Gabriel Gagné THW Close-Up
Date of birth: 11 November 1996
Place of birth: Ste-Adèle, QC
Ht: 6’5″ Wt: 186 lbs
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2015
THW The Next Ones Rankings (February): not ranked
Craig Button (November): 97
Craig Button (March): not ranked
Future Considerations Midterm Rankings (January): 95
THW’s War Room April 2015 Rankings: 38
NHL Central Scouting’s Final Rankings for North American skaters: 36
On the ice, 6’5″ Victoriaville Tigres winger Gabriel Gagné is hard to miss. On the rankings at the various prospect scouting outfits, he’s not nearly as prominent. This isn’t to say he’s altogether absent; rather, there isn’t much consensus on the kid.
This, despite more than doubling his goal output between his rookie season and this past one, from 16 to 35. That’s just four fewer goals than highly-touted fellow prospect Daniel Sprong. Historically goals may not be all that hard to come by in the Q, but Gagné’s improvement over last season in this category accurately reflects the fact that he has made improvements in several facets of his game, and it certainly ought to grant him benefit of the doubt when considering whether or not he can continue to improve. The NHL entry draft is an exercise in expert speculation; so if in the next few years he can add 35-40 pounds and the requisite strength to go with it, and he maintains and fine-tunes his existing scoring touch, how do you say no to a potential 6’6″ 225 lb power forward?
That might be a wildly optimistic, glass-is-overflowing kind of outlook, but considering some of the criticism sent his way following his rookie season–in a nutshell that he was only any good when planted in front of the net on the power play–he’s taken some impressive steps in his development into a more complete hockey player.
‘You can’t teach size’, according to the saying, but if you can’t use it either, then it’s pointless. Dallas Stars fans have watched in frustration as defenseman Jamie Oleksiak has struggled to find his game at the NHL level, despite being an outstanding skater, possessing a great shot, and having a seemingly-can’t-miss stature of 6’7″ 245 lb. Granted it’s different for defensemen, but at this stage of his development Gagné is learning to make the most out of this unteachable quality. He very well could tear up the Q next season if he stays on this trajectory.
One additional note: Gagné’s 255 shots were good for first on his team and 13th overall in the Q, and he also ranked 13th overall for the exclusively-QMJHL statistic, Dangerous Shots, with 154. The Q uses the stat DS/S in their box scores, indicating dangerous shots over total shots, but as you might expect, there’s plenty of disagreement over what qualifies as a dangerous shot, a non-dangerous shot, and a scoring chance. Take that subjectivity for whatever it’s worth, bottom line he’s a huge winger who has shown the ability to improve and who likes to shoot the puck. Plus, plus, and plus.
Where Will He End Up In June
Gagné ought to hear his name by the end of the second round.
“… A big winger that works hard and competes. Skating is fine for his size with decent speed. Seems to be able to handle the puck but a better shooter then play maker. With added strength and size has a chance to develop into a quality power forward.”
“… Skates very well for his size, and his acceleration is remarkable; his lower body strength generates a lot of power with respect to his mobility. Possesses an absolutely wicked release to his shot, as well as good hands around the net … can be a very difficult player to contain. Defensively active in his own end – uses his long reach to knock pucks off opponents’ sticks, and isn’t afraid to hound and hit; able to quickly transition from defense to offense and move the puck out using his speed. All-in-all, a big-bodied, number-generating forward that has the skill and size to be a force at both ends of the ice.”
Risk: 3/5 Reward: 5/5
High hockey IQ
Flaws/Aspects He Needs To Work On
Add some muscle to his muscle-ready frame
Play a more physical game
NHL Player Comparison
Keith Primeau comes to mind.
Nice video profile by John Moore
THW’s The Next Ones prospect profile template design architect: Chris Ralph