Mavrick Bourque – C
Bourque is a favourite prospect of mine because he is simply a warrior on the ice and the heart of the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL. He has been everywhere for them on the ice, from an offensive and defensive aspect, while providing excellent leadership and exceptional offensive chance generation.
Bourque is the type of player that you can slot anywhere in a lineup, be it at centre or right-wing. Possessing the always coveted right-handed shot makes him a huge plus for any coaching staff, and boy can he get shots off rather quickly on the right side. His shot is incredibly underrated, especially while he skates at full speed and could be a very useful weapon on any power play.
His best attributes remains his speed and his Hockey IQ. Rarely do I see a player of his ilk produce at such a high level, despite flip-flopping positions so many times in a season (sharing centre duties with 2020 draft eligible Vasily Ponomarev). He is also able to get to his full speed in just 2-3 steps, while not being fully developed physically (a very promising sign for the future). I think Bourque has significant untapped goal-scoring potential, and given his experience at C, he could be a high value pick at 16th overall.
Braden Schneider – RD
Braden Schneider plays a very old-school, hard-hitting game reminiscent of past Western Canadian defensemen. Although he is a strong and rugged defenseman, Schneider has a very strong first few stride and excellent edge-work when it comes to his skating. The mobile-rearguard is able to use his speed and his strong acceleration to exit the zone and command centre-ice in order to create the easy zone entry. His skating and speed see him jump into the rush very often, usually as the 4th man, allowing Schneider to unleash his bomb of a shot from the point for a high-quality scoring chance.
As mentioned, Schneider hits extremely hard and plays a very aggressive game in the defensive zone. He uses his great positional awareness to push his opponents to the outside of the offensive zone, before absolutely crushing them along the boards. The young D-man is also incredibly effective at moving the puck, especially out of the defensive zone, as he is able to make crisp outlet passes for zone-exits in all situations. Schneider has been called out for his decision-making under pressure, but, when Schneider keeps his game simple, he is very effective under pressure. He usually gets caught when he tries to do to much, as is the case with many young defensemen.
As the Habs already have a similar type of player in Cale Fleury, and given the lack of bonafide top-4 D, especially tight defensemen, in this draft, I fully expect Schneider to be gone by pick 16th. That being said, he is a very safe bet to make it to the NHL and could even make the jump as early as the 2021-2022 season.