After profiling two forwards, the third edition of the Red Wings prospect profile series will examine an up-and-coming defenseman: Xavier Ouellet.
Defenseman – France – Age 20
6-foot, ~200 pounds – Shoots Left-handed
Drafted 48th Overall in 2011 NHL Entry Draft
Strengths / Weaknesses
+ Hockey IQ, Effective Penalty Killer
- Strength, Size, Experience
Xavier Ouellet is making a name for himself by trying not to get too noticed. They say a good game for a defenseman is when you never realize he was out on the ice. Ouellet plays that type of game but is intelligent enough to know when it’s time to step out of that role to push the back-line to generate offense.
His two-way style has already made a quick impression with Mike Babcock as Ouellet found himself in the lineup for the final regular season game against the St. Louis Blues and even played a little over 9 minutes in the Wings last game of the season; Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs against the Boston Bruins.
The downside to Ouellet is very minimal. He is underdeveloped and needs more time to grow. For Ouellet to effectively make the transition from the AHL to NHL he needs to get bigger, faster, and stronger. He is smart enough to avoid running into turnover traps, but that means nothing if he is constantly pinned up against the boards and is getting pushed around.
- Keith Yandle (Phoenix Coyotes)
- Paul Martin (Pittsburgh Penguins)
- Brad Stuart (San Jose Sharks)
Fully developed I see Ouellet as the type of player that is solid on the backline yet will continue to creep into the picture on the offense end. That type of style, combined with handedness, and his size leads me to the comparisons to Yandle, Martin, anda smaller version of the former Red Wing Brad Stuart.
Ouellet has a long way to go to reach this elite level, but give him time. Remember he is only 20 years old.
RedWingsCentral.com: #3 rated Red Wings’ prospect
Hockey’sFuture.com: Potential second-line pairing
After Anthony Mantha and Petr Mrazek RedWingsCentral.com lists off four defensemen prospects with Ouellet topping the list ahead of Ryan Sproul, Alexey Marchenko, and Mattias Backman. While I don’t think he is the most NHL ready out of these prospects, I do believe he has the highest upside.
Therefore, I’m going to agree with Hockey’sFuture.com and say that Ouellet has the ability to become a top four defensemen in Detroit. Given that he gets enough time to fill out and eliminate some of the weaknesses described above.
It’s back to the AHL and the Grand Rapids Griffins for Xavier Ouellet. As much as Babcock might ponder the idea of bringing Ouellet up to replace a vacant spot if Kyle Quincey is let go, he just isn’t physically ready. But, that doesn’t mean we won’t see Ouellet this upcoming season.
Since this is the last year on Ouellet’s rookie entry contract expect Babcock to move him around from the AHL to NHL throughout the season to test him out. And who knows, if he excels during one of his call-ups then he could find himself in Hockeytown for a bit longer than anybody ever expected.
Other Red Wings’ Prospect Profiles
Let me know in the comments below which prospect you would like to see profiled next.
If you would like to receive an email notification each time a Detroit Red Wings story is posted you can fill out the Email Notification Form.
Read more Red Wings rumors, news and opinion on our Detroit Red Wings page.