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Prospect Update: Benoit-Olivier Groulx
By Thomas Harrington
The Ducks drafted forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx in the second round last summer, and he had a great year in Halifax this past season.
This was Groulx’s third season playing for Halifax, his first as an alternate captain, and it was far and away his best. He scored a combined 86 points in his first two seasons with the Mooseheads but exploded to score 31 goals and 80 points this past season. He finished fourth on the team in goals, second in points, and led them in assists. On top of his offensive explosion, he also almost halved his penalty minute total, going from 100 PIMs in the 2017-2018 season to 56 PIMs this past season. By increasing his point total so much and hurting his team much less by taking significantly fewer penalties, Groulx definitely had a great season for Halifax. Safe to say that he responded well to being named one of the team’s leaders. Groulx also played with fellow Anaheim prospect Antoine Morand, who was the team’s captain.
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In the playoffs, Groulx missed over a dozen games with mono. He missed the first two rounds of the postseason but returned to face Drummondville, Max Comtois’ team. Groulx played in four games and recorded four assists, helping Halifax advance to the QMJHL Finals where they played the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The Huskies won in six games, but Groulx certainly wasn’t the reason they lost; he scored four goals and eight points in those six games. Despite losing in the QMJHL Finals, Halifax was the host of the Memorial Cup and had an automatic berth in the tournament. In the tournament, the Mooseheads made it to the Memorial Cup Final, where they faced off against the Huskies again. Rouyn-Noranda came out on top again. In four games, Groulx scored one goal and four points.
This coming season will be Groulx’s final season of junior hockey, and after this past season, I have some high expectations for him. First, as long as he can stay healthy, I’d like another 70+ point season out of him. Second, to make Team Canada at the World Junior Championships. Groulx was named to Team Canada’s summer showcase. While that’s not a guarantee that he makes the team, he is under strong consideration to do so. It would be great if Groulx could win the Memorial Cup in his final season of junior hockey, but given that it’s a team victory, that’s not an expectation that I’ll have for him this season.
If Groulx can have a truly great final season of junior hockey, he could make his NHL debut as early as the 2020-2021 season. However, I think it more likely he spends that entire season with the Gulls and has a shot at the NHL the following season. Then again, I didn’t think Isac Lundestrom or Comtois would play in Anaheim this past year, and both certainly surprised me.
While Groulx may not turn into a top-line center, he certainly looks like a future second or third center someday. He’s got some great hands and responded very well when he took on a leadership role with his team. As long as he continues to progress, we could see him pushing the likes of Sam Steel and Lundestrom for playing time in Anaheim in a few years. That’s far from a guarantee, but it’s definitely a possibility.
Groulx is currently not signed to a contract and the Ducks have until next summer to sign him to his entry-level deal. Given the season he just had, I expect Anaheim to sign him to a three-year deal sooner rather than later, possibly before this season even begins.
The next prospect update will be on Isac Lundestrom.
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August 27th, 2019