QMJHL: Profile of Patrice Bergeron

By Phil Laugher

Much of the pre-NHL Draft hype surrounding the roster of QMJHL draft eligible players centers around Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Team Canada WJHC goaltender
Marc-Andre Fleury, and deservedly so. Fleury will undoubtedly be the highest
selected Quebec League player, most likely drafted within the first couple picks in this Saturday’s Entry Draft in Nashville.

The bulk
of the
remaining pre-draft talk centers primarily around the host of large
forwards in the
2003 QMJHL draft class – the likes of Moncton Wildcats forward Steve
Bernier (6’2″,
229 pounds), Rimouski Oceanic forward Marc-Antoine Pouliot (6’2″, 180
pounds),
Halifax Mooseheads (now Cape Breton) forward Marc-Andre Bernier (6’3″,
200 pounds),
and Montreal Rocket (now PEI) forward Maxim Lapierre (6’2″, 180
pounds). One name
that seems to slip below the radar is that of Bathurst Titan forward
Patrice
Bergeron
.

Bergeron is slight (only 6’0″, 178 pounds), but size is not a concern
with this
gifted forward from Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec. He may not be large, but
he is not
afraid to get his nose dirty. What Bergeron lacks in size, he more
than makes up
for in skill. In his first full season with the Titan, Bergeron
registered a very
solid 23 goals, and a rookie-high 50 assists, playing on the
high-powered northern
New Brunswick squad’s second line. His 73 points put him second in
rookie scoring
behind Halifax Mooseheads forward, Czech wunderkind Petr Vrana. After
a short
tryout stint in the 2001-2002 season, Bergeron, Bathurst’s fifth-round
QMJHL Midget
Draft selection in 2001 was immediately thrust into prime ice with the
Titan.
Bergeron saw ice-time in many key situations during the regular season,
and was
battle-tested by the time the playoffs rolled around.

He centered the team’s most dominant line in the playoffs, despite being
filled with players of relatively little fanfare, especially playing
behind the
high-profile line of Janis Sprukts, Olivier Fillion, and Jonathan
Ferland. He and
his line-mates Michael Tessier and Karl Fournier surprisingly lit up
the scoring
charts in the playoffs, combining 14 goals, 28 assists in only eleven
games, with
most of those points coming against stalwart defensive specialists, the
Halifax
Mooseheads, in the second round. Though the Titan eventually bowed out
to Halifax
in seven games, Bergeron and his line never quit until the final
whistle.

Throughout the season, Bergeron was counted on greatly for his face-off
expertise.
During much of the year, Bergeron’s face-off success rate was
amongst the league leaders in the 60-65% range. In the playoffs, his
stellar
success in the face-off circle continued, where through the first nine
games,
Bergeron’s success rate was a superb 67% (though his percentage fell of
drastically
to 55% after two poor final games against Halifax). Face-offs are most
definitely
one of Bergeron’s biggest strengths.

With above average speed, and great offensive awareness, Bergeron can
is a very
dangerous and dynamic playmaker, seeming to always spot the open man.
Having
numerous passing options was very important for him, and he had plenty of targets
playing on the team with the fourth best offense in the league. His
passing leaves
many onlookers in awe.

Next season will be a very big test for Bergeron’s maturity level and
leadership, as the Bathurst Titan will likely not be such a dominant
force in the
standings. With Fillion and Sprukts moving on to higher levels, and
his two
line-mates Tessier and Fournier heading to the Cape Breton Screaming
Eagles as
future considerations to a trading deadline deal between the two teams,
Bergeron
will be not only be expected to carry the brunt of the offensive load,
but will have
to. As of this moment, he does not have the targets to pass to next
season. The big
question heading into next season is whether his high rookie numbers
were the real
deal because of his great skill set and desire to succeed, or whether
they were
inflated as a result of playing on a strong offensive hockey team. Also,
there is the
question as to whether his play and stats will suffer as a result of
having less
experienced teammates to get the puck to.

Though his relatively poor performance late in the past season’s
playoffs may have
only been a minor hiccup in his play and not the norm, one has to
wonder whether
Bergeron is a big-game player or not. While it may be too early to
tell either way,
and he still has several years of junior hockey left to prove himself,
his offensive
and face-off success nosedive in the final two games of the
Halifax-Bathurst series
undoubtedly had a negative effect on the potential for success for the
Titan.
Winning only ten draws in 38 attempts, coupled with just a single point
(and a -2 rating in game seven alone) in two must-win games does leave
questions open
in regards to his finishing drive, especially given his previous
successes and
offensive production in the earlier games. Of course, it is possible
that he just
had a couple of off nights, and that this is nothing to be worried
about in the
least.

Regardless of his past long-term successes and brief inadequacies,
Patrice Bergeron
will shoulder a massive load for the Bathurst Titan in the 2003-2004
season. Given
his skill set, he should make any NHL scouting staff that uses their pick
on him very
happy in the future.

Projection: late-second, early third round pick. Two-way
forward.

Statistics:

SeasonTeamGPGAPPIMPlayoffsGPGAPPIM
2001-2002Bathurst
Titan
40110
2002-2003Bathurst
Titan
70235073641169156