NHL Mock Draft 2020: Montreal Canadiens select Mavrik Bourque with No. 16 pick

Montreal adds a smart shooter in SB Nation’s annual mock draft.

With the 16th overall pick in the 2020 SB Nation NHL Mock Draft, Eyes On The Prize selects, from the Shawinigan Cataractes of the QMJHL, Mavrik Bourque!

Each year, as is tradition, the SB Nation NHL sites make the first-round pick of their respective team. Sometimes the choices are easy, but the further you move down, the larger the pool of options extends, and the harder the exercise becomes. After months of research, and then some more months of research, we reached a consensus.

Mavrik Bourque is EOTP’s player.

  1. Alexis Lafrenière (New York Rangers)
  2. Quinton Byfield (Los Angeles Kings)
  3. Lucas Raymond (Ottawa Senators via San Jose Sharks)
  4. Tim Stützle (Detroit Red Wings)
  5. Marco Rossi (Ottawa Senators)
  6. Jamie Drysdale (Anaheim Ducks)
  7. Cole Perfetti (New Jersey Devils)
  8. Anton Lundell (Buffalo Sabres)
  9. Alexander Holtz (Minnesota Wild)
  10. Seth Jarvis (Winnipeg Jets)
  11. Dawson Mercer (Nashville Predators)
  12. Jack Quinn (Florida Panthers)
  13. Yaroslav Askarov (Carolina Hurricanes via Toronto Maple Leafs)
  14. Jake Sanderson (Edmonton Oilers)
  15. William Wallinder (Toronto Maple Leafs vai Pittsburgh Penguins)
  16. Mavrik Bourque (Montreal Canadiens)

At this point in the draft, there wasn’t going to be a prospect who would change the face of the team immediately, or even one who could do it the year after. We could have taken shortcuts, players like forward Dylan Holloway or defenceman Kaiden Guhle should feature on an NHL lineup in 2021-22. They developed physically earlier than their peers, project to skate at an above-average level, and enjoy rubbing shoulders. In other words, they can sooner resist the grind of the top league in the world.

Bourque will likely arrive at least year later in the NHL. Before making the jump, he has to discover the limit of his skills, and work on his skating to push it to NHL average, on his motor, and on the consistency of his defensive game. But he is on a trajectory to surpass Holloway and Guhle.

If his weaknesses sound familiar, it’s because a lot of them were Nick Suzuki’s in his draft year. Bourque is a better shooter, but he lacks the ability of the current Habs centreman to freeze and beat defenders one-on-one. But, really, how often does that happen in a game? Above all, Suzuki is effective because he anticipates open spaces, supports teammates, and makes the optimal play more often than not. Bourque does all of that, and in time he will also do it at the NHL level.

Picking at 16th, even if the game-breakers have left the board, you still want a player whose brain can keep up to the speed of NHL hockey, who can carry a line, and who has a track record of improving.

Looking at the available players, there was Rodion Amirov, the Russian rushing machine, a top skater in the draft, and one capable of using speed offensively and defensively. But while Amirov beats Bourque in pure tools — they’re more precise and robust — he doesn’t seem capable of using them to their full potential. Amirov is also older and closer to the player he will be in the NHL.

2020 NHL Draft prospect profile: Rodion Amirov

There was Jacob Perreault, a scorer and one of the prospects who should most improve in the skating department over the next few years. He’s also very toolsy. But if you are to aim into that kind of player, Amirov’s game is easier project to the NHL.

2020 Draft Profile: Jacob Perreault may be the best shooter in the class

And so is Kaiden Guhle’s. You know the defenceman will bully top players.

Draft profile: Kaiden Guhle plays a stifling defensive game

And there was the enigmatic Hendrix Lapierre. Unfortunately, even if you remove the injury questions, Lapierre’s game remains filled with questions of translability. He can fly with crossovers and make defenders look foolish from time to time, but he didn’t manage much of anything else in his limited games. He needs to attack inside ice more, develop as a shooter, and make better decisions with the puck. Although Lapierre’s four-point opening game last night could be the start of a terrific comeback season, over the course of the last campaign, Bourque showed more than his counterpart in almost all facets of play.

Draft profile: Hendrix Lapierre will be one of the biggest gambles

Over the course of the past two seasons, the Shawinigan Cataractes right-handed centreman became the beating heart of the team. From being a pure scorer, he developed into a dangerous dual-threat attacker. From a supporting offensive player, he became a driver, a player capable of attracting defenders, holding on to the puck under pressure, and quickly finding outlets. When he was injured late in the year, the Cataractes’ offence stopped flowing. The connection between the back end and forwards was weakened and the group collectively lost a step because Bourque was no longer there to prop them up.

Mavrik Bourque wears #22 with the Shawinigan Cataractes

So let’s go down the list.

Hockey sense? Check.

Ability to make linemates better? Check.

Consistent improvements? Check.

Room left to evolve? Check.

High-upside tool (his shot)? Check.

Bourque should add more than his share of goals for the Montreal Canadiens, both at five-on-five and on the power play. He can release deceptively and off passes in very limited space in the slot. He has the board skills, the feel for puck-protection of a solid winger, but also the ability to read, support, and connect of an effective centreman. He could play either position.

He won’t become the main puck-carrying threat on a line, but he could open space for speedier linemates to exploit. Nor will he push the pace at the NHL level, but he should be able to manipulate it to make defenders fall out of rhythm and position.

Even if the prospect’s upward development curve starts to flatten, even if he doesn’t become a top-six dual-threat driver, a future where he extends his offensive awareness to his defensive game and still turns into a positive NHL contributor is more than conceivable.

For all of those reasons, our discussion for the mock draft ended with the selection of Bourque.

Of course, if Dawson Mercer or Seth Jarvis had still been available, maybe we would have headed in a different direction. Both of those players possess elusive skills and the ability to fully use them. Or maybe Bourque’s cleverness would have won out anyway.

Truthfully, at the real draft, if the Habs decide to keep the pick, there are plenty of players with top-four or top-six upside to choose from. Be it Bourque or someone else, the team will acquire another solid building block of its future.

The history of Eyes On The Prize’s SB Nation NHL Mock Draft selections

2020: Mavrik Bourque (16th)
2019: Thomas Harley (15th)
2018: Filip Zadina (third overall)
2017: Urho Vaakanainen (25th)
2016: Tyson Jost (ninth)
2015: Thomas Chabot (26th)
2014: David Pastrnak (26th)
2013: Josh Morrissey (25th)
2012: Mikhail Grigorenko (third)
2011: Mark Scheifele (17th)
2010: Ryan Spooner (27th)
2009: Scott Glennie (18th)

Given who was left on board, who would your pick be at 16th overall?

Rodion Amirov105
Mavrik Bourque81
Brendan Brisson5
Kaiden Guhle59
Noel Gunler19
Dylan Holloway76
Hendrix Lapierre184
Jacob Perreault77
Lukas Reichel38
Braden Schneider35
Connor Zary77
Other (make your case in the comments)7

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