Photo Credit: Dominic Charette | Olympiques de Gatineau
Scouting Report written by Josh Tessler
Tristan Luneau is a 2022 NHL Draft eligible prospect and he plays for the QMJHL’s Gatineau Olympiques.
Luneau hails from Trois-Rivières, Quebec. For those unfamiliar with Quebec geography, Trois-Rivières is roughly the mid-point between Montréal and Québec City.
His father and brother both played junior hockey. Tristan’s father, Dominic played for Cowansville Patriotes (QJHL) in 1993-1994 and Tristan’s brother, Tommy Luneau played for the Princeville Titans (QJHL) and the Québec Remparts (QMJHL). Not only did Dominic play in the Québec junior ranks, but he also served as an assistant coach for several teams that Tristan and Tommy had played for including the Drummondville Jr. Voltigeurs (Tommy and Tristan played for Drummondville), Victoriaville Jr. Tigers (Tristan played for Victoriaville) and Bois-Francs Cascades Bantam AAA R (Tristan played for Bois-Francs).
Tristan had played bantam hockey for Bois-Francs and Mauricie Estacades Bantam AAA before moving to midget. He played two seasons of midget hockey for Trois-Rivières Estacades from 2018-2020. Following the conclusion of his final season with Trois-Rivières, he was selected number one overall in the 2020 QMJHL Entry Draft by Gatineau. He was also selected in the sixth round of the 2020 USHL Futures Draft by the Sioux Falls Stampede, but had decided against going the USHL route and preferred to play in the CHL. Initially he was set on going to play in the USHL and the NCAA. Per Todd Milweski of the Wisconsin State Journal in a June 2020 article, Luneau had orally committed to the University of Wisconsin, but roughly a year after his commitment, he decided that the QMJHL was the best path for his development.
Luneau made his QMJHL debut in 2020-2021. His debut season was shortened due to COVID-19, but he did make an impact and was fifth in total points for Gatineau.
This past season (2021-2022), he had the second highest point totals in the QMJHL for a 2022 NHL Draft eligible defenseman. He had 43 points in 63 games and was four points shy of tying Jérémy Langlois (Cape Breton) for total points by a draft year defenseman in the QMJHL.
D.O.B – Janruary 12, 2004
Nationality – Canada
Draft Eligibility – 2022
Weight –148 lbs
Position – Defense
Handedness – Right
Luneau’s Style Of Play
Tristan Luneau plays very much a conservative game throughout. In the offensive zone, he will pinch up for loose pucks, but doesn’t look to trap the puck and turn away from the attack. Instead, he pushes the puck back down along the boards to a teammate in the corner to keep the cycle alive. But, Luneau doesn’t pinch up into open ice past the perimeter that often from the point. If he pinches up, he typically plays the puck along the boards in low danger. Typically, he skates from the point to the corner and only if he can identify no one in the low slot will he carry the puck from the corner to the low slot to try his luck at net-front. When he does attack the low slot, he typically will struggle to manipulate the goaltender and net a gap to exploit.
Luneau does look to pinch up when he doesn’t have possession of the puck and will skate to medium danger to open up passing lanes to dangerous areas. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much success at 5v5 this year doing so, but I like that he is trying to tee up lanes down low for his teammates to use.
When passing in the offensive zone, usually Luneau will look to move the puck across the blue line to his defensive partner. But, his lateral passes have a lot of power behind them and it can make it a challenge for his defensive partner to grab a hold of the puck cleanly. While he will struggle with how much power he puts into his passes, he can generate quality cross ice feeds from the point to teammates in low danger in the face-off circle. Luneau will also use saucer passes to get the puck over traffic and to a teammate just slightly behind the attacker. He does a good job of using whatever space the attacker gives him and thus you will see Luneau utilize tight passing lanes to get the puck to an open teammate by the red line.
Given his conservative style of play, he doesn’t look to pass to high/medium danger areas from low danger very often. When Luneau passes the puck, he generally look to get the puck into the hands of a forward in low danger, who is closer to the corner. The idea is simple. Get the puck to that forward and either the forward walks the puck in or they feed a passing lane to high danger to use.
