The QMJHL may have one of its best crops of NHL potential defenders in recent history.
One of the leaders for this group is Nicolas Meloche. A huge, tough as nails, defensively solid, potent offensively, do-all type defender who has a lot of potential, yet may be undervalued by scouts.
- Age: 17.16 years old at start of season. Born July 18, 1997.
- Birthplace: LaSalle, QC
- Frame: 6’3, 205 lbs
- Draft Year Team: Baie-Comeau Drakkar (QMJHL)
- Accomplishments: QMJHL Gold Cup Champion 2012-13, QMJHL All-Rookie Team 2013-14, Hlinka Memorial Gold Medal 2014-15, CHL Top Prospects Game 2014-15
|GP||ES G||ES A1||ES A2||ES Pts||ES Pts/GP||ES GF%||ES GF% Rel||TmG%||TmPts%||AA Pts/GP||EA Pts/GP||Adj Pts/GP|
- TmG% = Percentage of team goals a player scored in that player’s games played
- TmPts% = Percentage of team goals a player registered points on in that player’s games played
- AA Pts/GP = Age adjusted points per game
- EA Pts/GP = Era and league adjusted points per game
- Adj Pts/GP = Age, era, and league adjusted points per game
|PCS% 2014||PCS Pts/82 2014||PCS% 2015||PCS Pts/82 2015|
|PCS Most NHL GP||PCS Highest Pts/GP|
|Al MacInnis||Al MacInnis|
|Marc Bergevin||Eric Desjardins|
|Adam Foote||Bryan McCabe|
- PCS = Our Player Cohort Success model. Click here for more information about PCS.
A smooth skating defenceman who can put up points, utilizing his strength behind his shot, and plays with an edge. Has very good awareness on the ice, and notices possible scoring chances before they happen. Very intelligent defensively and makes high percentage decisions in his own end. When at the top of his game, Nicolas Meloche can be a game-changing, physical two-way defenceman.
He’s a competitor in every sense of the word. Defensively, he gets after you physically and gaining time or space on him is never an easy task. He’s territorial and combative. Very good with the puck defensively and offensively and his shot can beat goalies. He takes the initiative everywhere on the ice. With improved quickness and agility, his impact can be significant in the NHL.
Full disclosure, Nicolas Meloche is not just a good prospect, but one of my favourite “pet prospects” of the 2015 crop.
We at the Nation Network are pretty high on Meloche, which is why he comes in at 19, despite Craig Button being the highest on Meloche and only ranks him at 36.
Why are we (especially myself) so high on Meloche?
He’s the fullest package of the non-bluechip defenders in this draft.
At 6’3, Meloche is above league average and NHL defender height average. He’s already filled out a good portion of his frame at 205 but has room to get even stronger. He skates well for his size, even though he won’t burn many in a puck race.
He has a real nasty edge as well. He fights and hits. In fact, many consider him one of the better body checkers in the junior right now. Despite being a solid body checker who likes to hit, Meloche’s best asset is his intelligence. Meloche will rarely be caught running around or making a bad play just to finish a check.
Now all this sounds very typical of a stay-at-home defensemen; the type of player we analytical individuals tend to be wary of.
The difference is Meloche is also one of the best scorers in junior for his age group. Meloche’s age adjusted points per game is the third highest in the QMJHL among defensemen, draft eligible or otherwise. Meloche is extremely young but has been one of the league’s best scorers.
He’s also a shot-generating monster, leading all QMJHL defenders, draft eligible or otherwise, with 3.41 shots on goal per game. Only eight draft eligible forwards were able to generate more shots on goal than Meloche did per game, indicating that he’s highly involved in Baie-Comeua’s attack.
His PCS percentage of 35.8 places him as one of the safest defenders outside of the “blue chip” players like Noah Hanafin and company. He also comes with a high array of cohorts who have been high-end scorers and those who have been more defensive elites.
While anything can happen, Meloche seems to be a player who could end up like his ceiling comparables. He’s well known for his defensive game, but has also produced at a very, very strong rate. He’s young. He is nasty. He is very smart. And, he is an incredibly smooth skater. We like his chances at becoming a very good top-4 guy in the NHL.