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Groulx impressing Ducks with skill, intellect

Center prospect lauded for attention to detail, competitive nature

by Dan Arritt / NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Benoit-Olivier Groulx grew up with a professional hockey coach at the dinner table. It's routinely evident in the way he plays the game.

Groulx's acute hockey sense and attention to detail on each end of the ice helped set him apart when the Anaheim Ducks were ready to make their second pick of the 2018 NHL Draft. They selected the 6-foot-1, 195-pound center from Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at No. 54.

"I'm a power forward with talent," Groulx told the Ducks website at the 2018 draft. "I like to play offensively. I'm even better defensively, so I think that's going to be a huge part for me in the NHL."

Groulx, 18, is the son of Benoit Groulx, coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning's American Hockey League affiliate in Syracuse. Those who scouted the younger Groulx say his father's influence shows in his heady style of play.

 

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"Just the way that he processes the game," said Todd Marchant, director of player development for the Ducks.

Marchant said many young players are consumed with improving their offensive game, but Groulx stands out in that he pays attention to every detail, from face-offs to defending his own zone.

"He digs in. He wants to win that face-off," Marchant said. "He wants to win the one-on-one battles down low in his own zone and that's something you usually have to teach a kid later on once they reach the pro level, and he's already got that in his arsenal."

Groulx was the No. 1 pick in the 2016 QMJHL draft. An ankle injury at the end of his first season kept him off the ice until he represented Canada at the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August 2017.

Martin Madden, the Ducks' director of professional/amateur scouting, said the injury may have affected Groulx's offensive production last season. He had 55 points (28 goals, 27 assists) in 68 regular-season games and eight points (two goals, six assists) in nine playoff games with Halifax.

"We see some offense coming from him," Madden said. "Hockey sense, skating ability, competitive drive, those are three most important things for him. He can shoot the puck and he has good skills as well, but those three are what defines him as a player."

Although Groulx had 100 penalty minutes last season, Marchant said that isn't a concern.

"I was actually kind of shocked to see that, but again he's a competitive guy," Marchant said. "I'd rather have a player that I have to pull the reigns in on then have to get a guy to be more aggressive. Definitely, another positive in his game is his competitive nature."

Like a lot of young players working their way toward the NHL, Groulx needs to work on his speed and quickness.

"Once he gets up to top speed, he's good, but quickness will be something he needs to work on, as well as getting bigger and stronger, just like everybody else," Marchant said. "But he definitely thinks the game at a high level."

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