One of the areas that Luneau needs to work on is scanning. When Luneau carries the puck into the offensive zone, he walks into traps. He will have passing options to get out of the trap but Luneau plays a very conservative game and the passing options weren’t ones that a conservative puck carrier would take. So, when he walks into a trap, he just dumps the puck.
Before shooting the puck, Luneau typically likes to keep the attack on their toes by moving the puck gently from forehand to backhand and then on a dime cutting in towards the left. By keeping them on their toes, it gives Luneau the advantage as he will push the attacker to focus on one side and then Luneau peels out on the other side. It allows him to gain a bit of separation and then takes a shot from the perimeter.
When you look at his shot mechanics, he can be slightly inconsistent. Sometimes he will have good weight transfer on his shot and pushes his body weight towards his knees. But, sometimes, you don’t see him use the weight transfer to generate a lot of power. In addition, he needs to work on aligning his stick blade to the net. Occasionally, he will position the stick blade so it is aligned with the boards and not the net. When he positions the blade towards the boards, the shot goes to the boards and not to the net. Additionally, on some of his shots, he closes his stick blade instead of keeping it open and that impacts his ability to get height on his shot.
While Luneau can generate solid speed for himself, he will be a tad slow on defensive recoveries. When he is slow on recoveries / loose pucks, he will struggle to net enough separation for himself after gaining the puck to complete an outlet pass. So, that leads to a lot of pass attempts that just don’t connect as he has to make a very quick pass to avoid the attack laying down a hit on him to trap him.
Luneau needs to work on using his stick-handling to open up lanes for him to use when facing tight pressure off of a defensive recovery. That is one of the fundamentals that he seems to struggle with. While he does do a good job of using whatever space is given to him and will complete saucer passes over the attacker’s stick blade when he sees a teammate just beyond the attack, he struggles with open up quality passing lanes, so he has to resort to riskier passing options. But, given that Luneau is more conservative with the puck, he doesn’t often look to make the risky passes and that leads to him passing up the boards and hoping that he can get the puck to a forward close to blue line. Unfortunately, when passing up the boards, he has far less control of where the puck will eventually end up and you will see a decent amount of his outlet passes fail to key up a rush because he has limited control of where the puck will end up. So, he needs to use stick-handling to manipulate the attack into skating to one side like he does in the offensive zone.
The other area that Luneau needs to work on with his passing is how much power he puts into his wind-up. Like I mentioned in the offensive zone, Luneau will put slightly too much power behind his lateral passes and that can make it a challenge for his teammate to capture possession of the puck cleanly off a pass.
When aiming to move the puck up the ice and initiate the rush, sometimes his decision-making on choosing lanes can be hit or miss and he will take on an attacker dead on. Luneau will play the puck right to him and get checked. He needs to work on using his peripheral vision, scanning and then identifying attackers so he can move around them and continue driving the puck up.
When it comes to defending against the cycle, he needs to be far more selective on which attacker to pursue and which he shouldn’t. For instance, you will see him up pressure on an attacker who doesn’t have the puck, but do so too far up the boards. Ultimately, that forces his teammate to drop back for him when Luneau should be far closer to the red line.
Luneau is effective at defending behind the red line, he does a good job of keeping pace and staying aligned to the puck carrying attacker. When defending in low danger along the boards, he does a solid job with his active stick to keep them along low danger, but his active stick isn’t working as a complete trap. His active stick doesn’t sandwich the attacker and force them into a situation in which they need to get rid of the puck on a dime to try to keep the offensive cycle alive.
While he does use an active stick along the boards and is effective at keeping the attack in low danger, he doesn’t truly trap attackers and that also happens quite a bit at open ice. Luneau will extends his stick but doesn’t force puck movement. Attackers can move around the active stick at open ice and net separation. In order for Luneau to trap attackers at open ice, he needs to determine which direction he wants the attacker to utilize (ideally towards low danger) and extend his stick to the other side to force the attacker to use the lane that Luneau wants them to use. Afterwards, Luneau needs to be quick with his stick and pick the moment in which the attacker is most vulnerable to strike with a poke check. He needs to find the moment in which the attacker isn’t securing the puck.
Luneau isn’t overly physical with his defending in the corners and in low danger, but he will lay down checks to cause puck disruption. In a loose puck battle along the boards, you can expect Luneau to use a hip check or should check to silence the cycle. In situations in which he is going for the puck from behind, he will use he will use his upper body strength to push into the attacker and stick lift to cause puck disruption to force a turnover.
