Thursday, July 29, 2010

Boston Bruins Prospects Series: #19 Yannick Riendeau

Yannick Riendeau, RW
5-10, 180
June 18, 1988
Shoots: Left
Signed as a free agent, May, 2009
Signing status: Signed through 2012

Talent analysis

Physical: Small winger who is coming off an injury-riddled first pro campaign after dominating the Quebec league in scoring the year before. Needs to add weight and functional strength to his undersized frame. Below average skater who skates hunched over and has a choppy stride. Slow first step and only average speed. Excellent passer and shooter; has terrific hands and an ability to create something from nothing. Deadly in between the hashmarks, where he can get rid of the puck in an instant and has a very accurate shot. Tends to play on the perimeter when the hitting picks up. Not a physical player, but will take the hit to make the play. Played through a shoulder injury that required major surgery in the summer of '09 and forced him to miss the first three months of the season. Also injured his wrist during the '09 Memorial Cup tournament and then re-aggravated it after a few games with Providence, further setting him back.

Intangibles: Possesses elite offensive hockey sense; was a highly productive player in junior and even though an overage player at 20, scored 29 goals in 19 games in leading Drummondville to the '09 President's Cup as QMJHL champion. His 53 playoff points were as many as Mario Lemieux racked up with the Laval Voisins in 1984. Hard worker who is dedicated to being a player after being passed over in the draft despite being a high midget draft pick. Posted his career-best season while dealing with the pain of the shoulder injury for much of the 08-09 campaign; a gutsy competitor albeit a fragile one.

Boston Bruins 2010 Development Camp assessment
Did not attend

Riendeau is a flawed player as far as hockey tools go. His size and lack of skating ability get to the heart of why he wasn't ever drafted, but as far as his hockey intellect goes, he's right up there with the best prospects in Boston's system. It's very difficult to project what kind of impact he'll make in the NHL (if he even gets there), but history has shown that more than a few guys who didn't look like players coming out of junior or college became legitimate NHL stars (Adam Oates and Steve Thomas to name two). Will Riendeau follow a similar path? That's asking a lot, but given that the Bruins didn't spend a draft pick on the 22-year-old, then it's not a bad roll of the dice to take-- the team is playing with house money on this guy. Because he lacks speed and size, Riendeau probably can't be a bottom-six forward who is required to perform a grinding/checking role, so his immeasurables and outstanding passing/shooting/hands are going to have to take him into a top-six role at some point. Tall order, but in looking at his numbers and how he played in the Memorial Cup a little over a year ago, he's worth keeping an eye on.

“Yannick’s a very instinctive player. Can you teach the hockey sense side of things? Probably not; I think you can get players to become more aware during offensive situations, but the offense comes naturally to him. We’re excited that he’s the kind of player who reads the developing play so well and sees things on the ice others don’t.”- Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney to; January, 2010

“His first game was the best out of the ones he’s played. He showed some offensive touch, played well defensively and showed that he has some upside. His speed wasn’t an issue. He was moving his feet and staying involved in the play, and as long as he’s playing at that higher pace and skating, he’ll be fine at least at our level.”- Providence Bruins head coach Rob Murray to; January, 2010

Holding Pattern for Riendeau

The Final Word
At first glance, Riendeau doesn't look like he has a shot at being an NHLer given his lack of size and skating ability, but people said the same things about Mark Recchi, too. Riendeau's first pro season was a wash, but he showed flashes of promise and was a point-per-game player for Reading of the ECHL. If he can stay healthy, he should make a much bigger impact this year for Providence's fortunes. If not, he'll put up big numbers for the Royals. Either way, he's an intriguing prospect who has some real upside even if he's quite the longshot.

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