“His work ethic has improved enormously,” Choules said in an interview posted on the QMJHL’s Youtube channel. “He wants to be responsible for 200 feet because that’s what NHL teams are looking for.”
Inspired by a pair of Bruins stars
Bourgault says he’s a fan of the Boston Bruins and their dynamic "Perfection Line." As a right-shooting forward who can score, the fit seems obvious.
“I really like Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak on the Bruins,” Bourgault told CHL.ca. “I just love to watch Pasta, he is so good offensively. And Bergeron, he is such a complete player.”
Bourgault already has one thing in common with Bergeron. This season he was a finalist for the QMJHL's Frank J. Selke Trophy for sportsmanship after recording only six penalty minutes in 29 games. Bergeron has won he NHL's Selke -- given to the best defensive forward -- four times.