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A second round pick of the Moncton Wildcats (26th overall) in the 2012 QMJHL draft, Gabriel Gagne was traded to Victoriaville at the 2013 QMJHL Trade Deadline as part of a deal that saw Philip Danault go to Moncton. However, he would only play one game in the QMJHL during the 2012-13 season. Last year, he started to get some playing time, putting up 16 goals as QMJHL rookie. However he really exploded onto the scene in his draft year, getting big icetime on a rebuilding Victoriaville club and more than doubling his goal output to 35 in 67 games. He added two goals in four playoff games as the Tigres were swept aside in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs. Overall though it was a solid year for Gagne who made great strides forward in his development, and put himself on the radar for the 2015 NHL Draft. A late 1996 birthdate, the team that drafts Gagne could promote him to the AHL as early as the start of the 2016-17 season.
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born Nov 11 1996 — Ste. Adele, PQ
Height 6.05 — Weight 190 [196 cm/86 kg]
They say that you can not teach size, and at 6’5″, Gabriel Gagne certainly provides that. At just 190 pounds though, he certainly has room to fill out that frame, and because of that he becomes an interesting project going forward. Gagne has shown a willingness to use his frame at the QMJHL level, getting in quickly on the forecheck and throwing hits, and in establishing position in front of the net. He digs for pucks in the corners, but a lack of lower body strength and balance has been an issue, with him being knocked over and losing battles to smaller defenders. Adding muscle and strength in his legs and core would go a long way to alleviating any concerns her though. Gagne has a very good wrist shot, and a quick release. This gives him the ability to score from further out from the net, and not just rely on scoring goals in tight. While more of a scorer than a playmaker, he has shown an ability to set up teammates from time-to-time. He could stand to work on his stickhandling ability though, as its decent but could continue to improve.
Gabriel Gagne is a very good skater for his size. He has decent speed, but it is his first step quickness and his acceleration that are really surprising. He can change gears quickly and beat defenders off the rush. Gagne also has decent agility for a big man, showing the ability to make quick cuts and change directions. He does need to really work on that lower body strength though. He is knocked off the puck too easily given his size. Improved balance would help him to dominate in the cycle game and in battles for loose pucks along the boards. It could also make him a dominant player in front of the net.
When he is on his game Gabriel Gagne is a good backchecker, who supports his defence down low, keeps his feet moving and is involved in battles along the boards. He has certainly shown the potential to be a two-way player. However, the issue here is that he is not always consistent in his defensive work ethic from game to game. If he can learn to develop that aspect of his game as he matures, he will be a coach’s favorite as his size could really help him dominate in the defensive end.
Gagne has the potential to be a top six forward in the NHL. However, this is far from assured, and there are a few aspects of his game including strength, balance, and consistency that need to be developped. He certainly has potential though and could be a good gamble in the late second or early third round of the NHL Draft. His style can be compared to Brian Boyle, but this is a style comparison, and not one based on talent level.
Here are some videos of Gagne in action.
Check back tomorrow for the #72 prospect on our draft board.