Draft eligible players can come from anywhere and play any myriad kind of styles. It’s one of the great strengths
Zach L’Heureux plays a gloriously aggressive, unsubtle game that would likely make any Bruins fan very excited.
L’Heureux on the attack is a shooter and a puck-possessing force, able to use quick thinking, some agile skates, and a willingness to get physical to ensure the cycle game stays going, and when he gets the puck, he is going to move hell and high water to get to the dirty areas and put a blast through the goalie as quick as he can using some explosive starts. Combine that with some really solid hands, and a ride-or-die mentality in every single shift he gives...man...there’s a lot to like about this kid already.
Where it comes to concerns, while L’Heureux is an excellent skater mechanically, his ultimate top speed is not really all that much to write home about, and so he’s really not the kind of player who can go create offensive opportunities on his own. He’s played more as the guy who takes the shot off the rebound rather than the initial big shot, if you will. Further, while he’s an excellent shot, centers should also be able to do a bit of defense, and ultimately L’Heureux has shown relatively basic and ultimately rather poor instincts in that regard, with Canes Country’s Matthew Somma describing his style as “Matador defense”, which is kind of shocking given his propensity for physical play:
...where you step aside, flail your stick and the player goes right past you. L’Heureux is often guilty of that in the defensive zone, especially when the puck first crosses the blue line. He’ll take a lazy swat at the puck with his stick and then get caught out of position because of it.
And of course, when it comes to a player this aggressive, there are going to be discipline concerns. While L’Heureux has stated he’s taking inspiration from guys like Matthew Tkachuk and Brad Marchand, the actual plays he makes seems to get a lot of people thinking about players like Nazem Kadri with the kind of boneheaded decisions he makes. He received four suspensions in his own draft year, two for specifically unsportsmanlike conduct, including one after a fight where he just kept going and spat on somebody, indicating a player who might be a bit easier to rattle than at first glance, and could be a liability at worst. Drafting him will require some pretty intensive coaching regarding his discipline and defensive work.
Were he merely an aggressive scorer, L’Heureux would probably be a prospect looking to go in the top half of the draft, but a wonky stop-and-start QMJHL season and serious defensive and discipline concerns have ensured that nobody really agrees on where it’s safest to pick him. Some believe he’s easily a late first rounder, while some believe his faults are too numerous to ignore, and believe he should be left out of the first round entirely. Still, there’s always a market for a physical player, even if it means you may have to pay for the lumps he gives out.
It’s up to the GM to decide whether or not he’s worth it.
- 30th by EliteProspects’ Consolidated Rankings
- 27th by EliteProspects.com
- 45th by FC Hockey
- 30th by Neutral Zone Hockey
- 27th by TSN (Bob McKenzie)
- 31st by McKeen’s Hockey
- 12th by TSN (Craig Button)
- 30th by NHL Central Scouting among North American Skaters
- 31st by SportsNet
- 28th by ISS Hockey
- 40th by DobberProspects
- 35th by Smaht Scouting
- 12th by The Puck Authority
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