October 6, 2017

Groulx taking poised approach to draft season

As one of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s top draft eligible talents, Benoit-Olivier Groulx is trying to keep things in check.

He’s not stressed about next June. He’s not over-thinking the scouts in the stands.

Groulx, 13th in Future Considerations’ preliminary ranking for the 2018 NHL Draft, isn’t putting any expectation on what’s to come.

His goals are elsewhere.

“I don’t think I do that,” Groulx said. “My goal is to play a good season and help my team to win. If I’m looking forward to the draft right now, for sure I want to get as high as I can, but I don’t want to put too much pressure on me.

“It’s a tough year, a long year.

“You have to take it step-by-step and see how it goes.”

Groulx would know about the pressures of a draft season.

He was the top pick in the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft after posting a 21-goal, 51-point season as an assistant captain with Gatineau L’Intrépide.

He also witnessed then-teammate Nico Hischier endure the season-long process before being snapped up first overall by the New Jersey Devils in the 2017 NHL Draft last June.

Needless to say, he’s well schooled.

And well prepared.

“He’s just willing to work,” said Halifax teammate and draft eligible defenseman Jared McIsaac. “He wants to get better every day. We were all lucky to be around Nico this year and I think all of us took a lot from him and put that into our game and vice-versa. We work off each other and now push each other. BO, he’s got all the tools. He can play every end of the rink and every way possible.

“He’s a power forward, a skilled forward…whatever has to be done, he does it.”

Groulx did as a 16-year-old in the QMJHL last season.

The now-17-year-old is coming off a rookie campaign with the Halifax Mooseheads where he scored 17 goals and added 14 assists for 31 points, and added a gold medal to his mantle with Canada’s entry at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament in August.

There’s plenty of momentum behind a strong draft season for Groulx.

And plenty of willingness to compliment it, too.

“He’s a really complete player,” said Halifax teammate and draft eligible goaltender Alexis Gravel. “He can play defense, he can play forward. On the PK he’s going to block shots. You’d think a first overall pick wouldn’t block shots, but he does whatever it takes to win.

“He’s there in important games. He’s going to be there.”

Come June, the expectation is that Groulx will be up on stage, tugging on an NHL jersey.

But he knows he’s still a long way off from that date.

“For sure. It’s hockey. It’s life, too. There’s a lot of ups and downs,” Groulx said. “You’ve just got to be tough mentally and go through this period of time. Having guys with us, we can help each other during this tough period of time.

“I’m really pumped for this season.”

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