Top-four defender with high offensive upside.
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February 2019 – We haven’t seen the fantasy breakout from Girard that fans know is possible – this season has been baby steps. His numbers in nearly every fantasy category (points, shots, PIMs, hits, blocks +/-) are all on nearly an identical pace to his rookie campaign. But, his TOI is up by 2 minutes, entirely fueled by increased even-strength usage. He’s on his way to becoming a more reliable d-man, and once he settles into bigger minutes and responsibility, he’ll get back to focusing on points. Hayden Soboleski
September 2018 – Girard put on 16 pounds over the summer but doesn’t look any slower or less agile in pre-season so far. He projects to pair with Johnson to start the NHL season, which will likely be the 1st even-strength pairing. His points and peripheral stats will see some improvement as he develops, but he wont see more PP time with Barrie around, so his room for offensive growth has a ceiling… for now. Hayden Soboleski
April 2018 – Girard didn’t disappoint in his rookie Avalanche season. He netted 20 points in 63 skates with the Avs (12 on the PP), and as injuries struck the blueline at the end of the year he wrapped up the playoffs playing roughly 22 minutes per night and not looking out of place. He still makes some offensive plays that are a little too risky but he pulls off his moves more often than not and is certainly a top-four d-man with powerplay-specialist potential moving forward. Hayden Soboleski November 2017 – Girard has been traded to Colorado as part of the three-way deal that sent Duchene to Ottawa and Turris to Nashville. Given the lacklustre performance of the Avs blueline so far, chances are he will slide into the lineup, bumping out one of Bigras, Lindholm, or Mironov from the current bottom-pairing revolving door. If so, he will become the second most fantasy-relevant d-man on the back end (in points leagues), at least until Makar and Meloche show up in the next year or two. Hayden Soboleski November 2017 —Injuries to Roman Josi and Ryan Ellis opened up a spot for Girard to be called up and get his feet wet in the NHL. In three games he has scored a goal and added two assists. On those nights when Girard has been dressed, he has been paired with Mattias Ekholm. The last two games he played in October, he was on the ice for almost 50% of the Predators powerplays. After Oct 14th, Girard has been scratched. It remains to be seen how the situation evolves. Barring another injury, it is likely that Girard will be sent down soon, before he reaches ten games in the NHL, that would burn a year of his entry-level contract. The Predators are not known for rushing their young defenders, in to the NHL. Niko Salminen September 2017 – The Roberval native continued to post impressive numbers in the QMJHL this past season. In 59 games he scored nine goals and added 66 assists for a total of 75 points. That’s one point more in 8 games less than he had in the previous season with the Shawinigan Cataractes. Girard also played six regular season games and two playoff games with the Milwaukee Admirals. During his brief stint in the AHL, he scored a goal and had a minus-7 rating. Most of his points are primary assists and a large chunk of them came on the powerplay. The way the Predators play fits well with Girard’s strengths. An elite skater with great vision and poise. He has the ability to transition the puck extremely well with his near-perfect passing. His shot needs more work, which at the moment is average at best. Many players tear it up in the juniors but fail in taking the next step and continue their scoring ways in the pro-level. One thing that works in favor of Girard, is the team that drafted him. The Predators aren’t afraid to give him a chance since they have been drafting smaller, skilled defenders in the past with success. Niko Salminen November 2016 – The Predators prospect is leading the QMJHL in defence scoring early in the season in his post draft year. He is a modern day NHL defenceman in that he excels at transitional offence. Girard makes precise breakout passes, leads and joins the rush frequently and uses his vision and anticipation to read plays and intercept the oppositions breakout passes as well. He has excellent skating ability which gives him an advantage in junior with his acceleration and mobility. Girard has very good edge work on his skates and makes the spin-o-rama move look easy. It is a maneuver he used frequently in my viewing and his puck control skills were very noticeable. While he pushes the pace of the play well offensively, he still makes some soft plays defensively. He seems to always be on the ice, unless it is a penalty kill. Tremendous fantasy upside, but a lot of work is needed on his game to play at the NHL level yet. Peter Harling July 2016 – A lot of scouts have varying opinions on Girard and if he will be an NHL defenceman. The reasons why he could are he is an elite offensive defenceman who scored 74 points in 67 games in his draft year. His passing ability, offensive vision and ability to run a power play are all exceptional. Where the doubt comes in is in regards to his size and defensive liability. With players such as Ryan Ellis playing a similar style at the same size and the NHL becoming more accepting of smaller players I am not as worried about the size. At 18 years old, he may not be done growing and he is not afraid to play a physical game. The modern day NHL defenceman must be able to transition the puck to offence and Girard seems qualified to either make precise breakout passes or lead or join the rush as a fourth forward. Girard may eventually turn out to be the best defenceman from the 2016 draft from a fantasy perspective. Peter Harling