By Round 6 of the 2018 draft, you knew what the Minnesota Wild were trying to accomplish. They were trying to bolster their organizational depth in two key areas: Center and Defense.
These were indeed two major needs for the Wild. With the graduation of Joel Eriksson Ek, there’s very little in the organization at center. Luke Kunin is a very good prospect, but it’s unclear if he’ll play center or wing in the NHL. Past that? The next guy is the 5’9” Mason Shaw, who just missed all of last year with an ACL injury.
And things were just as dire on the blue line, especially on the right side. Louie Belpedio is probably the Wild’s top prospect on defense, but it’s no sure thing he’ll be an NHL regular. After that, it’s a lot of defensemen with limited upside, like Nick Seeler, Carson Soucy, and Gustav Olofsson.
So Minnesota addressed those needs, taking Centers Jack McBain, Alexander Khovanov, Connor Dewar, and Damien Giroux. They bolstered their blue line by taking righties Filip and Simon Johansson.
With their cupboard restocked in those key areas of need, Minnesota’s scouts looked elsewhere in Round 6. With Pick 179, they selected a right wing named Shawn Boudrias.
Boudrias played in the QMJHL for the Gatineau Olympiques. He notched 28 goals on 195 shots, and added 32 assists, leading Gatineau in all three categories. 60 points in 60 games is pretty solid production in the Quebec league, and lines up with several Quebec league prospects selected in the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
Beyond his production, what makes you take notice of Boudrias is his size. At 6’4” and nearly 200 pounds, everything about Boudrias screams “power forward”.
And he plays that way, too. He’s ready to work hard to go to the net, and doesn’t mind dishing or taking a hit. While he has skill, most of that skill is in service of getting to the net. 17 of his 32 assists were primary assists, though that may have to do more with generating rebounds than his passing ability.
Minnesota has always coveted big forwards with skill, and Boudrias seems to be along the same lines of players like Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Alex Tuch, and Jordan Greenway. And with his production, he doesn’t even feel like much of a project.
Nice to see Shawn Boudrias picked by Minnesota, we had him ranked last year and this year as well. Best thing about him outside of being 6'5" is his production went up after Abramov left for Victoriaville.— Jérôme Bérubé (@Jerome_Berube) June 23, 2018
So, wait. If Boudrias is 6’4”, produced well, and has a gritty power forward game, why did he fall all the way to the 6th-round?
A big part of it seems to be the fact that Boudrias has already been passed over in the draft once. He was draft-eligible last season, but his production was not nearly as good for Gatineau, and his skills weren’t as refined.
While there are plenty of teams that aren’t afraid of overagers (Minnesota being one of them), they do tend to fall further in the draft than perhaps their production may warrant.
This could work against a player like Boudrias. That point-per-game pace may not seem so great if you feel he simply physically dominated younger competition. But that might not be the case.
You see, Boudrias is an overager, but he was the youngest player in last year’s draft class. He missed the cutoff for eligibility by only one day. For the sake of context, he’s only two days older than Brady Tkachuk, so it’s not like Boudrias was 19 playing against 17-year-olds.
Minnesota's picks haven't all rated that well by my stats model, but Shawn Boudrias at 179 does. Technically overage (born Sept. 14/cutoff was Sept. 15) but a 6-foot-5 point-per-game guy in the Q, which is good value this late.— Jonathan Willis (@JonathanWillis) June 23, 2018
Perhaps a bigger concern is his skating. There are some scouts that note that it’s fine for a larger player, and others question his ability to accelerate. Being able to move and react quickly in tight spaces is a concern for any player making his living around the net, so improving his burst seems to be a must.
But despite his overage status, and the concerns about his speed, this is a nice pick in the 6th-round. As badly as Minnesota needed to re-stock at center and defense, they lost a lot of organizational depth at the wing in the last year. Finding a large, skilled goal-scorer this late in the draft is intriguing, good value, and fills a need in the Wild system.