10) Samuel Girard (LD)
Birthday: May 12, 1998 (Age 18)
Weight: 162 lbs.
NHL Draft: 2016 2nd Round, 47th Overall
Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL): 67 GP, 10 G, 64 A, 74 P, 10 PIM, + 24
The accolades flew in for Samuel Girard in his draft year as he was named the QMJHL defenseman of the year, the CHL sportsman of the year, and a QMJHL First Team All-Star. Furthermore, Girard was the top point-getting defenseman in the CHL (comprised of the WHL, OHL, and QMJHL) a league that contains players up to two years his senior. Needless to say, when the Predators picked that caliber of player 47th overall in the 2016 draft they were very happy.
A good candidate to make Canada’s World Junior Championship roster in the winter, Girard’s high-end speed and smarts lends greatly towards his fantastic puck-moving ability. Though he does not have a notably good shot, Girard is a very effective power play quarterback who can distribute very well and find sticks out in front of the net. If he can make it to the NHL, that offense and puck-moving ability will be his two calling cards.
The biggest issues with Girard’s game right now are his defensive play and his size. In watching Girard, he can some times get lost in his own zone and get caught out of position. At 5-foot-9, size is going to be an obvious hurdle the highly potent defenseman will have to overcome but he also has nice stick detail and knows he can’t play a physical game against bigger players. So, Girard is, at the very least, on the right track.
Recently, the Nashville Predators have been very effective in developing offensive puck-moving defenseman into very solid two-way defenseman capable of playing in all situations. Ryan Ellis and Matthias Ekholm are two great examples. If Girard can follow in those two players’ footsteps he could eventually become a top-four defenseman in the NHL. Right now, though, he just needs to focus on showing continual improvement with the Shawinigan Cataractes.
Girard will likely spend two more seasons in the QMJHL (he isn’t eligible for AHL play until 2018-2019) and then make the jump to the AHL.
2015-2016 Grade: A+
NHL Projection: Second Pairing Defenseman
Projected NHL Arrival: Not Reasonable to Project
All stats via Elite Prospects.com.