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Alexis Vanier had a very solid season for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar despite a shoulder injury suffered in November that he continued to play through despite the pain. Vanier ended the season with 15 goals and 36 points for Baie-Comeau. Unfortunately the injury became too much to play through late in the year and Vanier was forced to undergo arthroscopic surgery which took him out for the entire playoffs. He has become a “cheerleader” for his teammates as Baie-Comeau are currently one win away from advancing to the Memorial Cup as they hold a 3-2 series lead on Val D’Or in the QMJHL final.
Defense — shoots left
Born Dec 21 1995 — St-Constant, PQ
Height 6.05 — Weight 214 [196 cm/97 kg]
Already at 6’5″, Alexis Vanier has the ideal size that many NHL teams would love to add to their blueline. At 215 pounds, he has already started to fill out that frame, and there is room to add even more muscle going forward. He’s also shown the ability to use it, and to do so effectively throwing big hits, rubbing out opponents along the boards, winning battles, and clearing the front of the net. On top of this he is a willing shot blocker, and cuts down passing lanes extremely well by taking advantage of his long stick. Vanier’s positioning and his anticipation and hockey IQ are also very good and this can help to somewhat make up for his lack of skating ability.
Vanier has also shown ability at the offensive end of the ice. He has an absolute howitzer from the blue-line and can unleash it either as a straight slap shot or as a one-timer. Vanier also has a very powerful and accurate wrist shot along with a good release. Improved agility and edgework which would allow him to better open up shooting lines. While he is more suited to be the trigger man of the powerplay than the quarterback, he does have decent passing skill, including a good first pass in his own zone, and even some decent vision and playmaking in the offensive zone.
Vanier’s biggest and most noticeable issue is the poor skating I have mentionned above. This seems to be a common problem amongst bigger players, but even for a 6’5″ player, he’s below average at this point. Vanier will need to work on his stride, his first step, and his pivots and edgework in order to become more mobile to play at the NHL level.
In terms of potential, Vanier looks like a real boom or bust prospect. With some hard work on improving his skating he could become a top four defender and a weapon on the powerplay. While not an assessment of potential, and just a look at style, he is reminiscent of Sheldon Souray of the Anaheim Ducks.
Here are some highlights of Alexis Vanier in action.
Come back tomorrow to check out my #39 prospect for the 2014 NHL Draft.
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