The Detroit Red Wings in the 2nd round of the 2012 NHL entry draft, drafted Xavier Ouellet. The 20-year-old, native of Bayonne, France signed a three-year entry-level contract going into the 2011-2012 season.
Ouellet played in 63 games and accumulated 21 goals for 60 points in the QMJHL the season after he was drafted. The following year he played in 13 fewer games and recorded 41 points.
During his time with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL, Ouellet was named a team captain after they relocated to Montreal, Quebec. He was also the team’s second scoring leader during his 2011-2012 campaign.
Offensively, Ouellet is going to be a defender with the mindset of a forward. He has an incredible amount of instinct to feed the puck to the proper outlet forward. He is poised at both ends of the ice, which is extremely prevalent and useful in today’s game.
The only struggles left for the French defender to figure out are within himself; his mental game. Whenever he is taken off of the top line, not contributing proper minutes on both the penalty kill and the power play, Ouellet is one player to get mentally stuck, which in turn, affects his game heavily.
A second issue with his game is the skating ability that he has. As a defenseman with a great deal of confidence to move the puck around the offensive zone, he needs to be able to transition quickly back to the defensive zone with strong skating. Ouellet heavily struggles in transition throughout the neutral zone.
Although the young defender has a couple aspects of his game that need improvement, he has done a stellar job of moving his way up the ranks to be able to make his way to a NHL debut.
Ouellet played in four games last season with the Red Wings and accumulated four shots and two penalty minutes. He also made one postseason appearance against the Boston Bruins, going minus-one with one shot against goalie Tukka Rask in the 2014 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Ouellet is one of those players that has the talent, the hands, the intelligence and the puck handling ability to make his mark in the NHL. The 2014-2015 defensive depth chart will be finalized when the preseason arrives, after Ouellet gets a chance to prove himself as NHL worthy.Regular Season Statistics: Montreal Juniors (QMJHL) 2009-2010: 43 GP, 2 G, 14 A, 16 PTS 2010-2011: 67 GP, 8 G, 35 A, 43 PTS Blainville-Boisbriand Armada (QMJHL) 2011-2012: 63 GP, 21 G, 39 A, 60 PTS 2012-2013: 50 GP, 10 G, 31 A, 41 PTS Grand Rapids Griffins (AHL) 2013-2014: 70 GP, 4 G, 13 A, 17 PTS Detroit Red Wings (NHL) 2013-2014: 4 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS
Austin Goodman is the host of Octopi Hockeytown for Impact Sports.