Hockey runs in Xavier Bouchard's blood.
His father, Giles, was a longtime player in Canada and then was a coach and general manager. A father's influence has been key for his son, now one of the newest members of the Vegas Golden Knights system.
"He's been by my side since I was really young," Xavier said. "He's helped me out a lot over the years."
Not that there's any family competition, but the younger Bouchard's next step is to do what his father did not: make an NHL team. The 18-year-old defenseman has begun that journey as a sixth-round pick of the Golden Knights in the 2018 NHL Draft (185th overall).
"I'm really excited to join the organization," he said. "Vegas had a really great run this year so I'm really looking forward to getting to know everyone on the staff."
The Rouyn-Noranda, Quebec, native was selected in the 2016 Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Entry Draft by the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. After being named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team his first season, Bouchard was an alternate captain last season.
He scored 21 points (three goals, 18 assists) in 65 games. Baie-Comeau was eliminated in the first round of the QMJHL playoffs by the Halifax Mooseheads in five games.Bouchard likes to partake in the offensive zone as much as he can when he's on the ice. He said his skills are solid as a two-way defenseman. His biggest area of improvement going into development camp and beyond is his mobility.
"I still need to improve my game a lot," he said, "because the NHL is really fast-paced. But I'm sure I can bring a lot of great things to Vegas."When he first arrived at development camp in Las Vegas, he and the rest of the players attended a community event with Catholic Charities to help feed the hungry. The next day, he was on the ice.
"It was good to get on the ice with the guys and get to know them." Through camp, Bouchard had a great experience working with his fellow draftees, the coaching staff and being in Las Vegas for the first time. "I loved it and everything about it. It was great to see the city, get to know the guys and it was a great experience.