2021-22 Team: Gatineau Olympiques (QMJHL)
Date of Birth: July 28, 2004
Place of Birth: Mirabel, QC, CAN
Ht: 5-foot-8 Wt: 163 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2022 first-year eligible
- NHL Central Scouting: 89th (amongst NA skaters)
- Future Considerations: 70th
- Peter Baracchini’s March Rankings: 80th
Antonin Verreault exploded into the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with a fantastic rookie campaign, sharing the team lead in points with 29 in 31 games. His 23 assists earned him the title of the best offensive rookie in the league in the 2020-21 season, and he’s since followed it up with another strong campaign with the Gatineau Olympiques. Incredibly gifted in terms of what he can do with the puck, Verreault is the type of player teams wish they took earlier in the draft and one that will come back to bite them. Drafted second overall in the 2020 QMJHL Draft, he was one of three players selected in the top-five by the Olympiques.
Related: THW 2022 NHL Draft Guide
At 5-foot-8, Verreault relies heavily on his speed and puck instincts, often using his mobility to get around body checks while using his craftiness to avoid stick checks and the occasional hooking attempt. He uses his body to protect the puck well while carrying it, and he has the tendency to push his dominant knee forward to apply additional pressure on his stick when avoiding slashes as he glides by. A natural puck-carrier, he always has his head on a swivel to find someone to pass to, and his creativity leads to being double-covered by the opposition, which only plays into his hand when finding openings. He possesses great awareness when it comes to knowing when it’s too long to hold onto a puck.
The Olympiques have leaned on Verreault to carry the play up the ice, something he has no problem with whatsoever. He manages to gain the offensive zone with relative ease, using his quickness and his hands to get away from checking players, and his decision-making off the rush is among the best in the league. The tools he possesses has led him to be one of the best offensive players on his team, making him a top-three scorer on his team despite having played in fewer games than those beneath him. Simply put, when the puck is on his stick he becomes an immediate threat.
The drawback is his size, which shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Scouts routinely mark off points for players below the threshold of six feet, and even though he’s picked up a few inches since his draft year in the QMJHL, he’s still below average in terms of size. The physical side of the game isn’t particularly kind to Verreault, who finds himself mismatched often and overpowered by much larger opponents. This puts him in a tough position when it comes to puck battles in corners and along the boards, but he makes up for it by avoiding these types of battles with his speed and stick-handling abilities.
Being incapable of playing a factor in the physical game shouldn’t hinder his stock too much when his offensive instincts are taken into account. Players like Johnny Gaudreau and Brendan Gallagher have made successful careers out of playing off their strengths despite being physically limited and small in stature. For someone like Verreault, a team taking a chance on him and giving him the proper development could benefit from his capabilities when he’s ready to make the jump.
Other THW Draft Profiles
Antonin Verreault – NHL Draft Projection
Verreault has first-round talent inside a mid-round body. Scouts will shy away from him due to his 5-foot-8 stature, but they’ll likely regret that decision in the future. He’s projected to go anywhere between the third and fifth round, but dropping anywhere below that will become quite the steal for the team that takes him. His raw offensive potential could sneak him into the bottom-end of the second round if a team feels he won’t be available at their next pick.
“If he makes it, it’ll be as a playmaking type who has the puck on his stick, plays on the man advantage and makes deft little skill plays inside the offensive zone. Though he’s not lacking in effort or detail defensively, that’s never going to be a strength of his almost by default.”- Scott Wheeler, The Athletic
“Among the players that are the most intriguing, Antonin Verreault combines an incredible hockey IQ, a superb vision, some high-end puck skills and a tremendous mobility into a skill set that deserves first-round considerations.”- Andy Lehoux, FC Hockey
- Offensive awareness
- High hockey IQ
Under Construction- Improvements to Make
- Physically limited
- Disengaged from battles
Despite his size, Verreault possesses a high hockey IQ and the vision to go along with it. He has all the qualities you would want in a play-making forward and a team that gives him a chance will reap the rewards. He can be a contributing member on a team’s top nine while quarterbacking a power play with his precise passes and ability to draw opposing players in to create space and time for his teammates.
Risk- Reward Analysis
Risk- 3/5, Reward 4/5
Fantasy Hockey Potential
Offense- 7/10, Defense 5/10
Verreault was a member of the 2019-20 Saint-Eustache Vikings, serving as an alternate captain and representing the team as a member of the First All-Star Team. That same year, he helped the Canada U16 team win the bronze medal at the Youth Olympic Games. His first year in the QMJHL, he led all rookies with 23 assists, capturing the Michel Bergeron Trophy for best offensive rookie of the year while finishing in a tie for first on the team in scoring. He was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team.
Antonin Verreault Statistics
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Covering the Nashville Predators. I work for a company called SPORTLOGiQ and have loved the game of Hockey for over three decades. I’m obsessed with advanced analytics and pair that with my love for the eye test – i.e. watching the games (I DO that too!)