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Wings in Waiting: Xavier Ouellet

Red Wings believe in rookie defenseman, though he has some things to work on

Wednesday, 05.28.2014 / 12:00 AM ET / News
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Wings in Waiting: Xavier Ouellet
Rookie defenseman Xavier Ouellet played in four regular-season games for the Red Wings, producing four shots and one minor penalty. (Photo by Getty Images)

DETROIT – Defenseman Xavier Ouellet got his first taste of the NHL last season, appearing in four regular-season games with the Red Wings.

“When hockey people get to know him, coaches get to know him, general managers get to know him, to be around him and scouts get to talk to him, he knows what he wants,” said Jiri Fischer, Detroit’s director of player development. “He wants to be the best and he's doing everything he can. That's why when he turned pro, he was our first call-up. Mike Babcock believed in him.”

Ouellet was drafted by the Red Wings with the 48th overall pick in the 2011 NHL draft. The defenseman made his NHL debut last October in Detroit’s 1-0 shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks. He appeared in three more regular-season games (Nov. 9, Nov. 12 and April 13), notching four shots and earning two penalty minutes. Also, he made his Stanley Cup playoff debut in Game 5 of the Red Wings Round 1 series against Boston.

“He knows that his combination of strength, size and skating,” Fischer said. “Obviously, improving size is pretty tough. You can get a little bit stronger, a little bit bigger and a little bit wider. His skating needs to improve, but thanks to him being so smart on the ice, he doesn't put himself in tough situations. He doesn't put himself in races that he would lose. If there are 50-50 pucks dumped out of the offensive zone he always knows how to be first on the puck. He plays well under pressure.”

During his QMJHL rookie season in 2009-10, Ouellet played in 43 games for the Montreal Juniors. He earned two goals and 14 assists, and was named to the league’s all-rookie team. The following season, Ouellet increased his scoring to eight goals and 35 assists.

Ouellet was named team captain after the Juniors relocated from Montreal, and scored a career-high 21 goals with 39 assists in 63 games during his third QMJHL season. He was also named to the league’s first all-star team.

Ouellet played in the QMJHL for one more season, and also skated for Canada in the 2013 World Junior Championship. He scored 10 goals with 31 assists in 50 games and was one of the top defensemen for Canada at the WJC, scoring a power-play goal with two assists in six games.

“Two years ago, the year after we drafted him, he was runner-up for defenseman of the year in the Quebec Junior League,” Fischer said. “Last year, he had a high-ankle sprain. He missed the whole Subway Super Series. He played in the Canadian (junior team) selection camp in the summer and he just sells himself on character and hockey IQ. He competes on every shift.

“That summer, he impressed Team Canada so much that even though he had a high-ankle sprain, they basically waited for him until halfway through the camp and into the exhibition games before the World Junior started last year. They had him as a top four (defenseman) already.”

Ouellet appeared in 70 games with the Grand Rapids Griffins last season, earning four goals and 12 assists and a plus-3.

SCHEDULE

HOME
AWAY
PROMOTIONAL

STANDINGS

EASTERN CONFERENCE
  TEAM GP W L OT GF GA PTS
1 p - WSH 82 56 18 8 252 193 120
2 x - PIT 82 48 26 8 245 203 104
3 y - FLA 82 47 26 9 239 203 103
4 x - NYR 82 46 27 9 236 217 101
5 x - NYI 82 45 27 10 232 216 100
6 x - TBL 82 46 31 5 227 201 97
7 x - PHI 82 41 27 14 214 218 96
8 x - DET 82 41 30 11 211 224 93
9 BOS 82 42 31 9 240 230 93
10 CAR 82 35 31 16 198 226 86
11 OTT 82 38 35 9 236 247 85
12 NJD 82 38 36 8 184 208 84
13 MTL 82 38 38 6 221 236 82
14 BUF 82 35 36 11 201 222 81
15 CBJ 82 34 40 8 219 252 76
16 TOR 82 29 42 11 198 246 69

STATS

2015-2016 REGULAR SEASON
SKATERS: GP G A +/- Pts
H. Zetterberg 82 13 37 -15 50
D. Larkin 80 23 22 11 45
T. Tatar 81 21 24 4 45
G. Nyquist 82 17 26 -2 43
J. Abdelkader 82 19 23 -16 42
M. Green 74 7 28 -6 35
B. Richards 68 10 18 4 28
D. Helm 77 13 13 -2 26
N. Kronwall 64 3 23 -21 26
R. Sheahan 81 14 11 -8 25
 
GOALIES: W L OT Sv% GAA
P. Mrazek 27 16 6 .921 2.33
J. Howard 14 14 5 .906 2.80