As we reported yesterday, 21 year old Montreal native Olivier Galipeau was expected at the rival Montreal Canadien’s development camp this week, only to spurn Les Habitants at the last second after being offered a contract with the Bruin’s American Hockey League affiliate in Providence. The talented left shot defenseman, who told media he grew up a Canadiens fan living less than 45 minutes away from the Bell Centre, was an overager in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL), most recently with Patrice Bergeron’s former junior team, the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, with whom he won the QMJHL and Memorial Cup title in 2017-18.
Prior to that he spent time with the Val-d’Ors Foreurs and the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, serving as Captain for both teams. While his QMJHL resume is undeniably impressive, most notably having the most point and goals by a defenseman last season, en route to winning the Defenseman of the Year award, questions lingered about his upside.
These were seemingly based on an assumption that he was dominating in large part as a result of being a year or two older than most of his QMJHL counterparts. While being a year or two further developed certainly helps, was it a legitimate enough reason for the talented blue liner to twice go undrafted, despite traveling to the draft both times? I reached out to a source in the QMJHL to get some insight from someone who has watched his junior career, this is what they said:
“Prototypical shut down physical presence with great offensive upside, can play in any situation I think (the) big knock is skating”
The source also went on to say that while he may need time in the AHL, he was a great pickup and will be quick to adapt.
With Galipeau getting his first full day of Bruins Development Camp under his Black and Gold belt, after quietly arriving partway through Wednesday’s session, fans and media alike were able to get a glimpse of his skill set. My initial reaction was that he was smaller than the advertised 6’ and 203 lbs he is listed at, but he fit in well on the ice, effectively breaking up 2 on 1 forward rushes with an active stick, and while his speed isn’t anything to write home about, he does seem to have strong positioning and covers his area without wasted strides/effort. An admittedly off the board player comparison came to mind in John-Michael Liles, at least later in his career when he shifted away from an offense first approach and become more of a well rounded, middle to bottom pair player.
Starting off with some small ice drills. New Providence Bruin and immediate fan favorite dman Olivier Galipeau is on the ice wearing #56 in white. pic.twitter.com/5UQ79YCewn— StanleyCup ofChowder (@cupofchowdah) June 28, 2018
Following the on ice session, Galipeau spoke with members of the media, including myself. Here were the main takeaways:
On what his style of play is, in his words - “My main strength is my defensive game, with my physical side. I can move the puck well on the offensive side, can shoot the puck. Basically a defensive defenseman with good offensive upside.”
On how he felt in his first development camp- “I got here in between two practices, I went out for the second practice, everything went well. I got treated pretty well, the guys are nice here.”
On going undrafted twice and the lessons he learned - “I was listed back then twice, when I was 17 and 18. I went both times to the draft... you can’t get frustrated from that, just get motivated from there... It was motivation, trained hard, worked hard and made my way here.”
On what he is focused on in his first professional camp - “I want to have an impact on the team if I can, right away. I know it’s my first year with the team, I’ll have to get familiar with the league too. I’ll work hard on my mobility and speed this summer... Everything faster, everything better.”
For him, signing with the Bruins came down to being given a contract instead of a Canadiens tryout with “maybe an offer after”. He confirmed the initial report stating his deal being a one year AHL deal with Providence, where as it stands now, he looks to be a key member of their blue line.
Despite ditching his hometown team for their hated rival, he says he isn’t getting chirped by friends or family, who are just happy to see him succeed. Montreal fans may be a different story, but it’s no sweat off his back as he looks forward to making a mark as a first year pro.
I asked him if he's getting chirped for jumping ship from his hometown Habs to the hated Bruins: "Friends were just happy for me, probably fans from Montreal but I don't really care about any of that" #NHLBruins https://t.co/20Rg6Mqy7E— Colin Beswick (@CBeswick) June 28, 2018
Despite growing up a Canadiens fan, he says these days he’s “more of a Bruins fan” and he’s really looking forward to being a part of the Bruins organization. He has the skill set and the right attitude needed to find success as a professional hockey player and that’s reason enough for locals fans to welcome the twice undrafted, talented kid from Montreal.