Devils Draft Series: Mavrik Bourque, Sneaky Offensive Talent

Mavrik Bourque can play both wing and center. (Photo by Jean Levasseur/Shawinigan Cataractes)

Profile

Mavrik Bourque is an 18-year old Canadian, who’s listed as 5-foot-10, 178 pounds. He spent the majority of his draft minus-one season on the wing but moved to center for the entirety of this season. The right-handed shot has played his whole junior hockey career in Canada. The final 2020 Draft Prospect Rankings were not kind to Bourque, as he ranked 22nd; this after being 24th in the midterm rankings. 

The Statistics

As a 13-year-old, Bourque started his junior career in the Quebec Bantam AAA Hockey League. He played parts of two seasons in the league, compiling 53 points in 61 games. His 1.41 point per game average his second season in the league ranked ninth of 581 qualified players. In comparison, fellow prospect Hendrix Lapierre’s 1.58 point per game average was two spots better.

He moved to the Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League for the 2017-18 season, where he racked up 46 points in 40 and a plus-18 rating. This point total led his team by 11 and was the 14th most among 399 qualified players. He made his CHL debut in the QMJHL with the Shawinigan Cataractes. In his draft minus-one season, he totaled 54 points (25 points, 29 assists) in 64 games. This amount was second-most on the team, a team that was the QMJHL’s worse at 14-49-5. 

This season Bourque took a huge step forward, as he scored 71 points (29 goals, 42 assists) in only 49 games. This point per game average not only led his team but ranked ninth in the whole QMJHL. Unfortunately for Bourque, his team improved but was still not anything to brag about (29-32-2 record). To further demonstrate how great of a season Bourque had, there was a distinct positive correlation in his offensive output and the team’s performance. There’s no doubt this was Bourque’s team, and it showed with his 22 to 23-plus minutes of ice-time on a nightly basis.

Bourque’s Scouting Report

Strengths

Bourque’s strengths revolve around his offensive game. His offensive instincts are rare, and what makes him a first-round prospect.  He has a tremendous shooting ability, as his shot is extremely accurate, and he’s just that type of player that knows how to put the puck into the back of the net.

His playmaking is also another area where he excels. This is largely thanks to an ability to anticipate and think the game quickly. His passes are also extremely accurate, and he usually springs teammates or finds them in high danger areas. This ability directly correlates with his superb vision, as well as the two aspects of his game mentioned previously.

Lastly, his puck control is great. His shot and passes are both extremely accurate. And this has a lot to do with his hands and overall ability to control and manipulate the puck on his stick. Overall, his offensive game is great.

Weaknesses

Bourque needs to work on his defense, and it comes down to his effort and work ethic at this end of the ice. He does not exert the energy he needs to be successful defensively. He often glides back on the backcheck and relies on passing his guy off in his own zone instead of sticking to his hip.

Bourque also needs to continue adding strength. He was only listed at 160 pounds not too long ago. Although he’s bulked up to close to 180, this needs to continue, as he will see benefits to his skating, shot strength, and defensive ability — specifically board battles. 

Speaking of skating, for his height and weight, he does not skate like others in this area of the draft and with similar size. Fortunately, he took a strong stride forward in this area and should continue making this a point of development.

Projection

Bourque has been productive offensively throughout his junior career. His success at the NHL-level will heavily depend on his defensive development. Another question about him is what position he will play professionally. He played both the wing and center in the QMJHL, and given his defensive abilities, it seems wing is more suitable for him in the NHL. 

Bourque should continue to improve, and if this improvement is anything like the steps he took from his draft minus-one season to this season, whoever drafts him will be pleased. I believe a permanent switch to wing would help further his evelopment. So expect him to be drafted mid-to-late round one, specifically between picks 18-22.

Fit With the Devils

Bourque should translate as a winger in the NHL, so he is something the Devils do need, especially given his offensive abilities resemble that of a top-six forward. It comes down to his defensive development which may very well not be as big of an issue when his ice time is decreased. Given how poor his QMJHL team is, Bourque has been heavily relied on, and in an attempt to conserve energy to still be able to be productive, his defensive game may be the part affected negatively.

Bourque won’t be considered until wherever the Devils’ last pick of round one is. This most likely selection 17, may still be a tad too early. If he is the best player available at this point, then sure Bourque would make a fine pick, but I doubt this to be the case. He may make more sense, however, if the Devils traded back in round one, which I think there is a possibility of. This instance would provide more value.

Ranking of Evaluated Prospects

1. Alexis Lafrenière (no profile will be released)

2. Tim Stützle (05/07/2020)

3. Quinton Byfield (05/08/2020)

4. Marco Rossi (04/30/2020)

5. Jamie Drysdale (05/01/2020)

6. Lucas Raymond (04/28/2020)

7. Alexander Holtz (04/29/2020)

8. Cole Perfetti (05/06/2020)

9. Anton Lundell (05/11/2020)

10. Yaroslav Askarov (05/05/2020)

11. Seth Jarvis (05/13/2020)

12. Jake Sanderson (05/04/2020)

13. Dawson Mercer (05/16/2020)

14. Noel Gunler (05/19/2020)

15. Rodion Amirov (05/12/2020)

16. Jack Quinn (05/09/2020)

17. Dylan Holloway (05/14/2020)

18. Connor Zary (05/15/2020)

19. Mavrik Bourque (Today)

20. Lukas Reichel (05/18/2020)

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