2015 NHL Draft Profile #46: Nicolas Meloche

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The 15th overall pick in the 2013 QMJHL Draft, Nicolas Meloche made an immediate impact for the Drakkar in the 2013-14 season, making the QMJHL all-rookie team and playing for Team Quebec in the January 2014 World Under 17 Hockey Challenge.  Even as a 16-year-old he was playing huge minutes as a top four defenceman, and being utilized on both the penalty kill and the powerplay. This past year, he put up 10 goals and 34 points in 44 games for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar this season. He added four goals and ten points in twelve games during the playoffs, as the Drakkar suffered a heartbreaking second round loss. Last summer he played for Team Canada at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, helping Canada to a seventh consecutive gold medal. Meloche also played for Team QMJHL in both games of the Subway Super Series against Russia, adding a goal in the process.

Nicolas Meloche

Defense — shoots Right
Born Jul 18 1997 — Rosemere, PQ
Height 6.03 — Weight 204 [191 cm/93 kg]

Nicolas Meloche has excellent size, and he’s certainly not afraid to use it. He plays a gritty game in the corners battling for pucks, and in front of the net working to clear the crease.  He also is willing to throw big hits when he gets the opportunity, but avoids getting himself out of position looking for those checks. He has outstanding positioning and defensive awareness for a player his age, reading and anticipating plays well, and almost always keeping good control and defensive posture.  He is not afraid to block shots, and does a great job using a long stick to cut down passing lanes. Meloche is also willing to drop the gloves if necessary to come to the aid of a teammate.

Nicolas Meloche’s skating is the biggest weakness in his game.  His startup and stride are choppy and awkward which take away from his speed and acceleration.  He needs to spend some time in the off-season working with a quality skating coach and working on his footwork.  His pivots and edgework aren’t bad though, and he’s able to avoid getting beat with speed due to that, as well as his excellent positioning and gap control, and his ability to pokecheck the puck away from attackers.  Meloche does have good power and strength on his skates though, he is tough to knock off the puck, and wins his board battles and clears the crease effectively due to this strength and balance.

Nicolas Meloche also plays on the powerplay for the Drakkar.  He has a very hard and accurate slapshot.  He understands the importance of getting it through shooting lanes, and keeping it low and on net, as he is able to give his teammates the opportunity for tip-ins and rebounds. Meloche makes a strong first pass, helping the Drakkar to start the transition game, and can make the long pass to spring an odd-man rush.  He has decent poise in controlling the puck an making plays in the offensive zone, but he’s more of the trigger man on the powerplay than a true powerplay quarterback.  He is willing to pinch down the wall to keep a puck in and keep plays alive, but is smart in doing so, and doesn’t often get caught deep.

Nicolas Meloche has the potential to develop into a strong top-4 defender, capable of playing in all situations if he can reach his ceiling.  There will be some challenges though, such as improving that skating stride. His game is reminiscent of Dan Hamhuis of the Vancouver Canucks, though this is a stylistic comparison, and not one based on talent.

Below are some highlight videos of Nicolas Meloche in action.

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