Scoring has been a chronic problem for the Canadiens for a generation. While this past postseason was far from disappointing, the Habs again struggled to score as they were shut out in two of their four losses against the Philadelphia Flyers. If the Canadiens opt to address their scoring woes with their first-round pick, Mavrik Bourque may be available and may be a viable option at pick number 16.
DOB: January 8, 2002
Weight: 165-178 (range)
CSB (North American): 22
Elite Prospects: 12
Hockey Prospect: 28
Future Considerations: 19
The Hockey News: 18
TSN (Button): 20
TSN (McKenzie): 26
The Athletic (Pronman): 18
Bourque is a creative centreman with material offensive upside. He has been described as a shifty, highly skilled player with elite speed and stickhandling skills. Depending on the scouting reports, he is regarded as either willing to play defence or is less than responsible on his side of centre. In fairness, he plays a lot of minutes on a very ordinary Shawinigan team that had a record of 14-49 in 2018-19 and 29-32 in 2019-20 before the QMJHL was shut down due to the pandemic. The high minutes Bourque has been forced to play may well have impacted his defensive play.
Bourque is undersized in comparison to similarly ranked centres and the questions about his defensive skills may mean that he is seen as a winger at the next level. He has, however, been compared by some pundits to centre Travis Konecny of the Philadelphia Flyers and Anthony Beauvillier of the New York Islanders who both struggled defensively in their draft year.
There are few questions about his offensive skills but he has been inconsistent or streaky over time, like many scorers. Bourque seemed to be coming into his own in early February, having a seven-point game. Unfortunately, he was injured shortly afterwards and had not returned from that injury at the time the QMJHL was shut down. Some scouts saw Bourque as starting to come into his own at that time and speculate that the injury, along with the league shut down, may have prevented him from moving up the draft board. Although his rankings suggest that he is a mid to late first-round pick, some scouts view him as a steal if he falls to late in the first round.
While Bourque may have a high ceiling, he is also undersized, somewhat inconsistent, and he would not be the first junior hockey star whose elite offensive skills did not translate well to the NHL level. He is the type of player that will either be part of a team’s top-six forward group or will be unlikely to find a place in the lineup, not unlike another fairly recent Habs first-round pick, Nikita Scherbak. Bourque is a high risk, high reward pick.
Bourque will almost certainly return to the QMJHL next season and, after 2020-21, will also likely require some time in the minors to refine his defensive skills and become a more consistent player. Time in the AHL will also help him refine his offensive skills against better competition and bigger players. Bourque is at least two or more years away from the NHL. He has more upside than many players who are ranked similarly but it will take time before he is NHL ready. If Bourque resolves the issues with his game and is able to overcome the challenges arising from his size, he may become a top-six NHL forward.