Notebook: Bourgault, Lucius, Pinelli & 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 Notebook series takes a look at some of the reports that FCHockey’s scouts have filed over the past week.
Here’s a glimpse at our scout’s analysis.
Xavier Bourgault, C, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
Shawinigan 5 – Rouyn-Noranda 1 – January 22, 2021
Scouting report by Théo Lambert
Xavier Bourgault is a very skilled and smart forward. It is very nice to see him move around the ice, as he skates with such ease. He is very fast, agile, and quite explosive too. He also has some very nice puck-handling skills and can show a lot of creativity and deception when he has the puck in the offensive zone. During this game, he manipulated his opponents very effectively on a couple of rushes by slowing down or accelerating, by selling the shot in order to pass, and by just making good decisions with the puck in those situations. He created a ton of scoring chances for himself and for his teammates throughout the whole game. Bourgault was so dangerous and creative in the offensive zone that he could have easily added two or three passes to his point total during his game. He can also facilitate the play for his teammates, as he constantly found open space to create passing lanes for his teammates, which led to him scoring three goals. Bourgault showed that he can really do it all offensively during this game. I think he just needs to continue working on his overall strength and just continue to polish his offensive tools, and he could be a very dangerous weapon in the offensive zone. Even though he scored three goals during this game, I think one aspect that Bourgault could work on is his shot, which could help him become even more dangerous, as defenders would have to respect it a bit more and consequently open more space for Bourgault to find his teammates. An element of the game that Bourgault will have to clean up is his decision-making in the central zone, and in his own zone. In this game, he sometimes tried plays that were a bit too risky, that ended up in turnovers. The same kind of comment can be made from his play in the defensive zone. During this game, I felt like he was slightly out of position at times, but I think it is just a matter of consistency, as he was well-positioned most of the time, and did a nice job to cut off plays in his zone at times too. In this game, I also liked his overall compete level, as he showed some nice hustle in both his forechecking and backchecking game. There was one sequence that I particularly liked from him that showcased his compete level and mindset, as he completed a great backcheck, late in the game and leading 5-1, to take the puck away from his opponents, quickly move it out of his zone to a teammate and following the play to take the puck away from a defender in the offensive zone and drop it to Olivier Nadeau who almost scored. Bourgault needs to continue to work on his strength and fix some aspects of his defensive game, but I really like his offensive tools.
Andre Gasseau, LW, USNTDP (USHL)
USA U18 2 – Youngstown 5 – January 30, 2021
Scouting report by Dylan Krill
Andre Gasseau has intriguing qualities that will stand out to many teams at the draft. He is a 6’4” Center with good skating and defensive awareness. He has the potential and ability to become an effective middle 6 forward at the next level but needs to improve on a few things if he wants to contribute more offense. Gasseau has good skating ability for his size, having a strong stride, able to generate acceleration well when given space. He’s solid on his edges and was able to stop and go efficiently, covering a lot of ice consistently. He uses his size well, protecting and controlling the puck well along the boards. He did struggle with making offensive zone entries with full control, often losing the puck by defender’s poke checks and stick lifts. He was successful when dumping the puck and applying a strong forecheck to go retrieve it. One concern that seemed to be consistent in this game was his decision-making with the puck. Giving it up too quick and easily when under pressure, making poor passing choices and forcing plays that aren’t there, and trying to make the skilled pass instead of the smart pass. His defensive game caught my eye a few times. On one play he made a great read in the offensive zone, cutting off the defender’s pass trying to clear the puck out and intercepting it from behind the net, then finding a teammate in the slot for a scoring chance. On the PK, he looked very confident and never looked overwhelmed or out of place, always in a good position to take away space and willing to block shots. He uses his reach to his advantage, able to take away space very effectively with good stick placement to poke and steal pucks away. With his size, I’d like to see him utilize his body more and bring a physical presence to his game. There were many chances he could’ve made an impactful hit to take away possession, but elected to try and poke the puck away instead, but was not successful. I have confidence in saying he will be an NHL player one day, but the big question is, will he only be an effective bottom-six player or more.
Chaz Lucius, C, USNTDP (USHL)
Chicago 4 – USA U18 5 – February 19, 2021
Scouting report by Dylan Galloway
Chaz Lucius plays his first game of his draft year and doesn’t seem to have missed a beat picking up 2 goals in the win. His creativity with the puck and hand-eye coordination is what immediately stands out. His first goal came off a quick change in possession after some good hard work down low by Lucius. He collected the puck and slapped a quick hard shot up high on the Steel goalie. Lucius was able to get the shot off from a bad angle and nearly mid-stride. The shot could use some more power behind it, but the accuracy and his timing of the shot were excellent. Lucius reads the play well and is highly creative, making it difficult to read what he’s going to do with the puck when it’s on his stick. His shot is dangerous, but he’s also excellent at finding tight passing seams and hitting teammates in open ice, really helping his team use the full sheet of ice. Lucius owns some great edges, allowing him to change directions on a dime. He can change his attack angles and keep up with opponents with relative ease with how mobile he is. His quick feet, good crossovers also allow him to get up to speed quickly and create time and space for himself. He didn’t display an elite top-end speed in this game, but his linear crossovers through transition allow him to create some difficulty in keeping him to the outside lane. He’s great at finding space even while under pressure. In combination with his slick hands and skating Lucius is incredibly dangerous on offence, but he also showed solid defensive abilities with his compete and quick stick lifts. He was a positive possession player for his team competing hard through all 3 zones, but particularly in the offensive and neutral zones. Excellent first game back for Lucius.
