Is Josh Nadeau the next Conor Garland?

Is Josh Nadeau the next Conor Garland?

Just put it this way the Acadie Bathurst Titan sure hope so!

Let’s be brutally honest. Comparing Josh Nadeau to Conor Garland is just not fair, it’s flat out wrong. Nevertheless, Nadeau has done things at the Midget level over the past few years that definitely reminds many of the Arizona Coyotes forward and Former Moncton Wildcats star.

Joshua Nadeau is a game changer and he could very well become the steal of the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft.

You see Joshua Nadeau is the Titan’s future secret weapon.

Some people may not even know who he is, but if you have ever seen this kid play you will leave the rink that night never forgetting his name.

It might take a year or two, but in my opinion Josh Nadeau will be a star in the Q and massive piece to the Titan organization moving forward.

Will he be on the same level as Conor Garland?

That’s a really tough act to follow, but there’s no question he can be an over a point a game player at the next level.

Nadeau’s individual skill and the way he thinks and processes the game is as exceptional as Conor Garland.

The pride of St-Francois de Madawaska, New Brunswick was the Titan’s first pick in the 5th round 73rd overall in last years QMJHL Entry Draft.

It was just a matter of time before a team selected the shy quiet highly skilled offensively gifted forward.

It’s clear the Titan were targeting Nadeau from the get go.

It was evident some teams didn’t want to take a flyer on Nadeau given his size, but there’s no doubt he was one of the most skilled and smartest player in the 2019 draft and he’s one of the most intelligent player I’ve ever seen play the game.

That’s really high praise, but that’s just the reality.

Nadeau is another excellent example of the new generation of skilled players that will be scrutinized or labelled as just ‘too small’ probably for the rest of his career.

The Fredericton Caps forward is off to an amazing start to the 2019-2020 NB/PEI Major Midget AAA Hockey League season.

In 14 games this season Nadeau has 14 goals and 14 assists for 28 points.

The ultra talented play maker and sniper played his entire rookie campaign and represented New Brunswick at the the Canada Games at only 5’4, 120 pounds.

I realize that’s small, really small, but Nadeau’s zest for the game and skill are really larger than life.

The kid from Northwestern New Brunswick just simply dominated a season ago and you could almost guarantee every team’s game plan specifically was to take his time and space away and to play him physically. Nevertheless, the crafty skilled forward just continued to find a way to put points on the board.

“There’s a lot of things that make Josh special,” said Fredericton Caps Head Coach Eric Bissonette last year during Nadeau’s Draft year.

“When you look at a player like Josh, he’s small in stature, but when you’re small you need certain attributes, I believe he possesses them all.”

 “Some small players have good mobility and agility, but they aren’t always fast north to south, Josh is extremely fast for a guy his size and he is fast with the puck,” added Bissonette.

“Josh has an extremely high compete level, and that is an intangible that size doesn’t matter. He is very coachable and wants to learn on a daily basis,” explained Bissonette.

 “Josh’s hockey IQ is off the charts, he can play the ‘big boys’ game and traffic doesn’t slow him down what so ever,” admitted Bissonette. 

Nadeau caused a buzz at last year’s Monctonian Hockey Challenge reassuring that size doesn’t matter.

Caps games were very well attended throughout the tournament with countless Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team’s scouting staff’s wanting to get a look at the ‘Pee Wee” sized winger with dazzling skill.

In 32 games last season Nadeau had 21 goals and 19 assists.

So the obvious question remains, does Joshua Nadeau have the goods to play at the next level? 

There’s no question he does, however a few factors have to exist for him to excel and be a star at the Q level.

Nadeau has to be surrounded by one heavy gritty forward and a pure goal scorer and obviously he has to get stronger and put on some muscle in order to handle the grind.

Josh Nadeau isn’t a bottom six guy, so the Titan will have to play him within their Top 6. Ultimately time will tell and there’s no question the Titan are not going to rush their offensive secret weapon.

Obviously, it’s going to be a grind for him to stay healthy and avoid injury if he remains at the same weight, but it does appear that he put on some weight this season.

At every level throughout his career Nadeau has elevated his game and excelled, which undoubtedly is a mark of a truly gifted athlete.

Nadeau’s vision, puck skills are outstanding. When he steps on the ice he instantly creates offence while being very accountable in the defensive zone. 

Nadeau is a playmaker at heart, but possesses all the tools to be a lethal sniper.

The gifted winger possesses a very heavy accurate and deceptive shot. Nadeau’s release has the ability to freeze and punish goaltenders. However, one of the most intriguing aspects of the diminutive wingers game is his edge control, overall balance and agility.  

“Josh brings all that he has to the game, first on pucks, creating turnovers and pressuring D men into mistakes through his work and skating skills which are above average,” said longtime coach and 2019 Canada Games Assistant Coach Kevin Pottle.   

“He’s very quick and agile in small spaces as well,” Pottle explained.

The game may have changed, but the need for difference makers remains the same. Whether they are 6’4 or 5’4 every organization is in search of a difference maker and it would appear the Titan have found theirs.

Oh by the way Nadeau had 6 points (2 goals and 4 assists) in 7 games at the best on best Tournament last year.

So what separates Nadeau from other players at the Midget AAA ranks is his ability to find and exploit the quiet areas of the ice, all attributes that Pottle and Bissonette believe will transcend into the next level. 

“The one attribute that is a cut above and really allows him at his size to be successful is his hockey IQ, vision and anticipation,” Pottle said who is currently the Asst Coach is the Fredericton Red Wings of the MHL.

Conor Garland’s ability to spot the open man coupled with his tremendous puck skills vaulted the Moncton Wildcats into the ‘Q’ semi-finals two straight seasons. Nadeau’s ability to read and anticipate the play definitely mirrors that of Garland. 

Nadeau’s compete level and willingness to engage physically is also noteworthy given his size.

Nadeau’s skills were on full display during last year’s QMJHL Top Prospects Game at the Monctonian Challenge. The dynamic winger put on a performance and showcased the range of his talents.

Nadeau scored a beautiful goal in the game beating the goaltender high to the glove side from a challenging angle, all the while giving up several inches and fifty to eighty pounds on every competitor. 

It’s clear some organizations look beyond the stature of a player when evaluating and projecting.

Some may have considered drafting Nadeau as a long shot given his stature, but not his skill, either way Joshua Nadeau is a game changer and the Acadie-Bathurst Titan’s not so secret weapon anymore!

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