As the draft approaches, TWC has been profiling draft eligible players that are projected to go in the first round, and might be possibilities for the Flames to select at #12. Next up is Xavier Bourgault, ranked 21st in TWC’s consolidated draft rankings. He is a right-shot center/right winger out of the Shawinigan Cataractes in the QMJHL.
Who is Xavier Bourgault?
Bourgault was born on October 22, 2002, in L’Islet, Quebec. He’s one of the older players in the draft class and missed the cutoff for last year’s draft by only a few days, but as a QMJHL player, he has the benefit of playing almost a full season in 2021. He stands at an even 6’0″ and weighs in at 172 pounds. He’s not a huge player, but size isn’t an issue with Bourgault.
Playing exclusively in Quebec his entire junior career thus far, Bourgault has played three (almost) full seasons in the Q and has logged 154 games. He’s listed as a right wing and a center on different websites, but as far as I can tell, he spent most of his time on right wing alongside 2020 first-rounder Mavrik Bourque.
Xavier Bourgault’s on-ice production
Here’s an overview of his stats over the past three seasons.
Bourgault has steadily improved in each of his junior seasons. As a 16-year-old, he put up an okay 20 points in 62 games, but exploded in his 17-year-old season with 71 points in 63 games, including 33 goals. Despite the shortened 2021 season, he was on pace for 87 points in 63 games, which would have been a top-10 finish in 2019, for reference. It was a turbulent year for Bourgault as he was only able to skate in 29 of Shawiningan’s 43 games, but he was very productive.
His 1.38 points per game was 13th in the entire QMJHL and first among draft eligible players. Bourgault had an incredible season on the ice and his production soared despite the unconventional nature of the season. As the most productive QMJHL player in the draft, there is a chance a team falls in love with him and drafts him early.
Xavier Bourgault’s Strengths
Wherever you look, the areas that Bourgault excels in consistently come up: shooting, vision, and playmaking.
Bourgault’s shot is strong and developed which makes him a threat in all areas of the ice. He can score from long range and is absolutely lethal when close to the net. He’s able to elevate the puck incredibly well even in tight, and with a smooth, quick release, his shot always warrants respect from defenders.
If you look at highlight packs from Shawinigan the past couple years, Bourgault can be seen ripping one timers and picking corners. He tends to favour shooting on the blocker side—but not so much so that goalies can cheat left—and he can bury it glove side with ease as well.
There are an abundance of clips just like this where Bourgault snipes shots into the top corners of the net and it’s just great to watch.
What makes Bourgault really interesting is how well he reads the game. His vision is high end and he draws a lot of parallels to linemate Bourque with his ability to find passing lanes in the neutral and offensive zones, which makes him very effective on the power play. He just makes smart plays and finds the right areas on the ice. That can’t be taught and translates to all leagues.
Bourgault is excellent at reading the defenders he’s playing against, and adjusting his offensive attack accordingly. He doesn’t force plays into a wall of sticks, and instead drops the puck back or swiftly sends it over to a teammate in a better position to make a play. He’s great on the cycle and has the ability to set up his teammates from all over the offensive zone—it makes a lot of sense that his closest comparable in the Q in Bourque.
Xavier Bourgault’s areas of improvements
The first thing that scouts note as an area of improvement for Bourgault is his skating. It’s unfortunate that this has come up as a weakness with yet another righthanded draftee. Bourgault’s strides are wide to begin with which hinders his ability to hit a high-end top speed, but this also limits his turning and edgework which causes him to fall a lot when he’s trying to make quick lateral moves to get around defenders. He definitely needs to work on this in the coming years as the techniques he uses now to squeeze past defenders won’t work in the NHL.
The other important knock on his game is his play without the puck. Defensively, as with many QMJHL prospects, Bourgault is not very good. His play in his own zone has been described as “complementary” and “supervisory”, which isn’t great to hear when you’re looking at a first-round pick.
Fit with the Flames
Based on his projections and weaknesses, it would be a reach for the Flames to select Bourgault at 12th overall. However, if they decide to trade down, especially into the 20s of the first round, Bourgault could be a smart option for them. He’s a good sized right shooting winger with the ability to place center and great instincts. The Flames have dipped into the QMJHL well lately with players like Jakob Pelletier, Ryan Francis, and Jeremie Poirier in recent drafts, and adding probably the best offensive Q player in the draft wouldn’t be a bad thing at all.
Bourgault does fit an organizational need. With the weirdest draft in history, maybe he even falls to the second round and the Flames select him there. He’s a good player with first-round talent, and if the Flames do select him it wouldn’t even be close to a bad pick.
His play style has been compared to a variety of players including Brad Marchand, Blake Coleman, Brendan Gallagher, and Cam Atkinson.
Bourgault is a 6’0″, 172 pound right winger out of Shawinigan of the QMJHL. He’s the most productive draft-eligible player from the league and saw his production climb even with a turbulent pandemic season. His strengths are his shot, playmaking, and vision, but he does need to work on his skating and defensive play. He’s likely a player that will go later in the first round, but could be a fit with the Flames.
Projection: Top-six winger
Previously: William Eklund, Dylan Guenther, Cole Sillinger, Jesper Wallstedt, Kent Johnson, Simon Robertsson, Fabian Lysell, Aatu Räty, Carson Lambos, Simon Edvinsson, Chaz Lucius, Mason McTavish, Brennan Othmann, Corson Ceulemans, Francesco Pinelli, Oskar Olausson
Featured image created with Venngage.