Photo Credit: Cataractes de Shawinigan / Olivier Croteau
Mavrik Bourque is 2020 NHL Draft prospect, who hails from Plessisville, Quebec (in between Drummondville, Quebec and Quebec City, Quebec). The former third overall pick in the 2018 QMJHL draft played bantam hockey for Bois-Francs Cascades Bantam AAA (QBAAA) and midget hockey for Marie-Rivier Canimex Espoir (QMEAA) and Trois-Rivières Estacades (QMAAA). Throughout his time playing Bantam and Midget hockey he played alongside several 2020 and 2021 NHL Draft Eligible prospects including Tristan Roy (’21), Jérémy Lapointe (’20), Miguël Tourigny (’20), Olivier Adam (’20) and Loris Rafanomezantsoa (’20). In addition, his 17 year old brother, Wylen Bourque has been playing midget hockey for V. Boutin PPD & AWAK MAA of the QMAA.
In 2018-19, he made his debut for the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL. In 64 games played, he tallied 25 goals and 29 assists. He also played in six playoff games, in which he recorded two goals and three assists.
This past season, Bourque tallied 29 goals and 42 assists in 49 games played. Per EliteProspects, he had the second highest points per game (1.45 points per game) for first year draft eligible prospects in the QMJHL. Alexis Lafrenière of the Rimouski Océanic was the leader in points per game.
Unfortunately, his season was shortened due to injury and COVID-19. In the below tweet from Steve Turcotte of Nouvelliste, he mentioned on February 10th that Bourque’s injury meant that he was not available to Shawinigan from February 8th till the last game played (March 8th).
D.O.B – January 8, 2002
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2020
Weight –165 lbs
Position – Center
Handedness – Right
Bourque’s Style Of Play
In early July, Mitch Brown of EliteProspects broke down Mavrik Bourque’s style of play in his post, How Mavrik Bourque’s Gravitational Pull Makes him one of the 2020 NHL Draft’s Best Playmakers and talked about how Bourque manages to garner attention from his opponents. In his report, Brown stated, “While terminology ranges, the critical feature of gravity is intentional manipulation. These players understand how defenders react to their maneuvers — they weaponize their gravity. They use physicality through body positioning, and deception through fakes, look offs and more to draw in defenders. When a teammate gets open, they have the skill to feather a pass through the tiniest of openings with multiple defenders trying to stop them.”
When you watch the Cataractes, you will notice quickly how Bourque sees the game. He is fully aware of what positioning is needed to pull defenders to him. Not only does he lure defenders to him, but he knows exactly what to do to dodge them and quickly finds the smallest open lanes to pass through. Bourque is capable of identifying the attacker at the blue line and altering course. Instead of attempting to move away from the attacker, he plays the attacker. He will secure control of the puck and glide up the neutral zone and into the offensive zone while just using his non-dominant hand. Once he Bourque completes a controlled zone entry, he somehow finds the smallest lane possible to rope a quick pass.
While you could make the argument that it is far more effective for Bourque to initially utilize his outside edges to navigate around traffic instead of pulling attackers towards him, I would argue that does not make sense given the nature of his playing style. With Bourque thriving when he has pressure on him, he manages to neutralize attackers in transition which allows for more goal scoring possibilities in the offensive zone. If you can slow down your attacker while you are still going at the same pace, you open up more wide open lanes in the offensive zone.
From a skating perspective, Bourque has a quality stride. In the defensive zone, he utilizes his right skate crossover to accelerate. His first extension is with his right skate and the recovery is good. His extension is solid as his skates are not too far apart. The only hiccup is at center ice. Once Bourque gets slightly past center ice, his extension becomes much shorter. Bourque cuts down on his speed and ends up gliding. When Bourque is gliding, his skates are quite far apart. If Bourque were to give up the puck mid-glide, his mobility would not be strong enough for him to chase after the puck and put enough pressure on his attacker.
In the defensive zone, Bourque plays a very laid-back style of defense. Given the line formations that Shawinigan often deployed, they were able to use Vasili Ponomaryov (’20)’s physical edge to counteract Bourque’s less assertive defensive strategies. The main challenge for Bourque is something that we discussed earlier. Mobility. In the defensive zone, you need to have strong mobility when puck tracking. Given Bourque’s wide glide, there are moments where he loses track of the puck and moments where he is a bit slow to the puck.
Aside from his mobility in the defensive zone, Bourque’s defensive zone positioning is exactly where you would expect him to be. He typically plays a centered perimeter role, but will drop back to the red line when needed. By nature, he will often go to the mid-slot and play prevent defense. With Bourque’s positioning, he is not in your face, but he shuts down your open lane and causes interceptions.
In the offensive zone, Bourque is a gifted passer. There are quite a few strong passing forwards in the 2020 NHL Draft class. Quinton Byfield, Thomas Bordeleau, Seth Jarvis and Zion Nybeck all have exceptional hands and produce crafty passes. When it comes to Bourque, his hands allow to him to manufacture effortless passes. While some forwards have difficulty delivering a light release accurate long range pass, Bourque can fire at will and he will find the smallest gaps to pass through. There have been instances where Bourque will fire a cross ice backhand pass through that gap. Usually, a cross ice backhand pass is difficult to pull off especially when there is not a huge lane to pass the puck through, but Bourque makes it happen.
While Bourque can deliver long range backhand passes, he is also quite strong at backhand passes mid-cycle. As we talked about earlier, Bourque thrives under pressure. With his back turned, he draws attention which helps create holes and open lanes. Once Bourque finds the optimal teammate, he delivers a light backhand pass to move the puck from the half-wall to the slot.
Let’s now look at Bourque’s shot. He loves and I mean loves to fire one-timer slap shots to the net. Bourque will extend and bend his leg in to help muster up power (similar to how Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins and Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals fire one-timer shots). His range is pretty decent when it comes to his one-timer. Like in the case of this goal, he is closer to the edge of the perimeter and still lands a quality shot with good power.
We’ve also seen beautiful highlight reel goals where he completes a tight 360 degree spin around his opponent and delivers a quality snap shot goal. Just like his one-timers, Bourque likes to be as low to the ground as possible when it comes to his snap shot. He wants to deliver a booming shot and one that the goaltender’s reflexes won’t be able to catch.
Last but not least, let’s look at Bourque’s forechecking. Similar to his work in the defensive zone, Bourque is not the most aggressive forward on the ice. Yet, his puck tracking in the offensive zone is flawless. Unlike Ponomaryov, he won’t deliver a full-force check into the boards. Instead, he plays the puck and looks for the best opportunity to deliver a quality poke-check. The only concern with his forechecking is his mobility (same issue in the defensive zone) when he is gliding, but I’m confident that his wide glide will be addressed.
All-in-all, Bourque is quality playmaker, who thrives under pressure and finds the smallest gaps in the offensive zone to distribute the puck through. But, he is not just an excellent passer as he has a booming shot too.
Tomáš Hertl, Center, San Jose Sharks
Like Bourque, Hertl will occasionally have a wide glide, but makes up for it with quality transition work with pressure on him. He finds small tight gaps to pass through and has an excellent shot.
stats from InStat Hockey and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Josh Tessler. If you would like to follow Josh on Twitter, his handle is @JoshTessler_.
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