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The 12th overall pick in the 2016 QMJHL Draft, Xavier Bernard struggled as a QMJHL rookie in 2016-17. He put up just one goal and five assists for six points in 55 games while also finishing with a -16. He also failed to put up a point as the Drummondville Voltigeurs fell in a first-round sweep to the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada. Bernard broke out in his second season in the league. He put up 11 goals and 24 assists for 35 points in 66 games and improved to a +35. Bernard also added a goal and two assists for three points in 10 playoff games.
Bernard has represented Canada as a 17-year-old. He was a member of Team Canada Red at the 2016-17 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge. Bernard scored one assist in five tournament games. He also played in the CHL Top Prospects Game.
Xavier Bernard Scouting Report
Defence — shoots Left
Born January 6th, 2000 — Mercier, Quebec
Height 6’3″ — Weight 208 lbs [191 cm / 94 kg]
Bernard is a very good skater. He has good speed in both directions, which allows him to play a strong two-way game. His acceleration is also good in both directions. He has good edgework and pivots. Bernard is able to transition quickly from offence to defence and vice-versa. His agility, as well as his lateral movement, are very strong. This helps him to maintain good gap control and to keep attackers in front of him on the rush. Bernard also has a strong lower-body. He has excellent balance and is very tough to knock off the puck. Bernard battles hard in the corners and in front of the net. He keeps the crease clear, and he wins the battles for loose pucks.
Bernard is mostly known for his defensive work, but there is some offensive potential in his game as well. He has an exceptionally hard slap shot and one-timer from the point. It is one of the better point shots in this draft class. Bernard uses his lateral mobility to open up shooting lanes and successfully gets his shot on net and through traffic on a regular basis. He also understands how to keep his shot low, which leads to rebounds and tip-ins for teammates.
Bernard is also a very good passer. He is very good at hitting the open man and starting the transition game out of his own end of the ice. Bernard can skate the puck out of danger, but isn’t the type to rush it up the ice. While playing the point, he is poised with the puck and makes smart passes to teammates. He has not seen a lot of power play time to this point in his junior career, but could definetely handle more. Expect to see Bernard’s point totals increase when this happens. He has the ability to do more at the offensive end than he has done to this point in his junior career.
Bernard is a strong defender. His strong skating and lateral agility make him tough to beat in one-on-one situations. He positions himself well and he uses a long stick to cut down passing lanes. Bernard keeps himself between his man and the net. He is physical in defending against the cycle game as well as clearing the front of the net. Bernard is also capable of throwing a big hit. He is disciplined and does not take a lot of penalties despite this physical game.
Projection and Comparison
Bernard has the potential to be a top-four defenceman at the NHL level. There are some areas that he will need to continue to improve. He needs more opportunities to see how his offensive tools will translate with more power play time. He also can stand to continue to add muscle to his frame and continue to refine his defensive game as he moves to higher levels. There is a potential top-four defender her. Bernard’s game is similar to Aaron Ekblad, however, this is a stylistic comparison only and not one based on skill and ability.
The following is a compilation of some of the highlight packages and features of Xavier Bernard that are available on youtube.
Check back tomorrow for the next prospect on our draft board.
Embed from Getty Images
GUELPH, ON – JANUARY 25: Xavier Bernard #55 of Team Orr skates against Team Cherry in the 2018 Sherwin-Williams CHL/NHL Top Prospects game at the Sleeman Centre on January 25, 2018, in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Team Cherry defeated Team Orr 7-4. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images Sport)