The Analysis: Maveric Lamoureux is a fascinating long-term project
With only a handful of top prospects coming out of the QMJHL this season, one draft eligible has been able to gain plenty of attention as a riser and potential first-round prospect for the 2022 NHL Draft.
Maveric Lamoureux quickly stands out through his thrilling physical attributes, gifted defensive expertise, and surprising mobility. The right-handed defenseman is already making scouts drool over the idea of what could be — a lengthy, defensively brilliant, puck-rushing blueliner.
But what’s the full picture with Lamoureux? Which areas of his game could allow him to succeed at the next level, and what sectors does he need to improve before ever thinking about making the jump?
To get a clearer sense of his potential and development path, let’s dig through the game of the Drummondville Voltigeurs defenseman.
There are plenty of reasons to get excited about Lamoureux, but visibly, everything starts with his eye-catching size and remarkable strength. The 6-foot-7, 196-pound defender does not only tower over his competition but he absolutely loves to use his height to his advantage. Drummondville’s rearguard poorly hides his excitement to play an aggressive, physical game, taking any opportunities flashing by to throw his body around and finish his checks with robustness.
Lamoureux’s dazzling hostility unsurprisingly leaves him amongst the top hitters in the QMJHL this season, and he looks just as good when comparing him to the top defensive prospects coming out of the league these last two years. He hits his rivals as frequently as about anyone.
But it’s not just about the frequency.
Lamoureux exhibited the raw upper-body strength to completely crush enemies, and toss around others. He greets any foolish escapades into his own end with one-way tickets to the surface of the ice, sending rivals flying with vicious open-ice hits. He leaves both fans and scouts in awe with his facility to dismantle opponents and toy around with them in corners.
Puck Battle Efficiency
Naturally, Lamoureux flaunts his imposing strength in puck battles and corner plays. Lurking between him and the wall is a good way to let the attack come to a dead end. In other words, the lengthy defender shines with an exceptional ease to pin adversaries to the boards. He separates them from the puck with force, and subsequently helps his partner get countless loose puck recoveries. His stickwork is just as perturbing and effective as well.
It’s a pretty similar story near the crease or in open ice. Lamoureux simply moves challengers away from the puck, neutralizing them before even reaching the puck battle. He cleans the front of the net with as much power as nonchalance.
The eye-test matches pretty closely with the stats here as well.
Lamoureux might not get into a ton of puck battles but he stays a very efficient participant. If he continues to fill up his frame, he has the potential to translate his proficiency along the wall to the highest level.
Disruptive Reach and Rush Defense
Lamoureux has his hits and misses — literally and figuratively — in his rush defense, but one thing is for certain: his reach, length and size can be truly disruptive. Combined with his very aggressive mindset, Lamoureux annoys puck-carriers with hasty pressure. He enjoys stepping up at his blue line to intercept passes or meet puck-carriers with physicality, radiating confidence on his pinches.
He infuriates his enemies just as much when he controls the gap and uses his frame and lengthy reach as a barricade to the middle of the ice. He exasperates them with strong pushes and well-time pokes, and can, once again, knock them off the puck comfortably.
On the Breakout
Lamoureux is an extremely raw prospect, and that’s probably still an understatement. Scouts are certainly not selecting him so highly for his current level of play, but rather for the player you believe he can become. And for Lamoureux, his multitude of flashes act as a window to the future.
A major part of the aura surrounding Lamoureux comes from his surprising mobility and glimpses of confidence as a puck-mover. Lengthy defensive defensemen will come up at the draft every so often, but it’s quite uncommon to see a prospect his size move so fluidly and be so keen to take the control of breakouts.
He hints at his puck-rushing potential on the daily, flashing the ability to evade light pressure with smart shoulder fakes, brisk turns, rapid crossovers (especially turning left), and decent top speed. He also shows a willingness to try dekes and dodge forecheckers with direction changes, though he still isn’t the craftiest puck-handler. Additionally, Lamoureux shows some smooth edges, a great lateral mobility, and fluid skating transitions in open space.
Lamoureux is an inconsistent passer, yet his highs as a puck-mover captivate.
He shows the enthusiasm to try stretch passes and push the pace with his outlets. And when he successfully keeps his composure and stays aware of his surroundings, dealing with pressure and finding passing options seem very straightforward.
Don’t get it wrong. Lamoureux still has long ways to go before becoming an efficient puck-mover, but his flashes rightfully continue to intrigue and plant excitement into scouts’ minds.
Lamoureux’s offensive instincts are another interesting, evolving part of his transitional and offensive game. He will, at times, seamlessly activate into the counterattack or advance into an open spot on the cycle. Even though nothing comes from most of these actions, the simple fact that the defensively-minded rearguard is starting to make those reads and show an interest in playing a proactive offensive game is encouraging.
