Samuel Girard Makes the Cut – Love, No-LOVE
Samuel Girard has quickly become the Nashville Predators top defensive prospect. That is not easy to do considering they also have Alexandere Carrier, Jack Dougherty, and Dante Fabbro. To make it to the top of that list, one needs to be exceptional. Samuel Girard has been just that. Many teams had written Girard off by the time the 2016 draft had come around. They new he had the skill. They were just too concerned his size couldn’t cut it at the NHL level. Oh how they were so wrong.
Girard has spent the past two seasons dominating the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). While playing for the Shawinigan Cateractes, Girard amassed 149 points in 126 games played. He also had 31 points in 26 playoff games. He plays defense, y’all. The QMJHL is known as a pretty pedestrian defensive league. But, still. Those are impressive numbers no matter what league you play in.
The Predators decided to give Girard a serious look this preseason facing the first two months of the season without Ryan Ellis due to offseason surgery. Girard logged more ice time than any other defencemen on the team. He fared very well. Girard managed to be in the top five in both major possession metrics (Corsi and Fenwick). He also had a goal differential of +5. The fact of the matter is, Girard has exceptional skating skills that help him on both ends of the ice.
Even though he has made the opening night roster, don’t look for him to stay here long. He would not have to pass through waivers if the Predators sent him down. However, due to his status, he is only eligible to stay on the NHL roster, or go back to juniors. Additionally, if he is sent back to his juniors team, he would not be eligible to rejoin the Predators until his juniors team finishes their season. Another rule with his eligibility is he can only play nine games with the Predators before it counts as a full year on his entry-level contract. The Predators will only risk counting it as a full year if they believe he can cut it this season. I predict he will be back with the Cateractes in a couple of weeks.