Bourque far from a finished product, but Stars see 'big point producer'
McDonnell touts the center's high hockey IQ, competitiveness as reasons why Dallas selected him at No. 30 overallby Mike Heika @MikeHeika / Senior Staff Writer
The Stars have been able to pick a bit higher than 30th in recent years (as they did Tuesday in the first round of the NHL Draft), so they definitely have to temper expectations for first-round pick Mavrik Bourque.
Just not too much.
While Bourque doesn't have the same pedigree as Miro Heiskanen (third overall in 2017) or Ty Dellandrea (13th overall in 2018), he does share some pretty good company with guys like Jason Dickinson (29th overall in 2013) or Jake Oettinger (26th overall in 2017). Because of that, the Stars like their late first-round pickup.
"His high hockey IQ was a big factor," said Joe McDonnell, the Stars director of amateur scouting, when asked what was the biggest reason for taking Bourque. "He's far from the finished product right now. He's a little on the slight side, he's going to have to bulk up. It's something that's going to take time, but in the end he's a big point producer and we just love the way he competes."
Bourque is a prospect that will need some marinating, but the Stars are still pretty geeked to get the slick right-handed center. He is coming off a season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in which he tallied 71 points (29 goals, 42 assists) in 49 games for Shawinigan. Scouts raved about his hockey sense, his ability to read games, and his skill. He is not big (5-foot-11, 185 pounds), and he's not seen as a speedy skater, but he has an innate ability to slow the game down and make the right decision.
NHL's Central Scouting had this to say about Bourque:
Video: Stars draft F Mavrik Bourque No. 30
"SKILLED FORWARD WHO PROCESSES THE GAME WELL. EXCELLENT PUCK SKILLS AND VISION. SMART OFFENSIVE INSTINCTS TO RECOGNIZE OPENINGS. QUICK TO GENERATE OFFENSIVE OPPORTUNITIES. DECEPTIVE SPEED AND QUICKNESS. CURRENT PLAYER COMPARABLE: BROCK BOESER."
That's pretty impressive. Most services had him slated to be in the 20s, so the Stars were happy to pick him up at 30.
"He was after 15, put it that way," said McDonnell when asked where the team had Bourque rated. "But we definitely didn't have him at 30."
Which means, they see good value. Bourque's 1.45 points per game was second in the QMJHL among draft eligible players, and they were a big boost from the 54 points in 64 games he had as a rookie.
Bourque said he is trying to learn every game, and understands he has to work hard.
"Since I'm young, I have had vision, but I like to watch hockey and I learn a lot of stuff when I watch hockey," he said. "It's a good mix and it's a good reason why I have hockey sense."
Video: Bourque on 'amazing' feeling of being taken by Stars
McDonnell said Bourque's upbringing on a farm in Quebec has helped forge a strong work ethic.
"He's up early every morning," McDonnell said. "He's farming. He goes to school, he comes back and he does more farming. He's a real competitive kid and he's really down to earth. Just the farming aspect was a big thing for him, too, with his work ethic. It shows on the ice, I think."
There's a good chance Bourque will stay in junior hockey for a couple of more years and might even need a year or two in the minors. That was the path for Dickinson, who made his first NHL step up at age 22.
"Once you get past that top 10, top 12 players, you're talking guys that are going to need time," said Stars general manager Jim Nill. "But that's part of the development process."
Especially if Bourque lives up to his scouting reports.
"He has high-end skill, high IQ and hockey sense," Nill said. "In the end, we're very happy we got Mavrik because of his overall skillset."
Rounds 2-7 of the draft begin at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday. The Stars will be picking 123rd, 154th, 162nd and 185th. Dallas traded away its second and third round picks in earlier moves.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Stars were doing the draft mostly from their homes on Microsoft Teams. Assistant GMs Mark Janko and Scott White were in the office in Frisco and announced the pick.
Nill said he was hoping to possibly trade back to pick up extra picks, but was unable to do so.
Nill said the team will announce qualifying offers for its restricted free agents on Wednesday.
The Stars have not yet announced injuries from the playoffs. That information likely will be delivered on Thursday.
2020 NHL Draft: Rounds 2-7
Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. CT
TV: NHL Network
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club.
Mike Heika is a Senior Staff Writer for DallasStars.com and has covered the Stars since 1994. Follow him on Twitter @MikeHeika, and listen to his podcast.