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Getting to know Montreal Canadiens 216th overall pick Miguël Tourigny

Tourigny joins teammate Riley Kidney as a prospect in the Canadiens system.

Sherbrooke Phoenix v Blainville-Boisbriand Armada Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

With their last pick of the 2022 NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadiens decided to do something that has brought them success in the past. Looking to the QMJHL for a player who was passed over in the last two drafts, they selected defenceman Miguël Tourigny from the Acadie-Bathurst Titan.

Birthplace: Victoriaville, Québec
Date of birth: February 9, 2002
Shoots: Right
Position: Defence
Height: 5’8”
Weight: 172 lbs.
Team: Acadie-Bathurst Titan (QMJHL)

Tourigny was traded mid-season from the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada over to the Titan for four draft picks, a significant price for Bathurst in order to bolster their blue line. It worked out, as not only did he put up 40 points in the remaining 35 games to help them into the playoffs, he was a linchpin on their blue line in a dramatic comeback against the Halifax Mooseheads before bowing out against the powerhouse Charlottetown Islanders.

Elite Prospects

Eighty points through 65 games is excellent production from any rearguard, but the caveat for Tourigny is that he was older than his peers. Turning 20 just after his trade to the Titan, those 80 points are only less impressive due to his age. But still, he finished as the second-highest scoring defenceman in the entire QMJHL behind Vegas Golden Knights prospect Lukas Cormier.

Size is the main concern when it comes to Tourigny, as you don’t see many 5’8” players in the NHL at all, let alone on the blue line. It was presumably a big factor in him being passed over in both the 2020 and 2021 NHL Drafts, despite improving his point production significantly year-over-year during that timeframe. If his height started with a six, he most likely would have been in an NHL system after his first crack in 2020.

But he wasn’t, and now the Canadiens get a chance to find out if underrating him based on his size was a mistake. Some outlets actually had him ranked in the top-100 ahead of that selection, so there has always been at least some belief that his skills can help him overcome how undersized he is.

He plays a puck-moving game. He has above-average skating, hockey sense, and playmaking abilities. He is at his best in transition, where his quickness and his puck-handling allow him to create space and generate offence off the rush either on his own or by finding his teammates.

His best asset is easily his wrist shot, which has an extremely quick release, and he can place it wherever he likes. He uses this in favour of a slapshot at the point with great success, and it comes in quite handy with how often he likes to jump into the rush.

I got the chance to see him play quite a few times this year while keeping my eye on Riley Kidney, and his poise at the offensive blue line impressed me. He has a tendency to go for some risky pinches at times, but with how quick he is both with his feet and hands, he doesn’t get caught often.

At that same offensive blue line, when he doesn’t have space, he simply creates it. He’ll use his moves or feed off a teammate to get himself back open, or get the puck going toward the net. I was reminded at times of Samuel Girard when watching him. I don’t know if he can reach the heights of Girard, but he has some of the tools to get there with the right development.

The size concern shows itself primarily in the defensive zone, where he lacks the physicality to push opposing forwards off the puck. Transition is a major strength, but when he can’t get the puck to start transitions, it prevents him from even getting to what he does best.

He does have generally good defensive positioning, but unless he bulks up a fair bit, he will need to be paired with a more robust physical presence at the next level.

As is the case with nearly every seventh-round pick, the likelihood of becoming an NHL regular isn’t all that strong. But the Canadiens brass has been very clear about their desire to improve development above all else, and in Tourigny they’ve acquired an interesting project on that front.

I believe he can become a contributor for the Laval Rocket, particularly as a piece for them on the power play, and who knows what the future holds if things go well for him there. He has proven that he can put up points at the Junior level, and if he can do that in the AHL, the size concerns will suddenly begin to evaporate.