Benoit-Olivier “Bo” Groulx is a real coach’s player. That makes a mountain of sense, considering he’s the son of Benoit Groulx, the current coach of the Syracuse Crunch in the American Hockey League. The younger Groulx doesn’t have many high calibre skills that jump out at you (aside from a pretty dynamite wrist shot), but what he does do is play the game like a kid raised by a professional hockey coach. Groulx is the epitome of a safe pick at the draft – he’s not overly skilled, but he’s an exceptionally smart and noticeably diligent two-way all situations player. We’ve got Groulx ranked no. 72 on our Top 100 list because of a relative lack of upside, but it’s highly likely that he goes much higher than that, when a team feels the need to prioritize a safe floor over a risky ceiling.
- Age/Birthdate: 17.61 / February 6, 2000
- Birthplace: Gatineau, QC, CAN
- Frame: 6-foot-1 / 190 lbs
- Position: Centre
- Handedness: Left
- Draft Year Team: Halifax Mooseheads (QMJHL)
- Hlinka Memorial Gold Medal
Benoit-Olivier Groulx is a former first overall pick (2016) in the QMJHL Entry Draft, obviously coming into the league with some pedigree. He produced at a half point per game as a rookie, and showed off his leadership qualities by captaining Canada Red at the IIHF Under-17 tournament that year. This season, he progressed nicely offensively, and made appearances at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament and the CHL Top Prospects game.
|GP||G||A||P||SEAL||INV%||5v5 Pr INV%||5v5 eP160||Sh/Gp||Sh%||GF%||GF%rel||GD60rel||XLS%||XPR||xVAL|
Groulx was a fairly consistent scorer over the course of the season, never going more than four consecutive games without picking up a point. His 11 regular season multi-point games helped bump up his average when it was brought down by little mini-droughts, including a 4-point and 5-point game.
Adjusted Scoring (SEAL)
Groulx showed good production at even strength and on the power play, as well as chipping in a few short handed points. In each situation, he performed as more of a triggerman, either blowing one-timers by goalies on his off-side or banging in pucks in front of the net. His age is pretty close to the middle of the spectrum of eligibility, and, after all adjustments, his adjusted scoring rate ends up being pretty close to his unadjusted rate.
Groulx’s teammate plot raises a bit of a red flag for me. He has a 5-on-5 estimated points per hour of just over 2.00, and a 5-on-5 goal share in the black, both positive signs in their own right. However, with the exception of Arnaud Durandeau and 2019 eligible Raphael Lavoie, many of Groulx’s most common linemates had substantially point rates and goal shares. It would be a stretch to expect him to produce like Filip Zadina all the time, but it does beg the question of why he didn’t pick up more points playing with such adept offensive players.
Red dots on top in the GF WOWY chart typically spell trouble – they indicate that the player’s teammates do better without him than with him. This is the case with many of the players that Groulx most frequently shared the ice with.
As for production differences, there aren’t many wild swings. Notable observations include that Groulx’s point rate slips when separating from Maxime Fortier, while Fortier’s stays the same, and both Connor Moynihan and Filip Zadina were more efficient scorers away from Groulx.
Groulx’s fairly pedestrian numbers have led to a large cohort of potential matches that includes a wide variety of player types, and a couple former Canucks in Radim Vrbata and Michael Chaput. All told, pGPS predicts a 13% expected likelihood of success, a slight bump up from his 2016-17 XLS% of 10%. It’s good to see some year-to-year consistency, but this particular metric is suggesting a bottom six player worth a mid-round pick.
Benoit-Olivier Groulx is a well rounded player without any significant weaknesses, ranging between plus and average in most areas. In the plus column, Groulx’s hockey IQ, on-ice awareness and positioning stand out. Again, it seems logical that this is a result of being the son of a professional hockey coach. It also speaks well of his coachability, that he’s probable been getting used to high level instruction and strategy his whole life, and he appears to have soaked it up.
