One of our favorite prospect resources here at The Copper & Blue is The Scouting Report. We've talked to their scouts at various points throughout the season and they've given us detailed scouting reports on Ryan Martindale, Olivier Roy and Curtis Hamilton.
We've gone back to the well for a look at Acadie-Bathurst defenseman Jeremie Blain, the Oilers 4th round pick (#91 overall) in the 2010 NHL entry draft. Blain finished the season on a tear after returning from an early season foot injury, scoring nearly a point per game in his final 40 games. Blaine's play helped spur the Titan to a 6th place finish in the QMJHL regular season and Acadie-Bathurst will face off against the Victoriaville Tigers in the first round of the Q playoffs. Blain wears an 'A' for the Titan and fashions his game after Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang.
We spoke with The Scouting Report's QMJHL scout, Alex Arsenault about Blaine. Arsenault scouted Olivier Roy for us in November and delivered this report shortly after watching Blain skate against Moncton on Sunday, a roungh and tumble game won by the Titan 7-1.
Copper & Blue: We've talked about Acadie-Bathurst before, during your scouting report on
Alex Arsenault, The Scouting Report: This is still the case however they have made a few additions, most notably forward Marc-Olivier Mimar from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar and defenseman Garrett Clarke from the Shawinigan Cataractes.
C & B: What sort of defender is Blain? What kind of game does he play?
TSR: Blain is an all around defenseman. He makes a very good first pass out of the zone which helps his team on the counter attack. The Titan are a good counter attacking team and Blain gets quite a few assists off of those passes out of the zone.
C & B: Blain is 6'2", 190 lbs - does he use his size effectively or is he more of a finesse defender?
TSR: Blain will not "wow" you with his physical play but I noticed a bit of physicality in the corners. On a few occasions when he lost the puck in the corner it brought out a mean streak in him and he used it size and strength to his advantage without going over the line for a penalty. I would like to see him have that mean streak more often and he could turn into a solid two-way defenseman.
C & B: He's been described as a having a mean streak at times. Have you seen this aspect of his game?
TSR: I should have probably read all questions before answering but as I mentioned in the previous question, I have noticed it. Unfortunately it was only when he made a mistake that this mean streak came out. If he only gets motivated when he makes mistakes he won’t be able to play at the pro level. On one play he turned the puck over and cross checked Moncton Wildcats forward Daniel Pettersson in the back twice earning him a 2 minutes penalty but if he can eliminate indiscipline penalties and play physically more consistently he would be a much more effective player.
C & B: One of the questions Oiler fans have is how in the world did he last until the fourth round? He's got size, puts up points, and his skating is very good. Was his defensive coverage really so poor that he slid so far?
TSR: The thing with defensemen like Blain is that they don’t excel at anything and in my opinion this causes him to not stick out over anyone. In the NHL Draft picks in the 3rd to 7th round range are usually made based on one scouts major opinion. For example, the Oilers sent a lot more scouts to watch Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin than Blain so it’s already a lot harder for Blain to stick out but it’s even harder for him to stick out being an all around defenseman that doesn’t have the best skating ability, best shot or best defensive zone coverage. Luckily for him the Oilers scout that covers the Q really liked his game and saw the potential he has.
C & B: You've seen Blain quite a bit over the last two seasons. Has he noticeably improved since last season?
TSR: He has definitely improved, most notably in the defensive zone. He had a major injury in only his second game back from Oiler’s camp and missed most of the season but that hasn’t seemed to hinder his development much. He didn’t miss a beat and his impact was immediately felt as Bathurst got hot when he was re-inserted into the lineup.
C & B: Blain is an impressive player at even strength (a bit over .5 P/G) and he's been outstanding on the power play (nearly .5 P/G). Is he a primary focus on the power play or is he getting his points by getting the puck into Levesque's hands?
TSR: He’s on the first power play unit and is a good passer so it’s only natural that he gets a lot of PP points. One thing I liked is that he puts a lot of pucks towards the net. They are low chance shots but very effective for rebounds and deflections because he has a nice wrist shot. In his most recent game he had 3 shots that were nearly deflected in for a goal. Blain has realized that a big booming slap shot isn’t always the most effective way to get the puck to the net. Especially against an aggressive penalty killing team like the Moncton Wildcats who like to block a lot of shots.
C & B: Is coach Real Paiement using Blain on the penalty kill and is he effective?
TSR: Yes, coach Paiement plays Blain in all situations including the penalty kill. He has a good active stick to try and block the passing lanes but I would still like to see him use his size to clear the front of the net a bit more.
C & B: I was crunching some numbers for an article and determined the following: "He played the first two, then missed the 28 games due to injury and the Titan went 17-11 with a +.606 goal differential per game. In the 32 games since Blain's return from injury, the Titan have gone 21-11 with a +1.214 goal differential per game." Does he have an impact on the Titan worth over half of a goal or that a sample size fluke?
TSR: If you look at the strength of schedule in those games I’m sure you will see that Blain’s return wasn’t the only factor but facts are facts. Blain’s return really sparked the Titan. Adding a solid all around defenseman who can eat up big minutes at the age of 18 would help any team.
C & B: Where does he rank among the top defensemen in the QMJHL?
TSR: If it wasn’t for his injury he may have lead all QMJHL defensemen in scoring. It’s tough for me to rank him because I have seen some a lot more than others but he would probably be in the top 10 which is really good for an 18 year old in junior league where he plays against guys as much as 2 years older than him. The QMJHL used to have a reputation where it was all offense not defence and only produced forwards and goalies but the QMJHL is quietly producing very solid defensemen such as Kris Letang, Jason Demers, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and the late Luc Bourdon just to name a few. There are also very good current QMJHL defenseman who will have long NHL careers like Brandon Gormley, Nathan Beaulieu and Simon Despres. The fact that Blain isn’t the top defensemen in the QMJHL is nothing to be ashamed of, he’s in great company.
C & B: How far away is he from turning pro?
TSR: Blain will have to play at least another year in the QMJHL before he turns pro as I don’t think he’s NHL ready for next season and he won’t be eligible to play in the AHL. I think if he can play a full season next year and continue his progress and development he should easily be ready for the AHL for his 20 year old season. It’s tough to say at this point but I would say he probably needs a few seasons in the AHL before being NHL ready. Let’s call it the "Theo Peckham" route.
C & B: Thanks for taking the time out to speak with us.