Owen Murray, D, Green Bay Gamblers (USHL)
Green Bay 3 – USA U18 2 – February 21, 2021
Scouting report by Dylan Krill
I have yet to watch a game where I didn’t leave impressed by Owen Murray. He’s very consistent with his decision-making and has moments of nice flash to his game, while still understanding when he can take risks or not. He has a long and powerful stride and was very capable of covering a lot of ice. He’s very elusive and is strong on his edges, making him efficient at changing direction smoothly to adapt to plays, not losing any momentum. His mobility allows him to stay in good positioning, keeping a strong gap between him and the puck carrier, while applying good pressure, trying to force takeaways. He was the main guy for the Gamblers to start their breakout and he displayed very good vision. Making smart decisions to either find an open teammate to make a pass to or carry the puck himself into the neutral zone. He could protect the puck well, using his quick hands, with deceptive shoulder and head fakes to deke past opponents and was successful with making offensive zone entries with control. He has really good stick placement, making him effective at holding the line to keep possession in the offensive zone, while also using it to suppress chances in the defensive zone. He completed the majority of his passes and was very accurate, rarely missing his target. He was able to make nice quick passes in-tight areas and even displayed a nice backhand saucer pass which was effective. In the offensive zone, Murray is very mobile, consistently moving into open space and giving his teammates passing options. He creates many options and makes it easy for teammates to find him when under pressure. He reads the play well, sometimes even helping teammates by directing them where to pass to or where to go. He seems to really understand what he needs to do and focuses on just that, never trying to be too fancy or giving a lack of effort, just consistently reliable, making him a coach’s favourite.
Evan Nause, D, Quebec Remparts (QMJHL)
Rouyn-Noranda 0 – Quebec 4 – February 18, 2021
Scouting report by Dylan Galloway
Evan Nause owns a really intriguing toolset as a remarkably poised and dynamic two-way defender. His mobility is his best asset and really enables him to be extremely effective on both sides of the puck. In addition, Nause is a clearly intelligent player with incredible in-game communication abilities, directing the play not only with his play but also verbally. Defensively, he is excellent at using his skating and sound positioning to deny centre ice and keep an excellent gap on the backcheck. Through the neutral zone and upon defensive zone entry, Nause has impeccable positioning, keeping his stick in lanes and really dictating where his opponents go. He’s capable of separating opponents from the puck with a good poke check or rubbing them out physically. His East-West mobility is excellent and allows him to cover a wide range of the ice. Sometimes he does get himself in trouble with his pinches and doesn’t have the top-end speed to get back when he’s stuck deeper in the offensive zone. When Nause is on the ice his team doesn’t spend a ton of time in the defensive zone as he’s excellent at turning the puck up ice. His passing isn’t fancy but it gets the job done. He’s a very effective puck distributor and finds the best pass available with relative ease. He’s also very intelligent at anticipating the play and knows when to jump up into the zone, or dropping back off the line. Offensively he’s got decent hands but is just very good at reading the play and making a pass more than being highly dynamic with his offensive play. Overall, I think Nause is a great all-around package and could really turn out to be a solid two-way defender at the next level.
Francesco Pinelli, C, Jesenice (AlpsHL) – LOAN
EHC Linz II 1 – Jesenice 3 – February 16, 2021
Scouting report by Josh Bell
Right from the start of this game, you could tell that Francesco Pinelli was the best player on the ice. On his first touch, he carries the puck through the NZ and deep around the net, circling. He brings it back to the top of the house, pulling the defense with him. He then sees a teammate just below the dot who can’t catch the pass. Shortly after, Pinelli picks up the puck along the boards with two men on, making a no-look, hook pass to the top of the slot. The vision and awareness were on full display through his first two touches of the game. His posture is excellent, showing good flex in his ankles and knees. He’s so light on his feet, quickly shifting his feet to open his hips to the 10-2 position to add a level of deception and creativity to his game. I do think he has another gear in his skating that he didn’t show in this game. He doesn’t seem to be getting full extensions in his stride. However, he does build speed very quickly thanks to quick, lateral crossovers that he uses often in his skating. He showed bursts in this game, but I do think he has more. Good shot mechanics, getting his weight down on his stick as he brings his top hand in close and releases his knee. However, on his next shot, he’s in the “A” frame stance and has just a sweeping shot from the top of the slot without any force behind it. He seems to always be looking for the lanes to the net, quite often finding them. He shows his commitment to the defensive side of the puck as well, often the first forward back and getting deep to help his defenders. He’ll also hang back when his defender has jumped up in the rush. Later on though, he did let up on getting back, resulting in his man getting free and a high-danger shot against. This came when he looked absolutely gassed after a 50-second shift. In fairness, this seemed to be a one-off. His passing in the offensive zone is very impressive, faking shots and passing it cross-crease with a hook to throw the goaltender and defense off. He utilizes weight shifts to move quickly around defenders, bursting with some speed as he adjusts his pace on the fly. The fearlessness in a men’s league is impressive. He constantly tries to push through traffic, sometimes it pays off, other times he puck handles himself into a turnover. He has no problem bringing the puck into small-spaces, but getting out is a little hit and miss – which is still more than expected for a teenager in a men’s league. He has a nose for white space in the offensive zone, using quick edges and light feet to quickly drive the net after sliding behind the defender. His hands move so quickly with the puck, matching his feet, however, he can get stuck with his head down when in a tight spot. The offensive awareness, vision, deception, and footwork that Pinelli possesses will help carry him to the next level and he could very well be a second liner if he hits his ceiling. He’ll need to improve his small-area game, but he has the fearlessness, feet, and hands to accomplish that.
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