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NHL Draft Prospect Profile: Gabriel Gagné

Austin Manak Avatar
June 1, 2015

 

Get to know Gabriel Gagné

Date of Birth: 11/11/1996
Place of Birth: Laval, QC, CAN
Ht: 6’5″ Wt: 186 lbs
Shoots: Right
Position: Center/Right Wing
Team: Victoriaville Tigres

Some players wow you in spite of their physical gifts. Other players have the look, and tantalize scouts with an imposing, athletic frame, although they have some areas to clean up and improve before their game reaches the same height as their physical standing. Gabriel Gagné is the latter, coming it at nearly 6’5″ with good athleticism.

Central Scouting rates him as the 36th best skater in North America, although this is one of the higher ratings I’ve seen for him. Last season, Gagné put up 35 goals and 59 points over the course of 67 games with the Victoriaville Tigres in the QMJHL.

His knack for scoring goals, coupled with his size and decent skating ability are what will get him selected on draft day, although I view him as more of a mid-round selection, rather than the late-second or early-third round selection his CSS rating would suggest

Statistics

What Scouts See

Elite Prospects, Curtis Joe

A tall and lanky center with superb offensive instincts and a good all-around game. Skates very well for his size, and his acceleration is remarkable; his lower body strength generates a lot of power with respect to his mobility. Possesses an absolutely wicked release to his shot, as well as good hands around the net.

Has shown some signs of creativity in playmaking; when he plays his game simply, hard on the forecheck, getting into prime-time scoring areas, he can be a very difficult player to contain. Defensively active in his own end – uses his long reach to knock pucks off opponents’ sticks, and isn’t afraid to hound and hit; able to quickly transition from defense to offense and move the puck out using his speed. All-in-all, a big-bodied, number-generating forward that has the skill and size to be a force at both ends of the ice.

ISS Hockey

He’s a big winger that works hard and competes. Skating is fine for his size with decent speed. Seems to be able to handle the puck but a better shooter then play maker. With added strength and size has a chance to develop into a quality power forward.

What BSN Avalanche Sees

You certainly notice Gagné’s size right away, as he dwarfs many of the 17 and 18 year olds playing in the Q, although as a young lad himself, Gagné’s frame is extremely lanky. As a prospect, this makes him an interesting case, because the projection of what he could be is under an even bigger magnifying glass than usual.

His size is easily his biggest asset (no comment on pun intention or not). This is what is going to get an NHL team to fall in love with him on draft day. To acquire this size, a team is also going to take on a player with many weaknesses in my opinion.

First off, Gagné doesn’t always seem to play big. When you draft a six-foot-five power forward, you want him to be out there banging bodies and wreaking havoc, which doesn’t describe Gagné in my viewings of his tape. That said, the theme with this guy is projecting what he could be. At 186 pounds, he isn’t close to being filled out, and perhaps if he puts on another 20-25 pounds in the next few years, he will become a more consistently physical threat.

Another weakness is confidence with the puck through the neutral zone. As a big-winger, it isn’t imperative that he is an elite puck-handler, but too often I notice poor possession trends with Gagné. He often is unable to gain the offensive zone with possession if under even a little bit of pressure from the opposition. It’s either a turnover, or a dump deep, which isn’t always pursued with a heavy forecheck by Gagné.

In summation, I don’t view him as a possession driving winger at this point. He is prone to turnovers and plays soft too often for my liking. If I draft a big guy, I want him to be hard to take off the puck, and be relentless in getting it back. His hockey sense is also limited at this point in his development. These areas will need to improve for Gabriel.

On the plus side, Gagné has exceptional skating ability for a guy his size. His first step is quick and his long stride allows him to cover ground quickly. If he continues to improve this area, it will be a major weapon in his arsenal.

Gagné also is an excellent net-front presence. He loves to get to the top of the blue crease, screen the goalie, and look for rebound opportunities. His hands are quick, and he’s able to punch home a lot of scoring chances thanks to that attribute. When he does choose to play physical, it is a very effective style for him given his size.

Highlights

NHL Potential

Gagné has shown flashes of talent that could put him in the top-six of an NHL roster. Ultimately, I view him as a depth scorer and heavy forward with speed for a quality NHL side.

You will probably hear things like “you can’t teach size” when this kid gets drafted, and while true, I will offer up a “size doesn’t guarantee you anything” when it comes to playing hockey. Gagné is an intriguing prospect, but I honestly really didn’t fall in love with his game too much when I watched him. There are attributes I liked, but overall I think he has a long ways to go before he is a legitimate threat to play in the NHL.

Expected Draft Position

A second round selection is certainly possible for Gagné, because what’s not to like on paper? I think his sweet spot is probably the third round, but I myself would probably wait and see if he was around in the fourth or fifth round before selecting him. It’s tough to project where prospects like Gabriel Gagné will go in the draft, because it just takes one scouting staff to really like him for him to go off the board.

How Would Gabriel Gagné Fit in the Avalanche Organization?

I have no issue with Gagné’s potential fit with the Avalanche. A big winger who can score and skate, with NHL upside would be a welcome addition to the prospect pool.

I gave my personal opinion on Gagné, but I’m by no means an NHL scout, and also have limited time to actually view these prospects play. It’s possible my thoughts on him are wrong, and this guy will turn out being well-worth a second round pick.

If the Avalanche choose to call his name on draft day, they will fill an organizational need, and add some depth to the farm. Hopefully then, Gagné will prove a few of my doubts wrong, and become a force to be reckoned with in Colorado in a few years.

Check Out These Other Prospect Profiles

Lawson Crouse
Evgeny Svechnikov
Jordan Greenway
Adam Marsh

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