A defenceman is second on the list of prospects ahead of the 2014 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Draft. At a mere 5-foot-9 and 156 pounds, Samuel Girard isn’t the most physically imposing rearguard available, but his talent and wizardry in the offensive zone dwarfs his small stature.
“Samuel Girard is the offensive defenceman of the Quebec Midget AAA League. He has exceptional mobility and great hands,” lauds Patrick Legault, the QMHJL’s director of scouting. “His vision is also excellent, allowing him to quickly get the puck up to teammates and find the best passing options.”
There has been no shortage of praise being showered on the product of the Jonquiere Elites. While Girard likens himself to the offensively-gifted Brian Campbell of the Florida Panthers, one begins to understand why this young defenceman could have an impact on his new team similar to P.K. Subban’s with the Canadiens.
“He also has a knack for creating space on the ice,” explains Legault. “You sense how much he likes to pinch and chip in on offence and he’s a constant threat in the opposing zone. It’s pretty obvious that the offence of his next team will run through him. He may be small, but he is a real leader.”
The first overall pick?
The top-ranked prospect at this year’s draft, Pascal Laberge has already made it clear to the team holding the No. 1 pick, the Saint John Sea Dogs, that he would prefer to play in the province of Quebec rather in the Maritimes.
Many are wondering if the Sea Dogs might pull a shocker and reach out to fifth-ranked prospect Luke Green who is the top-ranked defenceman from the Maritimes. Regardless of that rumour, Girard is aware he might possibly be packing his bags for New Brunswick himself should he be chosen first.
“I’d honestly have no problem with that. I speak perfect English, but I’d see it as a chance to get even better,” said Girard who piled up 36 points in 42 games in his final season in AAA midget. “No matter what team picks me, all that really matters to me is to get a chance to play in the QMJHL next year.”
Girard’s team, the Jonquiere Elites didn’t have the type of season they were hoping for. Winning only one of their first nine games to start the season proved to be too big a hole for them to overcome in the end.
“I think we showed a lot of character by battling our way back, but we unfortunately lost our final game of the year and that cost us a playoff spot,” laments Girard.
Next up for Girard are a few weeks in the gym as he looks to add some mass to his frame ahead of his first QMJHL training camp.
“I’d like to improve my physical strength which will help me win more one-on-one battles,” says the 15-year-old native of Roberval, Quebec. “Before I would concentrate strictly on offence, but over time I’ve come to realize the importance of excelling at both ends of the ice. I’ve really improved my play in my own zone over the last few years.”
Super agent Pat Brisson
Girard is far from lacking in the support department, either. Not every player gets to count NHL agent Pat Brisson in their corner.
“When I got the call that his agency was interested in me, I jumped at the chance,” admits Girard, “It’s reassuring to be able to rely on an agency that counts so many pro players. I even got the chance to take part in a camp in Los Angeles with a few of their big clients.
“Daniel Briere was one of them and I learned a lot even over that short period of time just being around the pros,” explains Girard who is looking forward to attending more such camps this summer.
Girard’s next order of business is to officially become a member of the QMJHL, a league that has paved the way for hundreds of future NHLers over the years.
“I didn’t think much about the draft at the beginning of the season, but as it gets closer more people are talking about it,” says Girard. “The media has been calling for interviews and now it’s almost here. I’ll have a dozen or so family members there so it will certainly be a nice experience that I’m looking forward to.”