Holding the 30th overall selection in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft and with many great options still on the board, the Dallas Stars made a fascinating decision by selecting center Mavrik Bourque from the Shawinigan Cataractes in the QMJHL.
The appeal of Bourque here for the Stars is obvious: he’s a forward with very high-end smarts, playmaking, puck skill and offensive creativity, which is the exact type of player that the Stars have needed to add to their organization for a long time. His point totals from this past season — 71 points in 49 games — speak volumes about how dangerous he can be offensively. Twenty-five of those points came on the power play, which put him 11th in the QMJHL for the 2019-20 season. He really took player’s ownership of that Cataractes club last season, and was deservedly named their team captain for 2020-21.
Now, there are some things that he will need to work on. His skating is somewhere in the average to above-average range. That alone isn’t a big deal, but he’s also a forward on the smaller side of things, who lacks strength and might have some problems adding enough muscle onto his frame as he develops. There’s always a bit of risk when a player is lacking in both these areas at once. You would also like to see him play at a higher pace and do it consistently, as he can be a little too laid back at times.
That being said, this is a pick made for the future, not for the present. He’s still a few years away from the NHL, and that’s okay. With Bourque, there’s a very, very high ceiling here that he could reach if the Stars are patient with him and everything in his development goes according to plan.
Here are some various thoughts I have about this pick, in no particular order:
- Remember 2015, when Stars fans were hoping and praying for a skilled playmaking center like Mat Barzal? Or 2016, with dangerous offensive winger Alex DeBrincat? Or in 2018, with another playmaking center in Joe Veleno? Well, tonight is the night where the Stars really invested in pure offensive talent. That felt like a long time coming.
- Simply put, there aren’t any other players in the prospect pool — or, really, on the roster either — like Bourque. And that’s a very intriguing thing to think about. Imagine what guys like Denis Gurianov and Roope Hintz could do alongside a bonafide playmaker. Or imagine Jason Robertson working in the dirty areas on the power play with Bourque setting things up from the wall. This draft decision fills a major need for the Stars, which should make them a more versatile and offensively dangerous team in the future.
- This was the first time that Dallas picked a player out of the QMJHL since Philippe Desrosiers in 2013.
- On my final Top 101 draft board I had Bourque 40th. However, he was also in a tier that ranged from 29th to 40th, so I always viewed him as a potential first-round talent and fit for this pick at 30th. Some players who were ahead of Bourque on my board: Noel Gunler, Helge Grans, William Wallinder, John-Jason Peterka, Marat Khusnutdinov, Jan Mysak and Joni Jurmo.
- However, Bourque was ranked much, much higher by a lot of other sources. He was even slotted as high as 13th overall for the team at Elite Prospects. So there is definitely an argument that could be made — and that will be made by many — that the Dallas Stars landed the best player available with this pick.
- Did the Stars fill their biggest need in their system and draft the best player available with their pick? While we obviously won’t know the answer to this question for a few years, it is a very realistic possibility.