Notebook: Beniers, Bourgault, Lysell & More
Every season, FCHockey’s scouts are scouring the globe to get eyes on prospects eligible for the 2021 NHL Draft and beyond.
They spend countless hours watching both live games and game tape to get the best possible analysis on the prospects entering the NHL Draft. Our Unpacking the Scouting Notebook series takes a look at some of the reports that FCHockey’s scouts have filed over the past week.
From the NCAA’s Matthew Beniers to the MHL’s Vladimir Sychyov, here’s a glimpse at our scout’s analysis from the past week.
Matthew Beniers, C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
Michigan 3 – Arizona State 0 – November 15, 2020
Scouting report by Brandon Holmes
Matty Beniers had a fantastic showing in Michigan’s second consecutive victory over Arizona State, as the freshman forward skated away with a primary assist in the Wolverines 3-0 win. Beniers played in all situations for Michigan during his 17:03 of time-on-ice, skating on the penalty kill, powerplay, and as both the 4th and 3rd line center throughout the game, receiving a promotion midway through the game after John Beecher went down with an injury. His game is defined at both ends of the ice by his elite hockey sense; Beniers is able to read and process the play incredibly well, constantly adjusting his positioning and moving around the ice in order to support pucks and give his teammates options at both ends of the ice. While handling the puck, Beniers has fantastic vision, allowing him to weave through coverage and find open pockets of ice, and often displays great playmaking ability and can deliver the puck to teammates through open seams in the offensive zone. Beniers is constantly looking to feed pucks into high-danger areas on the ice and isn’t afraid to play the net-front as well to make himself available for scoring opportunities. Beniers was very impressive on his feet in this game, both in strength and mobility. Oftentimes Beniers’ stride was smooth and effortless, allowing him to pull away and evade checkers with relative ease, while also showing occasional flash in his puck skills to beat defenders one-on-one. Beniers appeared to be quite strong on his skates and was willing to absorb checks in order to protect pucks from opposing defenders, and in turn, this made him a very effective player on the cycle below the dots in the offensive zone. Beniers split time the past couple of seasons with the US Development Program between center and wing, and in this game, Beniers showed himself incredibly capable of playing the center ice position. Beniers did struggle in the faceoff dot, winning just above 40% of his draws, but he appeared to be incredibly comfortable at the center position and seemed to be a natural fit for the spot. Beniers saw the ice fantastically well in both zones, committed to his own defensive end, assisted his defensemen in clean breakouts, and displayed very good puck distribution skills – all aspects you would love to see in a future top 6 center at the pro level.
Xavier Bourgault, C, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Shawinigan 5 – Chicoutimi 3 – October 11, 2020
Scouting report by Dylan Galloway
Xavier Bourgault is one of the better offensive forwards from the QMJHL this season and came away with 2 points in this game with a goal and an assist. An agile skater with plenty of skill and smarts, Bourgault has a highly intriguing two-way skillset. When it comes to skating Bourgault is quick and agile and is particularly excellent in tight space and through traffic. His edges are one of his best assets and he weaves and turns with ease, making him slippery with the puck. While his positioning might not always be perfect, his ability to quickly change direction enables him to create and take away space depending on the situation. His North-South skating is fine, if not above average but he never really blows you away with speed, and he certainly didn’t show any explosive separation speed. Instead, Bourgault naturally mixes in his edge work to create the perception of speed and to keep up with the pace of play. His straight away and open ice skating lacks explosiveness and I found his strides to be lacking the length and power to really propel him at any great speed. That being said, his short quick strides combined with his upright back and a wide stance help him be agile and react to the play with great quickness. His assist came off the rush, as he entered the zone as the F3 and trailed the F2 slightly, gaining the centre lane. He received the pass and made a nice one-touch pass under pressure to get it to his teammate streaking to the net. This play displayed Bourgault’s decent skating ability to get him to the right spot on the ice and then continue pushing his opponent back through positioning, and then end the play with good vision and passing skills. His skill and vision overall were quite excellent in this game and he obviously excels in traffic with the puck on his stick. Bourgault’s smarts really help him get to the right positions all over the ice. He is constantly hovering around the play and has an innate sense of when to strike with his stick and skating. Bourgault’s positioning translates fairly well to the defensive side of the puck as well, though it is a bit more inconsistent in this area and sometimes misses his assignment in hopes of an early zone exit. During the game, I noticed that Bourgault consistently played all 3 forward positions which may have resulted in the misunderstanding of his given defensive assignments. In saying that though Bourgault needs to learn to adapt to the situation and ensure that he covers up for his teammates when there is a misread on anyone’s part. While this is my first viewing of Bourgault, I’m really intrigued by his skill set and potential to be a middle 6 two-way contributor at the next level.
