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Prospect Update: Benoit-Olivier Groulx
By Thomas Harrington
Anaheim’s second round pick from 2018, forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx, spent most of this past season in the AHL, while getting in a couple of NHL games as well.
Groulx made Anaheim’s roster out of training camp in the 2021-2022 season. Unfortunately, things didn’t go as well for him to start this past season and he was with the Gulls until near the end of the season. In San Diego, he played in a career-high 63 games and scored a career-high 18 goals and 39 points. He finished second on the team in goals, tied for second on the team in points, and fourth in assists. He was primarily used on San Diego’s top line, though after recovering from an injury late in the season he saw some time on lower lines as he worked himself back into game shape.
Groulx was called up to Anaheim in mid-April and played in two games for the Ducks, going scoreless in both. Despite playing in only two games, he saw significantly more ice time in those two games than he did the previous season. He only played more than 14 minutes four times, while he played over 15 minutes in both games this past season. After playing in those two games, he was returned to San Diego for their final two games of the season.
I had two expectations for Groulx last summer and he met both. First, I figured he’d spend a majority of the season in San Diego but I also expected him to play some games with the Ducks. He almost missed this one but two games at the end of the year means he made it. However, I had also thought he would be among the first call ups from San Diego, and that didn’t happen. Second, when he was in San Diego, I wanted him to be among their offensive leaders and play primarily on their top two lines. He passed this expectation with flying colors, and was arguably San Diego’s most consistent forward over the course of the entire season.
This isn’t a make-or-break season for Groulx. He’ll likely once again spend time in both the NHL and AHL again. However, it is time for him to start showing that he can be an NHL regular in the future, so he needs to show more with the Ducks than he has so far. He’s played a total of 20 NHL games and scored a goal and three points. He’s not going to be an elite scorer, but he does need to start putting up better offensive numbers. Groulx has the skills to succeed on a team’s third or fourth line; now he needs to show that he can do it.
One thing that could help Groulx is the injury to Isac Lundestrom. Lundestrom was essentially penciled in to be one of Anaheim’s bottom six centers. However, with him missing the start of the season, there’s more space for some of Anaheim’s other young centers to get some NHL time. Groulx is far from a lock to fill in for Lundestrom, but I have to think he’s one of the favorites to do so before the season starts.
I have a couple of expectations for Groulx this coming year. First, to set career highs in games played, goals, and points in the NHL. If he can make Anaheim out of training camp like he did two years ago, even better. Second, when he’s in San Diego, for him to continue to be one of their top forwards. Groulx has been a very good AHL player, and that needs to continue when he’s playing for the Gulls.
Groulx was re-signed to a one-year two-way deal; he’ll be a restricted free agent when it’s over. He’s gotten a taste of the NHL over the past couple of seasons; if he can break through and become a full-time NHL player this year, he should be in line for a one-way contract a year from now. However, if he’s still bouncing back and forth between the two leagues or primarily playing in the AHL, then he’ll likely either get a two-deal again or be let go as a free agent.
The next prospect update will be on defenseman Jackson LaCombe.
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September 8th, 2023