Welcome back to Top Shelf Prospects, the daily column that brings you the next crop of professional hockey players. Each day I will bring you a new player profile or topical article in the lead-up to the 2021 NHL Draft. Be sure to bookmark the site, follow me on Twitter, and spread the word for the site that will bring you analytical and critical profiles and scouting reports! Last Word On Hockey Prospects is your new headquarters for everything “NHL Draft”! We have a complete listing of our draft articles here. Today we bring you our Xavier Bourgault Scouting Report.
It was certainly an interesting year in the QMJHL, with the season starting in the fall, having a long hiatus, and returning this spring. Add in a few injuries and this lead to Shawinigan Cataractes winger Xavier Bourgault playing just 29 games. He made the most of the games and he did play and was productive with 20 goals and 20 assists for 40 points. Bourgault has also added four assists in five playoff games so far.
A second-round pick, 33rd overall in the 2018 QMJHL Draft, Bourgault had just seven goals and 13 assists for 20 points in 69 games as a rookie. He was also held to just one assist in six playoff games. Bourgault played for Team Canada White at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. He put up two assists in five tournament games. However, in his sophomore season, 2019-20, Bourgault emerged as a top player for the Cataractes. He put up 33 goals and 38 assists for 71 points in 63 games before the league shut down due to the global pandemic. Bourgault led the team in goals. He was tied with Dallas Stars 2020 first-round pick Mavrik Bourque for the Cataractes lead in points.
Xavier Bourgault Scouting Report
Right Wing — shoots Right
Born October 22nd, 2002 — L’Islet, Quebec
Height 6’0″ — Weight 172 lbs [183 cm / 78 kg]
Bourgault’s skating is hit and miss. His first few steps and acceleration are good. He also has good top-end speed when moving in a straight line. He wins races to loose pucks, gets in quick on the forecheck and moves well through the neutral zone. However, Bourgault needs to work on his edgework and agility. He loses speed when changing directions or moving laterally. He can stand to work on his footwork and his wide base. That wide base does give him some advantages though. Bourgault has a low centre of gravity. This helps him to win battles on the boards or in front of the net. It also helps Bourgault to fight through checks and drive the net.
Bourgault’s game is defined by his outstanding work ethic. He gets in on the forecheck, pressuring defenders and creating turnovers. He races to loose pucks and battles hard on the boards. Bourgault also gets to the front of the net, where he creates screens, pounces on rebounds, and gets deflections. He also has an excellent array of shots. Bourgault can quickly get off a one-timer, wrist shot or snap shot. His shots feature good power and excellent accuracy. He works to get to the dangerous areas of the ice before letting them go.
Bourgault is an outstanding playmaker. He is strong on the puck in the cycle game moving the puck with quick passes and then finding open ice for the give and go. Bourgault finds open space without the puck. He has excellent vision and anticipation, seeing what his teammates will do before they do it and getting them the puck for a scoring chance. Bourgault can put the puck through tight areas, making saucer passes over sticks, or using his hands to quickly move defenders and open up a passing lane. His stickhandling and vision are also useful in transition. Bourgault is effective at generating clean zone entries and setting up with possession in the opponent’s end.
Bourgault’s defensive game is a bit of a work in progress. His non-stop motor and willingness to engage physically are definite assets. However, he really needs to work on his discipline with his positioning. He can sometimes get over-aggressive, chasing the puck and leaving his man open to take a pass. Bourgault can also be a bit of a gambler, seeing a teammate battling for a puck, he can leave the zone early hoping his team will gain possession and hit him with a breakaway pass. When this works, it can create a breakaway. When it does not work, it creates a defensive zone breakdown.
Projection and Comparison
Bourgault can become a top-six winger in the NHL if he is able to reach his potential. He is a few years away though. Bourgault will likely head back to junior for his final season before moving to the AHL in 2022-23. He will need to continue to work on his skating and his defensive play to reach the next level. With his outstanding work ethic, he should be able to improve those areas with good coaching going forward. He will also need to continue to add muscle and fill out his frame to play the aggressive style he favours. Bourgault’s game is reminiscent of Brad Marchand without the pest-like qualities and antics. This is a stylistic comparison only though and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Xavier Bourgault that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for our next NHL Draft Article.
Xavier Bourgault Scouting Report Main Photo:
Xavier Bourgault Joins the Show!
We talk about his progression as a player, his time in the QMJHL for Shawinigan (@Cataractes_Shaw), and growing up as a hockey player in Quebec.
— Jack LeGwin (@jacklegwin) December 17, 2020