QMJHL: Alexandre Picard

By Phil Laugher

Alexandre Picard possesses many of the attributes that scouts
are immediately
drawn to in the search for a can’t-miss prospect. The 17-year-old
defenseman from the QMJHL’s Halifax Mooseheads is hard to miss with his
large frame. His hockey sense is very strong, with above average
offensive skills,
and his defensive play rarely is a problem. Yet, in spite of such
promise, there is
something missing from Picard’s repertoire that has prevented him from
being an
elite talent, and has led to a decrease in his value as a top end draft

Picard, a 6’2″, 205-pound native of Gatineau, Quebec, saw regular duty
for the
Mooseheads in the 2002-2003 regular season. Picard’s awareness at both
ends of the
ice aided him in playing regularly not only at even strength, but also
in special
teams situations on both the powerplay and penalty-killing units. There
are few
defensemen his age who are better at keeping the puck in the offensive
Whether it is jumping up against the glass to stop the puck, or diving
across the ice swatting at it with his stick, the little black disk
will rarely slip
past Picard at the line.

When he decides to use it, Picard’s shot is one of the hardest of the
QMJHL draft
eligible players, and can be very accurate. The key phrase, however, is
“when he
decides to use it”, as Picard chooses to pass much more often than he
shoots. His
apparent unwillingness to shoot when given the opportunity, especially
with the
powerful shot he boasts in his arsenal, can be remedied with improved
confidence in
the zone, and should come around in time. Though his passes are crisp
and generally
on the mark, he needs to shoot a bit more, in particular when
there is traffic
in front of the net.

On the defensive end, Picard is rarely out of position. Without the
puck, he is very
sound. He is strong at blocking up the passing lanes, and preventing
the easy
scoring chance. He could do a better job at tying up his man in front
of and behind
the net, but this is not a serious flaw in his game. His strong defensive positioning is also evident when
the opposition
is on the rush, as he almost always keeps the puck carrier to the
outside, driving
him deep into the corner rather than allowing him to carry the puck
into the slot.

Picard’s biggest sophomore weakness was actually one of the rookie
strengths that
had him rated so high for the NHL Entry Draft at this time last season.
physical game, which was one of his biggest strengths in his first year
in the
QMJHL, actually seemed to regress as the season progressed. In his
rookie year, few
and far between were the shifts where Picard did not throw a heavy hit
in the
defensive end. This year, it was vice versa, as there were few shifts
that Picard
actually threw a hit. In spite of his size, his physical game is not as
prevalent as
it was one year ago. This may be as a result of increased offensive
and defensive
duties, coupled with a fear of taking the stupid penalty (which,
however, Picard has
not been known to do, as he is very disciplined). Though he tends to
keep players
outside in the offensive zone due to strong positioning, he should
still feel free
to rub opposing players out along the boards when they try to get
around him.

Another part of Picard’s game that has taken a hit this past season was
his puck
carrying in the neutral zone. He will occasionally get into trouble
when he opts to
carry the puck out of the defensive zone himself against the
fore-check, instead of
looking for the outlet pass. That has resulted in a couple of turnovers
at inopportune times, with one such instance leading to an overtime
goal for the
opposition. In a hotly contested overtime match-up against the Val d’Or
Picard carried it out of the zone, cut towards the middle of the ice
and lost the
puck to a Foreurs player, who skated in unabated to score the overtime
Though this is a rare occurrence, this exact scenario has played out a
few times
this past year. One must remember, though, that Picard is only
seventeen, and these
mistakes are bound to happen, but are just more noticeable given his
stellar rookie

Picard, who moves on to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles for the
2003-2004 season as
future considerations to a January trade between Halifax and Cape
Breton, will
receive increased ice time, while playing for a contender for the
third straight
season. It will be interesting to see if he can regain his physical
play from his
rookie season, to compliment his already strong offensive and defensive

Projection: Third round pick, two-way defenseman