Though Lamoureux mostly offers a passive offensive support with basic reads and shots, he can occasionally glaze snippets of high-end aptitudes to remind everyone of his wonderful upside. His silky mobility, sly creativity, and sporadic elusiveness come together as he’s able to sidestep around pressure and bring the puck deep into the attacking end. He works primarily on the outside, where with less traffic, dexterity and quickness become subordinate.
These glimmers of assurance and intuition from the point are quite promising, with the next steps being to insert himself into the offensive with more regularity and refine his skills.
Lamoureux is a pretty smart, enthusiastic playmaker who can distribute the puck with adept reads and, from time-to-time, find neat setups to the slot. Although he’s not the most deceptive passer, his active eyes allow him to scan for and locate open teammates skillfully, and generate scoring chances at a respectable rate. He also enjoys sending low shot-passes to the crease to create chaos in front.
Every so often, Lamoureux flashes a powerful slap shot on reception on the power play. But with some poor shot selections, he has yet to gain respect as a scoring threat. He ends up sending a good portion of his attempts right into opponents pads.
He has notably collected three goals and 11 points in 32 games this season — projecting to a 22-point effort in his second season in the QMJHL.
He already posting above average, intriguing playmaking numbers, but his shooting stats depict well his modest on-ice scoring performances.
This is where we really get into the meat of things. We’ve talked about the foundation and the flashes, but what really matters for a diamond in the rough like Lamoureux is the long-term vision and development path.
With a shaky decision-making and erratic passing accuracy, Lamoureux has shown to be prone to turnovers on the breakout. His recurrent carelessness with the puck can lead to multiple scoring chances, or even occasional goals for the opposition. He can experience tunnel-vision under pressure, misread the forecheck, be hesitant with some of his feeds, or simply lack overall passing touch. Lamoureux can also take a second too long before sending his outlet by looking down at his puck, which allows the passing lane to close down.
Lamoureux unfortunately finds himself amongst the league leaders in defensive zone puck losses this season, and he’s looking just as bad in comparison to fellow QMJHL draft prospects. It will be crucial for him to start regulating his risk-taking, improve poise, and increase the precision of his first pass.
His underlying numbers in transition look rough, and somewhat disappointing for a potential first rounder. He’s already showing the flashes, but he clearly needs to be more reliable and consistent.
Skating Inconsistencies and Untapped potential
In many ways, Lamoureux’s skating is what differentiates him from other tall, defense-first rearguards. The best thing that can happen for his development might very well be to embrace his unique attribute and turn it into a superpower — improving his skating from surprising for his size to altogether phenomenal.
At the moment, Lamoureux flashes good mobility, edges and speed, but there’s still a ton of room to improve, particularly with his quickness, agility and balance. It can be tough for him to beat rivals in foot-races, escape pressure with pure quickness, slip through skating lanes, and stay elusive carrying the puck up the ice. Developing his explosivity and agility would make him a much more dynamic puck-carrier.
Poor Pivot and Gap Control
In a similar sense, Lamoureux will need to sharpen his pivot on the rush defense. He might terrorize some with his length and aggresiveness, but speedy attackers mostly see an opportunity to fly pass him on the outside. He gets caught flat footed way too many times, giving needless easy drives to the net.
His gap control can also be fluctuant, occasionally giving excessive time and space to attackers on the entry. In both cases, it will be beneficial for him to continue improving his backward mobility and first steps explosivity so he can adapt more effectively to his enemies speed and shutdown counterattacks.
Shaky Defensive Focus and Intensity
Lamoureux is usually a pretty implicated defender, but as with many young prospects his attention and decision-making can wobble, causing him to make poor rotations or remain static. He’s at his best when he keeps his feet and eyes active and stays combative.
His occasional nonchalance on puck recoveries also gives leverage to forecheckers, causing pointless turnovers.
The name of the game for Lamoureux will be to minimize his weaknesses by leveraging his strengths. What’s so unique about his skillset is that most of his deficiencies lay within his biggest assets. Despite his physicality, defense, and puck-moving abilities being at the forefront of his candidature, the five keys to his development will be to increase his reliability on breakouts, enhance his skating/agility, improve his pivot, boost his defensive focus, and fill up his frame.
Ultimately, Lamoureux is a fascinating long-term project who will probably leave scouts fighting for him at the end of the first round. But the most important part of his selection will be what happens after the draft — his development plan and path.
I have a pretty temperate assessment of Lamoureux. Like many scouts, I enjoy the physicality and long-term vision, but I’m prudent to label him as a top prospect. His undeveloped skill set will need time and attention to blossom, and I think it represents the perfect project for the middle of the second round.