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At just 5-foot 10-inches tall and 165 pounds, Samuel Girard is an undersized defenceman who has attracted the attention of NHL scouts this spring despite the fact he has a serious lack of size. He put up 10 goals and 74 points in just 67 games this season. He helped the Cataractes advance all the way to the QMJHL Finals, putting up 22 points in 21 games along the way. The marks were enough to give him a number of awards, including the Emile Bouchard Trophy for QMJHL Defenceman of the Year, the Frank J. Selke Trophy for Most Sportsmanlike Player, and a spot on the QMJHL first all-star team.
Girard has international experience, playing for Team Canada Black at the 2015 Under 17 World Hockey Challenge, winning gold with Team Canada at the 2015 Ivan Hlinka tournament, and playing for Team QMJHL in the Canada/Russia Super Series. He also appeared for Team Cherry at the 2016 BMO Top Prospects Game.
Samuel Girard Scouting Report: 2016 NHL Draft #47
Defense — shoots Left
Born May 12 1998 — Roberval, Quebec
Height 5’10” — Weight 165 lbs [178 cm / 75 kg]
Samuel Girard is a tremendous skater, and great puck moving defenceman. He has outstanding speed and acceleration in both directions. His edgework and agility is very good and allowing him to make quick cuts and changes in direction. He also has outstanding pivots and can transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. He could stand to add some lower body strength to increase his balance and help him to be stronger on the puck.
Girard pairs his great skating with the the hands to make plays with the puck at top speed. He has the ability carry the puck out of his own zone and to create offence by leading the rush. His quick hands and slick skating allow Girard to avoid fore checkers and get the puck up the ice quickly. He also makes a good first pass, and can hit the long pass to spring a streaking forward for a breakaway.
Girard quarterbacks the Shawinigan power play and does so very effectively. He is an excellent passer from the point, putting the puck through tight spaces and making tape to tape passes to forwards. His ability to get the puck through traffic is surgical. Girard’s puck poise and agility gives him the ability to walk the line to open up passing and shooting lanes. He needs some work on his slap shot, as it lacks power. However he does have a decent wrist shot with an excellent release. Girard’s shots are very accurate though. It may just be another area where added upper body strength can help him to develop that shot. He’s dangerous nearly every shift, and a tremendous offensive catalyst for the Cataractes.
Girard’s size can be an issue on defence as he can have trouble clearing the crease, or battling bigger forwards. Containment of the cycle can also be a problem, especially when he moves to the next level and faces even bigger opposition. He has developed a quick pokecheck and good active stick which may help Girard avoid too many issues. However there continue to be some pretty big question marks here. There is no doubt that he will need to add strength in order to succeed at the next level.
Style Comparison and Potential
Girard could be the most offensively talented defenceman in the draft. However, his lack of size and the issues that could cause him defensively make him a real boom or bust type of prospect. The value of a third pairing defender who needs to be sheltered, but is a power play specialist just isn’t that great. However, if he can continue to develop his defensive game, and drive puck possession by getting the puck out of his own end quickly, he could become a very valuable asset. Girard plays the game similarly to Sami Vatanen of the Anaheim Ducks, another offensive catalyst whose size was a detriment. This is a style comparison only though, and not one based on talent level or potential.
The following is a compilation of Samuel Girard highlights, taken from youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the #48 prospect on our NHL Draft Board.