Photo Credit – Daniel St. Louis
Zachary L’Heureux is a 2021 NHL Draft eligible prospect, who hails from Mercier, Quebec (a stone’s throw from the Honoré Mercier Bridge, which connects Châteauguay/Mercier with Lasalle). L’Heureux played midget and bantam hockey for Lac St-Louis Grenadiers and the Châteauguay Grenadiers.
L’Heureux was initially drafted by the Moncton Wildcats in the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft at pick #3. His 2019-2020 season was his QMJHL rookie season and he lead the league in rookie scoring with 53 points (20 goals and 33 assists). At the 2019-2020 QMJHL Trade Deadline, the Halifax Mooseheads and the Moncton Wildcats struck a deal in which Benoit-Olivier Groulx (Anaheim Ducks prospect) and Jared McIssac (Detroit Red Wings prospect) joined Moncton. But, the deal was not completely finalized until after the QMJHL season when Elliot Desnoyers (Philadelphia Flyers prospect) and L’Heureux was dealt to Halifax.
So far this season, L’Heureux has tallied six goals and six assists in 11 games played. He has been featured on the top line for the Mooseheads and typically plays alongside Robert Orr (2021 NHL Draft prospect, no relation to Boston Bruins great Bobby Orr) and Desnoyers.
Recently, he was given a four game suspension after engaging in a fight after a blind side hit. The suspension was likely longer than usual because the play had been blown dead and the referee had already raised his arm to indicate that there was a penalty on the play.
D.O.B – May 15, 2003
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –196 lbs
Position – Left Wing
Handedness – Left
L’Heureux’s Style Of Play
To kick things off, I wanted to first take a look at some statistics. In the first chart, you will see a list of QMJHLers and their goals per 60, primary assists per 60 and scoring chances per 60. The data includes all 2020-2021 regular season games and pre-season games. In addition, there are other QMJHLers that we could add like Zachary Bolduc from the Rimouski Oceanic, but the sample size for Bolduc is not big enough. The issue is that many QMJHL clubs had to shut down and postpone games due to COVID-19, so there are more QMJHL talent that we could not compare L’Heureux’s data to at this time. But, with that being said, the chart indicates that L’Heureux has the highest goals per 60 and the highest scoring chances per 60 of the draft eligibles on this list. But, his primary assists per 60 is on the lower end of the scale.
In the second chart, you will find a comparison chart. The chart is comparing Alexis Lafreniére (New York Rangers prospect)’s first 11 regular season games in his draft year to L’Heureux’s first 11 games in his draft year. Since L’Heureux is the premier QMJHL draft eligible forward for the 2021 NHL Draft, we wanted to show you a data comparison. L’Heureux has been less effective in his first 11 regular season games, but he is registering a higher scoring chances per 60 (at even strength as well).
But, let’s move away from the statistics and hone in on his playing style. What I love about L’Heureux is his transitional play. In the neutral zone, L’Heureux is constantly finding open lanes and gaps that he can exploit. He will find open lanes to provide his teammates with a low trafficked avenue to pass the puck through. Given how dangerous L’Heureux is at driving to the net and pilling up high danger scoring chances, his transitional play allows him to start his magic from the blueline.
From a defensive and forechecking perspective, L’Heureux’s game has evolved quite a bit from his midget and bantam days. Back then, L’Heureux’s primary position was center and he tended to be a bit more aggressive with his defensive and forechecking. In fact, he was still pretty aggressive with his play last year in Moncton even though he was on the wing at the time. While his play has relaxed slightly, he is still a robust defender, who opts to play zone defense. Like most wingers, his zone is from the blueline to the perimeter. When he is in his zone, he will still show aggression even though it is less than what it was previously. With that being said, L’Heureux will deliver open ice hits in an effort to silence the cycle and regain possession of the puck. Below, you will find an example of L’Heureux’s willingness to get gritty and deliver open ice hits to shut down the rush.
When it comes to his hands, L’Heureux is an efficient stickhandler, especially when he is driving to the net. Sometimes, his stickhandling might seem a bit slow and sluggish, but keep in mind that L’Heureux logs quite a bit of time on ice and his shifts can be quite long especially on the powerplay. In the below clip, you will see an instance where he L’Heureux had a long shift and still stickhandled efficiently when driving to the net. Due to the length of the shift, his glide was a bit wide but that is to be expected when you are on the ice for 80 seconds (as François Brosseau pointed out in his tweet). Even though L’Heureux was tired, he still drove hard to the net and managed to navigate around the Moncton attack.
In the offensive zone, L’Heureux thrives in the low slot/doorstep. Most of his primary assists and goals come down low. When you sift through quite a bit of his primary assists, you will notice that quite a few of them are a result of rebound shots. L’Heureux is deceptive. He knows exactly how to generate a quality rebound chances when his teammates have stormed the crease.
While he generates quite a bit of primary assists in the slot, I have noticed that when he is further out and past the perimeter that he struggles with long range passing. Instead of delivering a crisp tape-to-tape feed, his passes tend to be placed a bit further up. It appears that his Halifax teammates are well-aware of his passing struggles, so they will often assume where the puck is headed and quickly skate up to that spot to ensure that the pass is completed.
The only other attribute that needs further development is his puck control. In some instances, L’Heureux struggles with puck possession when facing quite a bit of pressure. In addition, I would like to see L’Heureux use his stickhandling more often when facing traffic. When L’Heureux is facing pressure on the half-wall and in the corners, he doesn’t use his stickhandling like he does when he drives to the net. I would like to see L’Heureux pivot and puck-handle away from the attack.
While L’Heureux has some attributes that needs to be ironed out, I want to talk about how lethal his wrist shot is. He has solid range with his wrist shot and will use it quite a bit in the mid to high slot. The Montreal-based prospect can go top shelf with his wrist shot and the accuracy is quite strong. With his open stick blade, L’Heureux has more control of where the puck goes and constantly uses it to his advantage to get the puck over the net-minder’s glove.
Last, but not least, let’s address L’Heureux’s skating. His stride extension is not too long and the recovery is not too wide. But, as we saw earlier, when L’Heureux is tired due to a longer shift, his glide becomes a bit wider. A wider glide can hurt your mobility, but we did not see any mobility issues in that particular shift because the penalty kill unit was also on the ice for a long period of time. In terms of L’Heureux’s speed, he can generate decent speed in transition. With his ability to pick up speed, he becomes a threat when driving from the blueline to the net. Also, his edge work allows him to shift at a moment’s notice away from an attacker when driving to the net. To be blunt, I do not see any concerns with his skating.
Jakub Voracek, Right Wing, Philadelphia Flyers
L’Heureux’s ability to fire quality wrist shots in the slot and generate quite a few high danger scoring chances reminds me of former Halifax Mooseheads winger Jakub Voracek. Voracek like L’Heureux does his dirty work down low and is highly efficient at driving towards the net.
stats from InStat 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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