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Prospect Update: Benoit-Olivier Groulx
By Thomas Harrington
Anaheim’s second round pick from 2018, Benoit-Olivier Groulx just finished his second professional season and made his NHL debut.
Groulx split the season between Anaheim and San Diego. He bounced back and forth between the two clubs multiple times, with his longest stint in Anaheim coming at the start of the season and his longest stint in San Diego coming at the end. With the Ducks, he played in 18 games and scored one goal and three points. With the Gulls, he played in 40 games and scored 11 goals and 22 points. The 11 goals represented a career high for him in the AHL, despite playing in fewer games from the previous season. With the Gulls, Groulx spent most of his time on the team’s top line. With the Ducks, he was primarily used on the team’s fourth line, but did play over 14 minutes four times. Unfortunately, Groulx was injured and missed both games against Ontario in the playoffs. He had a lower body injury from mid-April that kept him out of the lineup.
Groulx didn’t play any AHL games until mid-November. He had a bit of a slow start to his time in San Diego, recording only one assist in his first seven games, but then scored a goal in three straight games. Other than a pointless streak of five games shortly after being assigned to the Gulls, he had a very consistent offensive season. He had one other pointless stretch of four games, but never went more than two games without a point during the rest of his time in San Diego. With the Ducks, it took Groulx nine games to record his first career point, an assist against Vegas. He had his first multi-point effort in November when he had a goal and assist against St. Louis.
I didn’t have Groulx making the NHL as one of my expectations for him, I hoped he would but I didn’t make that an expectation. So the fact that he did means he beat the expectations I had for him. When he was with San Diego he was one of the better skaters and scored more goals in fewer games than the previous season. Overall, it was a solid season for the second year pro.
This coming season, I think Groulx will once again split time between the Ducks and Gulls. If he has another strong camp, he could be in Anaheim to start the season. Otherwise, I think he’ll be the first callup from San Diego when the Ducks need another forward.
I have two expectations for Groulx this season. First, for him to play more in the NHL. He doesn’t need to play in 80 games with the Ducks, but I expect to see him in an Anaheim uniform this season. Second, when he is in San Diego, to continue to play in their top six and be one of their better overall forwards. He doesn’t have the offensive capabilities of some of Anaheim’s other prospects, but he’s a strong defensive forward who can score, and I want to see both of those aspects shine when he’s in the AHL. Groulx doesn’t need to become a fulltime NHL player this season, but he needs to show that he’s ready to take that next step.
Groulx has one year left on his entry-level contract and he’ll be a restricted free agent next summer. Unlike Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale, I don’t expect him to be extended this summer. But as long as Groulx can have a strong third year, I fully expect him to be re-signed a year from now. It will likely be a short, two-way deal, unless he spends the entire year in Anaheim. Then he may get a one-way deal, but I don’t think he’ll have earned a long term contract by next summer unless he has a Calder Trophy worthy season for the Ducks.
The next prospect update will be on Brayden Tracey.
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August 5th, 2022