Today’s profile is on 6″1′ QMJHL forward Pascal Laberge, presently considered a consensus late first-rounder. There’s not much more to say on the matter than that. Let’s take a look at how he plays, his numbers, and whether or not the Leafs should be interested:
All in all Laberge is a pretty good player. His skating could be improved upon, but generally he’s got solid front-end speed and acceleration. He makes sound decisions with the puck and has a good wrist shot and passing ability. There’s a little something missing there though. While he’s a good puckhandler, he’s not exceptional at it, and for me that’s one of the big reasons I see him as more of a middle-six forward than a top-six forward if he were to make the NHL.
Here’s ESPN’s Corey Pronman on Laberge, who he has ranked 37th:
The former second overall QMJHL draft pick is a
highly talented and competitive forward. He brings a solid base of intangibles
to the table, shows a good work ethic every shift and doesn’t shy away when the
energy level ratchets up a few notches. Laberge is an above-average skater with
a very good top gear, which allows him to separate off the rush. He’s a
creative playmaker who can dangle and create the occasional highlight-reel
moment as well as consistently set his teammates up for scoring chances. He’s
not the best defensively, which is concerning as a center, but I see him as a
player trending upward.
One quick note: while Laberge plays some center in junior, he also plays lots of right wing. I think his style of play is more suited to the wing.
I’m lukewarm on Laberge’s game from a purely subjective perspective, but he’s got great numbers.
Here’s a stat for you: Laberge had a 1.12 points per game, which led his team. That’s fine, but certainly not head-turning. What is head-turning though is that in December his Victoriaville Tigre’s made a trade that involved sending Samuel Blais (who had a 1.33 points per game) to Charlottetown. Before the trade Laberge had a 1.03 points per game (31 points in 29 games played). After the trade? Laberge had 38 points in 27 games played, good for a 1.41 points per game. That’s very high production and gives merit to Pronman’s idea that Laberge is a player trending upwards.
As we can see, Laberge also stacks up well with other highly-touted players for the upcoming draft:
Laberge has good pGPS numbers as well. He has a pGPS n of 38, a pGPS s of 13, and a pGPS of 34.21%. His pGPS P/G is 0.6063, which would translate to 50 points over an 82 game NHL season.
SHOULD THE LEAFS BE INTERESTED?
Based on the eye test alone I’d prefer Laberge more in the second round, with names like Abramov and Mascherin still the preference at 29-30 and 31. His numbers, though, are that of a bonafide first-rounder. I like Laberge, and while I’d still prefer guys with more raw talent like Abramov and Mascherin, the Leafs could do a lot worse. He’d be a solid pick in the late first or early second.