Some players go unnoticed.
Some players go unappreciated.
Some players play the game so well people don’t pay any attention. Case in point, Northern Moose defender Marco LeBlanc.
LeBlanc is a tremendous skater and puck mover. He’s not flashy by any means, but just plays the game the right way in all three zones. Like many young defencemen LeBlanc will have to get stronger to ensure he wins more puck battles below the dots in his own zone, but he definitely has all the makings of a top six defender at the next level. It might take some time, but that’s all part of the process when it comes to projecting young defencemen.
It’s still early to throw comparisons out there and sometimes compariables are unfair, but Marco
LeBlanc plays a similar game to that of former Moose and current Acadie-Bathurst Titan defender Marc-Andre Gaudet. Gaudet play in all situations on a very young Moose team and went unnoticed and unappreciated by many scouts. Well, we all know how that worked out for Gaudet, he’s starring on a President Cup caliber team and is on the NHL Central Scouting Player’s to Watch List. LeBlanc is in a similar situation this season, unfortunately, his game and skill set continues fly under the radar. Again, some comparisons are unfair to make, but they aren’t the same player by any stretch, but they do play a similar game.
There’s always a lesson to be learned when young rearguards step on the ice. LeBlanc has great instincts for the game and the position. He’s playing some of his best hockey of the season right now after turning in a solid weekend at the Monctonian Challenge a few weeks back.
The old adage rings true on many occasions, solid defencemen go unnoticed or if a defenceman is playing the game the right way they don’t really appear on a lot of people’s the radar.
LeBlanc’s edge control, compete level and puck skills are well above average for defenders his age. Nevertheless, his name is seldomly mentioned in the upper echelon of defenders in the NB-PEI U18 AAA Major Hockey League.
LeBlanc is on a similar trajectory to that of Gaudet and very few are taking notice of that. Obviously, there’s tons of pressure on draft eligible prospects, but people have to realize it’s a process and it’s all about projecting talent.
Where is Marco LeBlanc right now? Where will Marco LeBlanc be come draft day? Where will Marco LeBlanc be in September when he attends a training camp?
When young players sometimes go unnoticed by the masses, people jump to conclusions like “oh they must a late-bloomer or had a great summer of training or “oh that player plays on that team which isn’t very strong.” Then there are the people that look at the stat sheet. Stat sheets almost never reveal to the true value of a solid two and half zone defender like LeBlanc.
LeBlanc has a tremendous foundation in which to build, grow and development.
There’s no question he will have to get stronger and continue to work on his stick positioning in the defensive zone. He will also have to continue to pick and choose when to jump into the play or pick his spots a little bit better, but that comes with reps and experience which he’s getting tons of logging big minutes in every situation for the Moose.
Unnoticed, unappreciated, but never undervalued. Scouting young 15-year-old defencemen or any player for that matter isn’t an exact science or art form. Scouts should never underestimate or write a kid off for being this or that. Let’s not focus on what all these young players can’t do, let’s look at what they can do and project where they will be in a few years down the road.
Marco LeBlanc is a player to watch and I sure hope more people will start noticing, appreciating and valuing his contributions to the game and natural skill set.