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2021 NHL Draft: Zachary L’Heureux is a heel

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The Halifax Mooseheads forward is someone that is destined to get under the skin of opposing players.

Halifax Mooseheads v Blainville-Boisbriand Armada Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Some players were just meant to be a pain in the ass, and Halifax Mooseheads center Zachary L’Heureux is one of those players.

Someone that just absolutely loves to cause hell on the ice, L’Heureux hits bodies first and asks questions second. In an established program like the Mooseheads, it’s unique to see someone with such a distinct playing style and makes some neaderthalic grins come out from every single fan watching him skate around the ice.

The major question tends to be whether or not the supplemental discipline will get in the way of L’Heureux showing off the skill that he has, as he loves the extra curricular, post-whistle plays — he’s been suspended four times in the shortened QMJHL season, like damn. Whether he turns into a top-line power forward or dwindles into a bottom-six grinder, there is certainly reason to believe that he will make it to the top level.

It’s certainly a factor that as he moves up into the professional level, playing among men bigger than him, the physicality and fighting might lessen, getting him to lean on that goal-scoring and unique playmaking ability he actually has.

There’s not too much to think about when it comes to L’Heureux — he just simply enjoys all the extra part of the game that makes hockey what it is, and if you love physicality and seeing some dudes get absolutely rocked, then L’Heureux is the one you want the Wild drafting with one of their first-round picks.

Pre-Draft Rankings

#30 by NHL Central Scouting (NA Skaters)

#27 by Elite Prospects

#19 by Dobber Prospects

#40 by Scott Wheeler/The Athletic

#12 by Craig Button/TSN

What Scouts Are Saying

Despite an early-season surge in excitement around Zach L’Heureux that has partially subsided, the Halifax winger remains a type of player who offers a uniquely versatile skill set with exciting offensive upside. Stylistically, L’Heureux telegraphs between James Van Riemsdyk and Tom Wilson player types on a shift-by-shift basis, thrilling with his creativity and never-say-die mentality one minute, and demolishing a defenseman on the forecheck the next. His alluring intricacy and strength with the puck is a skill that for now, mitigates his lack of elite footspeed. At the end of the day, the unhinged nature of L’Heureux’s game could be both a blessing and a curse for the team who selects him. The range and flexibility of his projection in an NHL lineup, however, will surely motivate one organization to take on the challenge of breaking this colt.

-Brayden Olafson, Dobber Prospects

L’Heureux’s a lot to handle. He’s difficult to knock off balance. When he leans into his shot (which he does often), it whips off of his stick. When he’s ramped up and engaged, he’s a pesky, physical, powerful winger who can barrel at, or through, opponents to the middle-third of the ice. He can really impose himself on the game. But I’ve also seen him play games where he has a negative impact on play. I’ve been warned by two sources about his attitude — he was suspended this year for spitting on an opponent — and he’s got a short temper that puts him in the penalty box too much for my liking. He’s going to need to learn to play within himself and stay on the right side of a fine line. And while he possesses a lot of the tools teams look for in “hard to play against” middle-six scorers with skill, buyer beware. He’s going to be picked higher than this but I can’t seem to wrap my head around some of his actions.

-Scott Wheeler, The Athletic

So much of L’Heureux’s game is defined by his physicality. He’s an enthusiastic hitter, one who’s put more than his fair share of poor opponents into the boards or onto their asses. He’ll get under his opponent’s skin after the whistles. He’ll fight. He’ll mix it up. His problem-solving ability through secondary and tertiary defensive variables lets him make plays where others would struggle to retain possession

-Elite Prospect Draft Guide

L’Heureux is hard to miss when he’s on the ice. He’s a little fireball who is full of skill. He is a very imaginative puckhandler, with some of the best hands in the draft who can beat most defenders with his dekes. If he can’t get through someone with his skill, he shows no fear to lower his shoulder and barrel towards the net. He’s also quite physical off the puck and competes at a high level. For a 5-foot-11 player, he lacks the skating ability you’d like to see to separate from checks. The talent and production is great, but he was suspended several times this season, including for spitting on a player. In a sentence, L’Heureux projects as a middle-six NHL winger who will need to control his aggression.

-Corey Pronman, The Athletic

Would He Fit In With The Wild?

I think the need for someone that can possibly perform in the top-six, hoping that the physicality translates into solid defense and can score more goals as an upside, is certainly something the Wild want to address. There’s only so much Marcus Foligno can do and Jordan Greenway has somewhat disappointed with his lack of offensive punch, but L’Heureux would certainly bring something that no other Minnesota forward prospect has.

Could The Wild Get Him?

Despite some ranking him in the mid-first round, there is just a sense that he will be available at No. 21 at least, and maybe even at No. 25. It’s difficult to project though, especially considering scouts who have a bias for physical wingers and are seeing what Matthew Tkachuk is doing with the Calgary Flames would want him taken higher. It’s a tricky spot, but I would say there’s a 50/50 chance for him being there at the first chance the Wild have.

A Minnesota Relation

I already mentioned it, but maybe it’s a little bit of a Foligno, but not smiling all the time and not nice. Basically if he decided to go around and pick fights with every dude he sees.

There’s some offense there and capable playmaking, but it’s all about the physicality and dominating your opponent that way.

This draft board isn’t a ranking, it’s just the order in which we published our draft profiles and some guys we just wanted to write about.

2021 NHL Draft Board

  1. Owen Power — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  2. Matthew Beniers — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  3. Brandt Clarke — D, HC Nove Zamky (Slovenia)
  4. Luke Hughes — D, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  5. Dylan Guenther — LW/RW, Edmonton Oil Kings (WHL)
  6. Simon Edvinsson — D, Frolunda (SHL)
  7. William Eklund — C/LW, Djurgårdens IF (SHL)
  8. Kent Johnson — C, University of Michigan (NCAA)
  9. Mason McTavish — C/W, Peterborough Petes/EHC Olten (OHL/Swiss)
  10. Carson Lambos — D, Winnipeg Ice (WHL)
  11. Aatu Raty — C, Kärpät (Liiga)
  12. Chaz Lucius — C, USNTDP Juniors (USHL), U.S. National U18 Team (USDP)
  13. Cole Sillinger — C, Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL)
  14. Sasha Pastujov — LW, U.S. National U18 team (USDP)
  15. Jesper Wallstedt — G, Luleå HF (SHL)
  16. Fabian Lysell — RW, Luleå HF (SHL)
  17. Matthew Coronato — LW, Chicago Steel (USHL)
  18. Oskar Olausson — F, HV71 (HockeyAllsvenskan/Swedish)
  19. Corson Ceulemans — D, Brooks Bandits (AJHL)
  20. Fyodor Svechkov — C, Togliatti (VHL)
  21. Brennan Othmann — LW, EHC Olten (SL)
  22. Zach Bolduc — C, Rimouski Océanic (QMJHL)
  23. Xavier Bourgault — C, Shawinigan Cataractes (QMJHL)
  24. Olen Zellweger — D, Everett Silvertips (WHL)
  25. Isak Rosén — LW/RW, Leksands IF (SHL)
  26. Zachary L’Heureux — C, Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)