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 2020 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 look at Theo Rochette.
Born in Quebec, Rochette also holds Swiss citizenship and spent five seasons playing overseas. The 7th overall pick in the 2018 QMJHL Draft, Rochette made a strong return to Canada, putting up 14 goals and 43 points in 59 games as a rookie for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. He added four goals and five points in four playoff games. This season, Rochette put up four goals and 12 assists for 16 points in 19 games before being traded to Quebec. After joining the Remparts, he scored 10 goals and 13 assists for 23 points in 30 games.
Rochette played for both Switzerland and Canada in international tournaments. As none of these tournaments are official IIHF events, he still can choose which country he will represent long term. In the 2018 Hlinka-Gretzky Cup, playing for Switzerland, he picked up two assists in four games. He played for Team Canada White at the 2018 Under-17 WHC, scoring two goals and seven points in five games. Last summer, Rochette played for Canada at the Hlinka-Gretzky. While he didn’t record any points in the tournament, he was part of the silver medal-winning team. Rochette’s father was a referee in the NLA (Swiss League) before becoming an assistant coach.
Theo Rochette Scouting Report
Centre — shoots Left
Born February 20th, 2002 — Donnaconna, Quebec
Height 5’10” — Weight 161 lbs [178 cm/73 kg]
Rochette is a good skater. He has an explosive first step and very good acceleration. His top-end speed is good, but not great. However, his ability to quickly change speeds, or to turn on another gear can help him get by defencemen on the rush. He also has excellent edgework and agility. Rochette can change direction on a dime. His turns are smooth and he gains power and speed through them. Rochette can stand to add more lower-body strength though. This will improve his strength and balance. It will help him to battle along the boards as well as to fight through checks in open-ice.
Rochette combines his skating with good hands in order to be able to lead the rush. With good agility and the ability to stickhandle while moving at high speed, he is very good at gaining the zone with possession. He keeps his head up and has good vision, seeing the whole ice and making cross-ice passes to teammates. With his strong passing skills, he can put the puck through tight areas, or make a saucer pass to a teammate to set up a scoring chance. Rochette reads the play well and often takes the smart option. Once he gives up the puck, he keeps his feet moving to take the return pass.
Rochette can also use his hands to score in tight to the net. He is able to deke goalies and can elevate quickly on his forehand or his backhand. However, he is not really known as a goal scorer. His wrist shot is accurate, but he could use a quicker release and more power. He may be able to add more power to his shot if he can gain muscle mass. This will also help him to win battles on the boards and in front of the net. He is lanky right now and there is room to add upper body strength.
Rochette is a very good defensive player. He often stays as the third man high in the offensive zone, helping him to get back quickly and preventing being caught up the ice. He takes smart angles and brings effective backpressure to defending against the transition. Rochette reads the play well and puts himself in positions to break up plays and create turnovers. His stick is quick and can cut down passing lanes or take the puck away from an opponent. He is willing to support the defence down low against the cycle game but will need to get stronger to maximize his effectiveness in this area. Rochette is also strong in the faceoff circle.
Projection and Comparison
Rochette plays a very fundamentally sound game. With some improvements in his strength, he should be a solid prospect. If he develops well, Rochette could become a middle-six centre, capable of killing penalties and playing against an opponent’s top line. He shows a commitment to doing the little things right and does not make a lot of mistakes. The question is how well his offensive game will translate at the next level. Rochette’s game is reminiscent of Philip Danault. However, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and potential.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Theo Rochette that are available on youtube and twitter.
Théo Rochette is one of the few players to score goals for two nations in international play. He just got his first for Canada after playing for Switzerland earlier this year. #WorldU17 pic.twitter.com/SYCMd69B4a
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisNHL) November 4, 2018
— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) February 19, 2020
— Hockey Guy (@FlyingSkate94) August 7, 2018
Theo Rochette is already making a good impression in Quebec. Grabs the loose puck, good speed and quality handy work in the neutral zone to create space for himself. @FCHockey #2020NHLDraft pic.twitter.com/5cTrS6nhHC
— Josh Tessler (@JoshTessler_) January 10, 2020
Theo Rochette found Connor McClennon sneaking towards the net and McClennon makes it 3-1 before the end of the first period. Those two have been great. Perfetti had a great shift, too. #WorldU17 pic.twitter.com/XxQDc3Bd3i
— Steven Ellis (@StevenEllisNHL) November 6, 2018
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Theo Rochette Main Photo:
BOISBRIAND, QC – SEPTEMBER 28: Theo Rochette #19 of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens skates against the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada during the QMJHL game at Centre d’Excellence Sports Rousseau on September 28, 2018 in Boisbriand, Quebec, Canada. The Chicoutimi Sagueneens defeated the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada 4-1. (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)