Pare embracing the opportunity
Entering the 2016-17 season Cedric Pare realized the possibility of having a diminished role in his draft year with the highly touted Saint John Sea Dogs.
“I never thought about getting drafted or not, I tried to focus on playing my game and improving. I tried to learn as much as I could from the older guys,” said Pare.
Drafted by the Sea Dogs in the first round, 10th overall in 2015, Pare was a blue chip prospect with high expectations entering the QMJHL. The skilled centerman found himself in uncharacteristic territory in a checking role. The native of Levis, Quebec wasn’t going to let fourth line minutes affect the possibility of getting drafted into the NHL.
Listed at six-foot-two, 205 pounds, the 18-year-old centre just wanted an opportunity to showcase his talent and skillset. Pare possesses great hands in close quarters and protects the puck very well. He is extremely gifted offensively but with limited minutes and opportunity couldn’t showcase this aspect of his game. Pare has the speed and agility to play on the perimeter but is more comfortable driving the net and getting to the centre of the ice. He possesses a solid accurate release but needs to work on getting his shot off quicker.
Danny Flynn rewarded the youngster throughout the season by spotting him on the second unit of the power play. The former New York Islanders assistant coach would turn to Pare instantly when the Dogs sustained an injury to their top six or if the team was in penalty trouble. Pare’s ability to play up and down the line up certainly earned trust and respect from the veteran bench boss. Flynn’s emphasis on defensive responsibility and structure certainly help Pare’s development at the centre position.
“Danny told me throughout the season that it’s not a sprint but a marathon, I’m so glad he gave me the opportunity to be part of a championship team,” said Pare.
When the Sea Dogs loaded up for their President Cup run, Pare’s minutes were reduced and would play the bulk of the playoffs and Memorial Cup on the Sea Dogs energy line. Pare’s growth and maturity over the course of the season was noteworthy but it’s his ability to play the full 200-foot game that caught the attention of scouts.
Pare couldn’t pinpoint one specific mentor on the Sea Dogs but was quick to point out the benefit of having so many teammates already drafted to NHL, “I learned a lot from the veterans, work ethic, preparation and how to cope better with pressure,” said Pare.
In 64 games, Pare’s five goals and eleven assists misrepresent the full potential of the player. Given his offensive numbers and those unfamiliar with his style of play, some were caught off guard when they heard his name called by the Boston Bruins during the 6th round of Saturday’s NHL Entry Draft.
A defensively responsible and accountable center with great offensive instincts, and a player who takes pride in playing a complete game, it is clear Pare is the prototypical Boston Bruin. He realizes there is a lot of work to be done before he can play at the next level but sees himself fitting into a second or third line centre role. “I am a two-way center that takes pride on winning face-offs and hopefully I can improve my physical and defensive game moving forward.”
“He is a quality young man and is going to a great organisation that recognises his skills and physical tools, we are so very proud of Cedric,” said Sea Dogs president and general manager, Trevor Georgie.
Pare possesses a very active stick and a long reach, which translates well to the centre position. Pare seldom loses body position in one-on-one puck battles in his own zone and doesn’t shy away from the physicality of the position. He is an above average skater but will have to work on his speed and explosiveness to play at the next level. The 18-year-old has good vision and efficiently distributes the puck. His compete level, grit and urgency progressed throughout his rookie campaign and it is clear that if he continues to develop and refine his skills he could be a steal for the Bruins.
Pare has the potential to score at least 25 goals next season in the QMJHL. The defending President Cup Champions will be retooling their roster and will rely heavily on Pare moving forward.
“We have said all along that he is an important piece of our future in Saint John and will continue to develop next season with greater opportunities and responsibilities,” added Georgie.
Pare will find himself playing behind Joe Veleno at center this season however, he is looking forward to contributing on and off the ice for the Sea Dogs. “We are going to have a young team and hopefully I can provide some leadership and guidance moving forward.”
From a sheer numbers perspective, Cedric Pare could have the biggest turnaround of any drafted player in 2017-18. Alain Bissonnette, the Boston Bruins amateur scout responsible for the QMJHL deserves a lot of credit identifying Pare and the potential impact he could offer the Bruins in the future.
Photos: Vincent Ethier/QMJHL Media and NHL.com