PROSPECT REPORT: MAVRIK BOURQUE
Today’s report is going to be a QMJHL feature on the Shawinigan Cataractes star Mavrik Bourque. Bourque is leading the way in the scoring category for the Cataractes. He’s netted 20 goals and and added 28 assists for 48 points through 35 games. Bourque is Shawinigan's’ go-to guy, playing big minutes in all situations. He’s got some incredible chemistry on Shawinigan’s top line with 2021 eligible Xavier Bourgault, and those two have been a nightmare for the rest of the QMJHL this season. Bourque had a 16 game point streak end on December 1st, in which he totaled 30 points. In addition, there’s only six games this season in which Bourque didn’t register a point. So the numbers are there, but what about the physical tools?
Bourque’s skating definitely isn’t anything to write home about. He’s got a nice top speed, and a somewhat powerful stride, but he’s not a big breakaway threat. He’s strong on his edges to the point where he can out-think and elude most checks, but he doesn’t have real pro-level evasiveness, at least with the puck. Without the puck, Bourque can maneuver around cover much better. My biggest gripe with Bourque’s game comes along with his skating, and it’s that he always stops moving his feet when he has the puck. On the rush, when Bourque crosses the blue line, his feet stop. Pretty much every time, like clockwork. It’s super frustrating to watch, and I’ve pulled a couple examples of this. For time’s sake, I cherry picked the ones that also ended up going in the back of the net because of Bourque.
He gets the puck, crosses the blue line, and stops moving his feet. He ends up getting a primary assist because of the slick pass that he made, but the play only worked for one reason, which I’ll explain in a minute.
Here, Bourque leads the rush on a 4 on 2. He crosses the blue line and stops at the correct time, dishing the puck to the trailer. However, Bourque misses his opportunity to take 2 or 3 more strides down towards the goal, and when he gets the puck back, the defenseman is within a sticks reach of him. Bourque is able to get a quick bank shot off of the goalie’s back and in. Good goal, but he could have had a much more open shot had he taken more strides. To be clear, none of this is a knock against Bourque’s effort. He plays hard every shift, I think he just needs to improve that one aspect of his game. If Bourque could keep his feet moving more often, it will put defensemen even further back on their heels, and add another element of deception to his game.
The reason the first play worked out, and the reason Bourque is solidly in my first round, is that he’s a near elite shooter. The defenseman has to honor him, because Bourque slows down and indicates that a shot might be coming. Even the goalie looks locked in and ready for Bourque to shoot. Bourque possesses one of the most lethal wrist shots of any 2020 eligible player. His release is incredibly quick, and he can pick corners from some impressive angles. He’s also a master of the one-timer from the mid to low slot. I’ve compiled some of my favorite goals of his this season:
Bourque makes a sneaky little move behind the defenseman and opens up a good size pocket of ice. In one motion, the puck is on and off of his stick in the blink of an eye.
Similar to the last clip, Bourque evades a defenseman and finds a shooting lane. He gets a great pass and rifles the puck top shelf.
The puck comes straight to his feet but he’s able to get a very quick and accurate shot away. That’s a true goal scorer’s
Bourque shows off his accuracy again here, once he sees the screen he picks a spot and immediately hits it.
You’re going to want to rewind that one a couple times. The motion of his shot is so clean, the release is fast and heavy, and the puck hits the water bottle.
Here’s Bourque continuing to skate over the blue line and getting rewarded for it. He’s a very strong finisher when given time and space.
Bourque goes for accuracy over power here, sending somewhat of a knuckling one-timer across the grain. It works out and he’s able to catch the goalie by surprise.
He’s like an assassin in this one. He’s in, finds the puck, scores, and out of the crease before the other team even knows where the puck is.
Bourque’s offense doesn’t stop with his shooting though, he’s a very good playmaker. He’s not very shifty, and he won’t wow you with most of his assists. However, he consistently makes crisp tape to tape passes, and lots of them to high danger areas. Bourque’s favorite pass is a no-look feed across the ice. He’ll take the puck at the top of the right circle and back down the defense as a shooting threat. He’ll pull back as if to shoot, and then send a perfect pass to the other circle. He keeps it simple, with little mistakes. He’s most effective on the power play as a shooter, but is extremely valuable as a playmaker too because of his shooting threat.
Simple, tape to tape, and didn’t hang on to the puck for too long.
Waits, waits, waits, and then delivers the pass. Bourque knows how to draw out defenders’ sticks.
The aforementioned chemistry with Bourgault is on full display here. Bourque waits for him to get below the hash marks, then delivers a perfect deflection pass, and Bourgault finishes.
Lots of other players would have kept skating towards the blue line to reset the play. Bourque realizes that there is an overcommitment on his side and sends a seam pass to his teammate on the other side of the ice. It’s risky, but Bourque’s crisp pass eventually leads to a goal.
Here, Bourque starts off the shift with his trademark cross-ice pass. He doesn’t have it on the second look, but what he does have is Xavier Bourgault’s stick in front of the net. Bourque hits it with out hesitation, leading to a goal.
Bourque wins the race for the puck, and manages to draw a penalty by keeping his feet moving. He then subtly interferes with the defenseman, creating a breakaway lane for his teammate. Not pretty, but a high IQ play.
Bourque knows he drew a penalty, and he’s falling, but he still manages to put a perfect pass on his teammate’s stick for the finish.
My stance on Bourque as of now is that he’s got great shooting, good skating, solid playmaking skills, decent defensive ability, and quick hands. I see a capable 2nd/3rd liner in the NHL. He’s great at playing slowed down, precise hockey. If Bourque can add more speed, and become more dynamic in transition, then the sky is the limit for him.