Matthew Coronato, LW, Chicago Steel (USHL)
Chicago 8 – Muskegon 10 – November 14, 2020
Scouting report by Josh Bell
Coming into this game, I knew that I was going to pay close attention to Matthew Samoskevich and Ryan Ufko. But one player kept grabbing my attention: Matthew Coronato. The forward stood out in this game in his play and on the scoresheet, collecting two goals and two assists. When he’s on the ice, you’ll notice the fact that he never takes his foot off the gas, he might have the highest competitiveness of any player I’ve watched this season. In his movement, he has good ankle flexion and shin angle, but I would like to see him a little more upright in his chest. He tends to be a little bit too hunched over. He expertly uses lateral crossovers in his skating, gaining speed in the process. In his forward stride, he can be a little choppy. But his four-way mobility is very good, he’s very light on his feet. I like his awareness in both ends. He dishes the puck out well in the offensive zone, showing off some deceptive, no-look passes. He’s hard on puck carriers, using poke checks and stick lifts to force turnovers and make it hard on the puck carrier. He had an excellent play in this game where he stripped the puck at the offensive zone blue line, went in all alone and beat the goalie with a quick snap shot. His small area game is good, however, he does tend to hold on to the puck a little too long when under pressure. Getting off passes faster in these situations would help his game. This may be a bigger concern in his processing speed, but seeing how he plays in other aspects of the game, it’s not overly concerning. Yet it is something I will keep an eye out for throughout the season. I think Coronato may push to be the top player taken from the Steel in the 2021 NHL Draft.
Fabian Lysell, LW, Frolunda J20 (J20 Nationell)
Frolunda J20 5 – Malmo 4 – October 14, 2020
Scouting report by Derek Neumeier
Fabian Lysell is the type of player that is alone worth the price of admission. He is a truly electric talent, using his fantastic speed, hands and hockey sense to blaze around the ice and make dramatic things happen. He is a machine when it comes to zone exits and entries, taking no time at all to hit his excellent top gear while also having the hands and the crossovers to smoothly dart around or through traffic. Not only can he play fast, he also knows where to go and where his teammates are headed. Even more impressive, he’s not just blindly trying to go fast all the time, as he picks the right situations to stop, curl and set things up for his team in the offensive zone. He’s equally as dangerous in the cycle as on the rush, as he can circle the zone and play keep-away with the puck until he finds an opening. His passes are crisp and accurate, and he can make backhands, saucers and backhand sauces all look easy. He makes the job of opposing defenders extra difficult thanks to a great motor and a competitive focus, allowing him to go for a second end-to-end rush in a single shift if the first one doesn’t pan out. He also routinely applies his motor and work ethic on the backcheck. He lacks size and strength, but his elite awareness and slipperiness should mitigate that problem even after he moves to smaller ice. There is, however, one major knock on Lysell, and that’s his shot. None of his wrist shot, slapper or one-timer have the power or quickness coming off of his stick to be dangerous, and it’s hard to see that changing long-term. Any goals he scores will primarily have to come from carving or sneaking his way to the home plate. Lysell is easily one of the most purely skilled forwards in this draft, and will be selected accordingly.
Vladimir Sychyov, RW, SKA-Varyagi (MHL)
SKA-Varyagi 3 – Mytischi 2 2 – October 5, 2020
Scouting report by Donesh Mazloum
Vladimir Sychyov immediately jumps off the page thanks to his unbelievable skating abilities however the further this game progressed the more questions about his game arose. On the positive side, Sychyov is a truly gifted skater. He has flexible hips and ankles that allow him to keep his blades glued to the ice through the entirety of his leg extension in both straight lines and during crossovers. The quickness in his feet and ability to direct power forward in his first three steps are borderline picture perfect. His balance and edgework in turns and transitions are similarly impressive in that he is always centred and in control. There is very little inefficiency or wasted momentum in his movement and he can be overwhelming when closing on a puck carrier. A player with his skating attributes and the space provided by big ice should feast on the junior ranks however I was a little underwhelmed with his impact in the offensive zone. While he uses his pace to great effect to close gaps both on the forecheck and backcheck, he doesn’t show that same gear on the attack quite as consistently. He doesn’t seem to have any issues with puckhandling at top speed so I think the issue may stem more from the added mental responsibility of a puck carrier. His hockey IQ is not a glaring issue however there were multiple instances in this game that made me question the scope of his on-ice awareness. He particularly seems to lack spontaneity and mental flexibility when it comes to exploiting defensive breakdowns. He seems locked into the simple or standard play regardless of what the opposing defence is offering. He’s generally in the right spots and will keep the play alive but without that killer instinct to take advantage of miscues, he’s not someone a team can lean on offensively. While his overall gameplay isn’t as cohesive as you might want from a first-round selection, I can see why some view him that way as his elite skating abilities are a great base to build around. If his offensive instincts ever catch up, look out.
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