Pineault prepares for move to the QMJHL

By Aaron Vickers

“This is a kid that is loaded with
skills, talent and size. I watched him as a double underage player with
the U.S. U-18 team and he was the best player as an underager! But
then, all of a sudden, things started to slow down. Every year I’ve
seen him he starts to slow down a bit as the year goes on. This kid
could end up being the sleeper of this draft that someone really gets a
steal out of.”

-Anonymous NHL
scout to Hockey’s Future on Adam Pineault

The Columbus Blue Jackets saw something they had to have when it
came time for the 46th selection of the 2004 National Hockey League
Entry Draft. The only problem — the selection did not belong to them.
The Cinderella team of the 2004 NHL playoffs, the Calgary Flames, were
in the possession of the pick, a selection so valuable to Blue
Jackets General Manager Doug MacLean, that he sacrificed not only the
70th selection, but the 98th overall selection of the draft as well.

So who was the object of Doug MacLean’s eye? None other then Adam Pineault.

Described as a player with power forward capabilities, scouts have
often commented on Pineault’s lethal combination of power and balance.
Having just turned 18 in May, Pineault’s already impressive 6’1 193lb
frame will do nothing but get bigger, something that will compliment
his quick, soft hands and his heavy wrist shot. Although it appears
that Pineault is already in possession of all the skills to make him a
truly effective power forward, he did not get the chance to showcase
them over the course of the 2003-04 season, spent with Boston

The youngest player in Division I hockey last season, Pineault did not
have the success he had hoped over the course of his draft year. Prior to 2003-04, many scouts felt Pineault wouldn’t
last beyond the first 20 selections of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. By
the end of the season, many scouts decided that anything higher then
the third round for Pineault would be a wasted selection.

After taking an accelerated program in high school, Pineault entered
the college ranks early, hoping to make his mark at the next level of
his game. While many admired his dedication and hard work in achieving
his goal, they wondered if he’d made the jump too soon, being too
young and immature for the college game.

“I think he was caught in between where another year where he had
already played two years may not have helped him as much,” said one anonymous scout. “Conversely, he might not have been as prepared for
college as he should have been.”

On an Eagles team that already boasted a plethora of upperclassmen, finding ice time for the freshman was a difficult task to say
the least.

“It was tough to crack the line-up with that caliber of team,” Pineault told Guy
Flaming of Hockey’s Future before the draft. “I tried every day to get into the line-up but it
was kind of a numbers game. The main reason why it was tough to crack
the line-up was because it was a veteran team.”

Pineault, who had recorded a mere eight points (4-4-8) in 28 games with
Boston College, found himself watching from the stands come playoff
time. That wasn’t something that sat well with
Pineault, who up until this point in his career had always been the
go-to guy on each club he played for.

“That was the most frustrating part. It was bearable when we were
winning, but when we started losing that was when it got pretty tough
to watch,” remarked the right winger. “It was definitely frustrating to
watch from the stands when I thought that I should have been out there.”

Already on the cusp of being labeled a bust before the 2004 draft even
began, this slant on the youngster from Holyoke, Mass was difficult for
most to swallow, especially scouts that had seen him play since the
ripe age of 15.

“I’ve seen him since he was maybe 15 or 16 years old,” said an
anonymous scout. “He’s always been ahead of the curve.”

Up until his tenure with the Eagles of Boston College, Pineault has
found successes at every level. Even as a double-underager, Pineault
was described as the best player on the United States National Team
Development Program (USNTDP). During the 2002-03 season with the
USNTDP, Pineault, then 16, recorded an impressive 44 points (22-22-44)
in 56 games. This wasn’t the only team Pineault found success with,

Pineault has represented the United States at every possible
opportunity, never turning down his country. As a member of the US
National U-18 team, his club managed to go undefeated in the Four
Nations tournament in Sweden in 2002. He also represented his country
on several other occasions, including the U-18 World Championships held
in Yaroslavl, Russia in April of 2003, as well as part of the National
U-17 club that won the World Under-17 challenge held in Manitoba,

Pineault has even gone beyond the call of duty, requesting to be
released from Boston College to participate in the 2004 World U-18
tournament held in Belarus. Although being a healthy scratch throughout
the playoffs, Boston College denied his request, something that didn’t
sit too well with Pineault.

“It was tough not to be able to go over there because I wanted to play
hockey,” explained Pineault, “But at the same time, I made a commitment
to my team so it would have been tough to leave them too. I just wanted
to play hockey and I thought that would have been the best-case
scenario for me.”

Describing being unable to go as an ‘unfulfilled dream’, Pineault’s
discontent grew as he watched each passing game go by, something the
fiery competitor wasn’t at all used to. As Pineault’s character would
suggest, though, he is willing to do everything within his power to
make himself a better hockey player. It was for this reason that Adam
has opted to leave the ranks of college hockey, and is planning on
skating for a QMJHL team for the 2004-05 season.

“I decided to leave college and hopefully take a different path at the
draft and go from there,” admitted Pineault. “Depending on what my team
wants me to do, most likely I’ll be in Moncton. If I can earn a spot
somewhere that would be great too.”

Many believe the step from the college ranks into the Canadian Junior
hockey scene is a positive one for Pineault, who selected fourth
overall in the QMJHL draft in 2002. In fact, it is a decision some
think that Pineault should’ve come to one season earlier.

“Going to Moncton I think is a great move for him,” mentioned one NHL
scout. “He’s a big kid who is probably going to come in and have
success in the Quebec league.”

Make mention of the name Adam Pineault in a room full of scouts, and
you’re likely to get a different opinion out of each and every one of
them. One thing about Adam Pineault is clear, however, and that is the
Columbus Blue Jackets are looking forward to having him under their
wing. Described as possibly being the sleeper pick of the 2004 NHL
Entry Draft, General Manager Doug MacLean and Director of Amateur
Scouting Don Boyd are counting on him being just that.

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Guy Flaming contributed to this article. Copyright 2004 Hockey’s Future.
Do not duplicate without written permission of the editorial staff.