Photo Credit: Cataractes de Shawinigan

Report: Canucks Have Signed QMJHL Free Agent Alexis D’Aoust to AHL Deal

Reports came out early this morning that the Canucks had signed 2016 Prospect Development Camp, Young Stars Tournament and Training Camp invitee Alexis D’Aoust to a contract. There was some confusion at first as to what type of deal it is, but News 1130’s Rick Dhaliwal seems to have clarified that with his statement here that it’s a one year deal with the Utica Comets.

D’Aoust was my personal favourite of the group of players that were invited to join the Canucks prospects at the 2016 Development Camp at Shawnigan Lake School last summer, putting on some mighty impressive dekes and dangles in the scrimmage and shoot out. He returned for the Young Stars tournament in Penticton, where I again thought he was one of the best unsigned prospects (save maybe for Marco Roy).

D’Aoust was then invited to the Canucks main training camp, and even participated in a pre-season game, but alas he was returned to the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes without a contract. Instead the Canucks elected to sign Michael Carcone to an Entry Level NHL Contract (he had a good rookie season in Utica) and Marco Roy to an AHL deal (he had a season mostly defined by healthy scratches).

D’Aoust’s production took a step back in 2016-17, going from 98 points in 68 games (1.44 points per game) in 2015-16 to 60 points in 50 games (1.2 points per game), which isn’t a great sign, but I’m still a fan, especially on an American League contract. One of the large differences for me between D’Aoust and say, Yan-Pavel Laplante, is that D’Aoust has been playing full seasons in the CHL since his draft-minus-one season, and has been producing at close to a point per game or higher since his draft-plus-one season.

The fall in D’Aoust’s production rate led to a corresponding fall in his statistical projection, from 9% last season in his draft-plus-two year to 2% this year. Abysmal, yes, and we don’t often expect players who are playing as overagers in the QMJHL to accomplish much, but D’Aoust’s on-ice numbers are particularly attractive. While D’Aoust was on the ice, the Cataractes scored a massive 70.8% of the 5-on-5 goals that occurred – that was the fourth highest ratio in the entire QMJHL, and two of the names above him are high end NHL prospects (Thomas Chabot and Daniel Sprong). His GF%rel of +17.6% was sixth highest in the Q. He has a pretty clear positive impact on his linemates, so there are some good signs here.

“Good signing by the Canucks,” Shawinigan GM Martin Mondou told Dhaliwal. “Alexis’ biggest asset is he can really shoot the puck. Straight line heavy set skater.” Mondou also noted that D’Aoust is a skill guy who wins 1 on 1 battles – all of these sound like boxes that Jim Benning and co would be looking to tick.

“I went to camp last year, I knew they were still interested. Very happy to sign in Van,” D’Aoust said. “I’m a fast skater and have a good shot, I go where it counts around the net and get the gritty goals. I am ready for pro hockey, I grew physically and mentally. My type of game is what they play in pro. I’m ready for it.”

D’Aoust will join the Comets this fall to try to work his way up to an NHL contract at some point.