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BLOG: Hlinka head coach saw Oilers draft picks' impact first-hand

Canada U-18's head coach André Tourigny praised Oilers draft picks Bouchard, McLeod and Rodrigue to Bob Stauffer and Oilers Now when speaking towards August's Hlinka Gretzky Cup

by Jamie Umbach /

EDMONTON, AB - Canada Under-18's and Ottawa 67's head coach André Tourigny gave his assessment Oilers prospects Evan Bouchard, Ryan McLeod and Olivier Rodrigue and their play in the OHL and QMJHL this past season to 630 CHED's Oilers Now on Monday afternoon.

Tourigny, who will serve as bench boss for Canada's National Men's Summer Under-18 Team at the upcoming Hlinka Gretzky Cup this August 6-11 at Rogers Place, had a first-hand experience viewing Bouchard, McLeod and Rodrigue from behind the bench of the Halifax Mooseheads in 2016-17 and in his first year as head coach for the Ottawa 67's this past OHL campaign.

"You couldn't miss [Evan Bouchard]. He was on the ice for 40 minutes," Tourigny said of the London Knights defenceman and Oilers first-round pick. "The poise is the first thing that comes to mind because whenever he has the puck he's always calm and in control. He moves the puck really well and has that push. He will fake a pass and then wait, wait and wait until the last second to make an area pass or tape-to-tape pass. He's really creative offensively, confident, assertive and he's not a small guy as well.

"The Edmonton fans will love this kind of defenceman."

Tourigny praised Oilers second-rounder Ryan McLeod as a fast presence on the ice for the Mississauga Steelheads, noting the team was fortunate to find a player of his talents outside the first round.

"It's true his team didn't have the season they were expecting, that includes him as well, but Ryan has a lot of talent," Tourigny added. "He's a little bit of a surprise for pretty much everybody to go in the second round. That was a little bit of a shock as he has first-round talent. He can skate, has good vision, skills, and size. He has the package to make it."

A former head coach of the Halifax Mooseheads, Tourigny had plenty of encounters with the Drummondville Voltigeurs and goaltender Olivier Rodrigue in the QMJHL.

"Olivier is another kid with a lot of poise," Tourigny said. "He's a calm goalie, doesn't move for nothing and is sound in his structure. He has the ability to be consistent. He's a game breaker. I understand why the Oilers moved up to take him. It was a bit of a surprise to see him there in the second round.

"He will need to grow into his body, get stronger and get bigger. He is a really good goalie."

Tourigny served as an assistant coach in the NHL with the Colorado Avalanche under Patrick Roy for two seasons (2013-15) before one year with the Ottawa Senators (2015-16). He previously spent 11 seasons with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (2002-13) and one season with the Halifax Mooseheads (2016-17) prior to joining the 67's.

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