Defending against odd man rushes can be a challenge for Luneau. He will give slightly too much space on 2-on-1s by positioning himself slightly too close to the puck carrying attacker and changes his angling slowly. That opens up passing lanes for the opposition.
When it comes to gap control on attackers who don’t have possession of the puck, Luneau does a decent job on the back check to put pressure on the attacker who is skating through centered ice to give his teammate along the boards a passing lane. Luneau stays glued to him to take him away as an option. By staying well-aligned to the attacker’s back, he takes away any opportunity for the attacker to move the puck once he captures possession. Luneau is right there for the picking.
When going back for loose pucks in the neutral zone, he will grab possession and drift towards his blue line to key up an opposition line change and catch the opponents off guard. Luneau does a good job of controlling the pace of play and manipulating the attackers to complete a change. The manipulation tactics open up ice for Luneau to exploit.
Luneau doesn’t move the puck from zone to zone very often. Like I spoke about in the offensive section, Luneau will take the wrong approach when carrying the puck through the neutral zone and walk right into a trap with four attackers positioned against him. He needs to use his peripherals to see that the fifth attacker is disengaged and peel to the left as there is plenty of open ice. Instead, he gets trapped and has to dump the puck. It’s not the worst move since he would be forcing the attack to go chase after the puck instead of a potential turnover in the neutral zone, but he is still giving his attackers the opportunity to net a change in possession. By using his peripheral vision, he could enter into the offensive zone with control of the puck and create a scoring chance off the rush.
Similar to what I saw in the defensive zone, when Luneau has the puck on his stick and is looking to get the puck into the hands of a teammate closer to the blue line, he struggles with puck manipulation to dodge pressure and will then look to utilize the boards and complete a bounce pass. It does work, but he doesn’t have control over where the puck is going and if the attacker is tracking Luneau will, they could end up with possession of the puck instead of Luneau’s teammate netting possession.
When defending in the neutral zone, his assertiveness can be inconsistent. There are shifts in which he doesn’t seem assertive in the neutral zone defensively and lets the rush come right into his own zone. He doesn’t use an active stick with his reach to take away space and isn’t aligned with his defensive partner. That provides the opposition with plenty of room and a variety of lanes to use to get the puck in the offensive zone. While there are quite of few oppositional rushes in which Luneau has taken more of a passive role, there are plenty of shifts in which he is well-aligned to his defensive partner and engaged from the moment in which the opposition moves the puck into the neutral zone from their own zone.
Last up, let’s quickly go over Luneau’s skating.
He has excellent crossovers that allow him to garner acceleration. Luneau’s crossovers when going backwards allow him to keep pace with rush without losing ground. The crossovers keep him going and he doesn’t get into situations often in which he has to bail out and revert to skating forwards.
Luneau does implement quality inside and outside edges when shifting lanes up the middle of the ice. But, he will struggle with his outside edges when he tries to shift from skating backwards to playing the loose puck along the boards. He doesn’t always lean on his edges and that hurts his ability to retain speed. When activating off of the turn, he has to gain all of the speed in which he had before the turn. That means that an attacker who skated forwards the entire way up the ice has the advantage versus Luneau who had been skating backwards and had to deviate as there were changes in puck movement.
Lastly, his stride extensions have decent length, but he doesn’t have the desired ankle flexion and posture to go with it. His back can be hunched over at times and thus he isn’t able to get into a quality power stride. Luneau’s posture doesn’t allow for his knees to sit in tow with the toe of his skates when completing a stride recovery. He needs to push more weight over his knees to improve his ankle flexion, but that isn’t possible with a hunched over back.
If Luneau works on his skating and keeps a conservative strategy when controlling the puck, I believe that his projection is a third pairing defenseman. But, if Luneau can adopt a more creative style to puck control, grow his scanning abilities and further develop his skating, his upside only trends upwards. I just want to see Luneau attack in the offensive zone with passes to medium and high danger. While Luneau does pass to medium and high danger, he doesn’t do it with much regularity. He needs to continue to grow his puck manipulation to open up space for himself and not revert to low danger shots. I’d like to see him grow more of an inside game and challenge more. If he does do so, then second pairing upside is possible.
June 27, 2022
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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