2020-21 Team: Gatineau Olympiques / QMJHL
Date of Birth: Jun. 22, 2003
Place of Birth: Cantley, Canada
Ht: 6-foot-1 Wt: 172 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2021 first-year eligible
At 6-foot-1, 173 pounds, Emerik Despatie is far from the largest goaltender in the draft, but size is not his defining trait. No, where Despatie stands out in this draft class is his speed and movement in the net. His ability to cover wrap-around shots and move side to side is amongst the best in the class, as he is able to move his frame around and cover angles with shocking quickness.
Besides being fast, Despatie plays a smart, calm game. He doesn’t let a bad outing rattle him, and he never stops fighting while he is on the ice, whether his team is up by two goals or down by two. This mental toughness is important in a young goaltending prospect, as there will be many rough games to go along with the good ones while they develop.
If he had a larger pool of quality starts, he could have been one of those players who made a jump up the boards before to 2021 NHL Draft. As it stands, he has room to grow his game but has a solid foundation to build upon for the right team.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Emerik Despatie – NHL Draft Projection
It’s hard to project where goaltenders will be selected in the 2021 NHL Draft. Even under normal circumstances, a player like Despatie would be in that nebulous “late-round” category, which means he could hear his name called somewhere after Round 4.
Related: THW 2021 NHL Draft Guide
While he does have a lot of positives that general managers look for in a goalie, I also don’t expect Despatie to hear his name called at the draft until Rounds 6 or 7. If there is a run on goaltenders early, he may go in Round 5, but I get the feeling that this run on goalies won’t happen until later this draft this year, meaning that he won’t get selected until the seventh round.
When you consider how well he reads plays, moves around the crease, challenges shooters and battles when things become difficult it would seem that Despatie has a strong foundation on which to build. He looks comfortable in his abilities and should be able to develop his pre-shot approach to include a taller stance in order to address his biggest area of concern.Shaun Richardson (From Emerik Despatie Game Report, FCHockey, April 1, 2021)
…I was at the same time overwhelmed by Despaties’ capability to move without any restriction in his net. From left to right, to right to left, his quickness is top notch if not elite, and allows him to stay toe to toe with shooters who come at him at full speed… I learned after the game that during his youth Despaties did some karate (he holds a Black Belt) where his flexibility and agility comes from.FC Staff (From Emerik Despatie Game Report, FCHockey, Nov. 2, 2019)
- Moves his frame quickly to efficiently cover the crease
- Doesn’t get shaken when things go wrong
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
Despatie has a few mechanical issues that could limit his top-end potential. The main problem he has is his low stance, which allows him to move quickly but opens him up to high shots against. If he can improve his coverage of the top of the net, it would go a long way for him eventually breaking into the league professionally.
With NHL-caliber size and athleticism to build upon, Despatie has a lot of intangibles that can help him blossom into an AHL starter in the future. As a likely late-round pick, that alone isn’t a bad outcome.
If he continues to iron out the few weaknesses in his game, however, the potential is there for Despatie to become more than just an AHL’er. He might not project out to a full-time NHL starter, but he could do very well in a backup role with a team, taking on a limited schedule each season.
Risk – 2/5, Reward – 3/5
As a late-round draft pick, there really isn’t much risk or expectations that should be put on Despatie. He will be a project goaltender, who could take years to fully develop. If things go perfectly, you could get a full-time backup with starting potential for this pick, but that will take years of work.
Emerik Despatie Statistics
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.