His other plus skill is his shot. His wrist shot is particularly threatening, heavy and accurate from in close and from range, and has played the point on the power play so a good degree of effectiveness both in Midget and Major Junior. His slap shot can do plenty of damage as well – he likes to set up in soft spots in the offensive zone for one-timers. Alternatively, Groulx can hurt opponents in close, fearlessly whacking in loose pucks at the net front.
His skating, on the other hand, has been a matter of debate. It’s garnered a fair amount of criticisms from various scouting services, and is often considered his only real weakness. In my viewings of Groulx, I certainly haven’t been blown away by his speed, but I haven’t seen it hamper him either. He keeps up with the rush, shows a high degree of agility, and does occasionally burst into a surprising bit of speed. Discussions with my fellow writers at CanucksArmy revealed similar observations, and research into past scouting reports appears to pull back the curtain on this issue.
In the season he was taken first overall at the QMJHL Entry Draft, HockeyProspect.com wrote “There are no major weaknesses in his game other than his skating, but it has improved a lot in the past year” in their QMJHL Draft Guide. The following year, HockeyProspect.com wrote “Groulx will need to improve his speed, which seems to be the one area of his that will need the most work” in their 2017 NHL Black Book. This season, Michael Sanderson wrote for McKeen’s that “Groulx’s skating has definitely improved since he entered the league as a 16-year-old. It was his biggest weakness coming out of midget, and he has progressed to an above-average skater at this juncture (read: relative to his competition in the QMJHL).”
Skating is still an issue that comes up today with Groulx, with a scout telling The Hockey News “the skating scares me a bit” (from their 2018 Draft Preview). One potential explanation for the disconnect between these reports and what we’re now seeing is that, although he’s improved considerably over the past three years, some scouts still have that vision of a slower Groulx nagging at them. I wouldn’t consider skating a weakness for the Groulx that we see now however, and it’s far more likely that he continues to improve in the area than it is that he regresses in any way.
Getting away from raw ability, Groulx is a player that NHL coaches and managers are going to love, which is why, as I mentioned in the introduction, I think he’s going to go well above the spot that we have him here. Groulx plays both centre and the wing, he can play in a shutdown role, he kills penalties, and he has a multitude of power play experience (as the point man, the trigger man, or the net front guy).
All that being said, his production has been a bit underwhelming, considering that he’s played a lot with the likes of Filip Zadina and Maxime Fortier this season, and with no. 1 overall pick Nico Hischier towards the end of last season. Groulx’s passable skill-set has allowed him to keep up with offensively dynamic players, he is not a dynamic player himself, and doesn’t really drive the outside of some unsustained individual bursts.
At the NHL level, he is more likely become a versatile third or fourth line player, with the ability to kill penalties and potentially shutdown skilled opponents. What does seem very likely though is that Groulx will play in the NHL. He has the smarts, the foundation, and the determination to get at least that far. We’re looking at a player without a particularly high ceiling, but with a pretty high floor – and those players get drafted in the second or third round.
|Consolidated||Average||Future Considerations||Hockey Prospect.com||ISS Hockey||McKeen’s||The Athletic||TSN Bob McKenzie||TSN Craig Button||The Hockey News||Sportsnet||ESPN||Dobber Prospects|
His hockey sense is top-notch and will be the leading attribute for him in the professional game. His attitude is good as well; he does not get too flustered in the heat of the game, and brings the right amount of controlled intensity, much like his dad, Syracuse Crunch head coach Benoit Groulx. A student of the game, he has made a home playing in every situation for Jim Midgley in Halifax, flanked with fellow talented forwards Filip Zadina, Max Fortier, Arnaud Durandeau and Otto Somppi.
From Future Considerations 2018 NHL Draft Guide:
A versatile forward, he has been busily improving his skating. He’s quicker to get to top speed now. Probably slightly above average in terms of speed and acceleration. Even though he lacks upper-body strength, he is very hard to push around when he’s moving around the boards. He creates a lot of turnovers, with a knack for picking pockets.