Nashville Predators: L’Heureux Could Provide Future Spark

SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY - JULY 23: With the 27th pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Nashville Predators select Zachary L'Heureux during the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft at the NHL Network studios on July 23, 2021 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
SECAUCUS, NEW JERSEY - JULY 23: With the 27th pick in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Nashville Predators select Zachary L'Heureux during the first round of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft at the NHL Network studios on July 23, 2021 in Secaucus, New Jersey. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /
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Until the second half of last season, the Nashville Predators had lacked an identity for the past several seasons. While they have moved a little closer to recapturing the “Predator Way,” they still have a ways to go.

Even though the Predators are in the midst of a “competitive rebuild,” a term coined by GM David Poile, they are still looking to play a tougher game and making Bridgestone Arena a feared place for other teams to visit.

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The NHL Entry Draft provides teams with young hopefuls that could possibly have an impact sooner rather than later. With the 27th pick in the draft, the Predators selected forward Zachary L’Heureux, a player who may help bolster the identity path they now find themselves on.

L’Heureux brings a set of skills that the Predators continue to seek. If only he were ready to jump to the NHL now.

L’Heureux’s ability to score and willingness to fight for pucks in front of the net could provide Nashville with not only some offense but some much-needed grit.

And grit appears to be something that L’Heureux has in spades, maybe to a fault. He has been compared to Brad Marchand, a comparison that has both good and bad points.

Last season for the QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads, L’Heureux tallied 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists) in 33 games played. During his 2019-20 season with the QMJHL Moncton Wildcats, he scored 53 points (20 goals, 33 assists) in 55 games.

"“take anyone in the Draft, if you put one puck in the corner, I’m going to get out with the puck. I’m going to win the battle.”"

These numbers speak volumes about L’Heureux’s intensity and will to win. Many will ask why a player of his caliber dropped down to the 27th pick.

L’Heureux was suspended four times last season for a myriad of different offenses, including flipping off fans. Some view this behavior as fiery competitiveness. Others see it as a problem.

L’Heureux’s ability to score and his willingness to protect teammates and fight at the drop of a hat makes him, like Marchand, a player you love to have on your team but would hate otherwise.

Development From The Nashville Predators Is Needed

There is no doubt had L’Heureux not been suspended so many times last season that he would have drafted higher than 27th. He has the numbers and skill to back up that claim.

With the Predators’ recent swing to a more defensive and tough style of play, L’Heureux is exactly the type of player that Poile and Head Coach John Hynes is looking for. And, quite frankly, he is a player that they need.

It will be up to L’Heureux’s development coaches to temper the fire within him a bit before he jumps to the NHL in a few years. It is one thing to take up for your team when warranted. It is another thing entirely when you can’t keep your cool and take unnecessary penalties.

L’Heureux will need to get his emotions under control, channel his competitive fire to his game instead of losing his temper, and choose his battles wisely. If he can do all of that, he could be a force to be reckoned with when he finally dons a Predators jersey.

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