Raphaël Bussières prides himself on making life easier for his teammates, which is why he'll make a fine second or third-round choice in June.
As a third-year junior, the Baie-Comeau Drakkar power winger has an edge in physical maturity over many of his peers in the 2012 NHL draft class. That being said, at 6-foot-1 and 192 pounds Bussières offers a nice confluence of size and speed, along with some grit, although he had a nearly-costly major and game misconduct in Baie-Comeau's win over powerful Shawinigan on Wednesday.
"I can go get the puck in the corner and create space for my teammate and I have a good hockey sense," says Bussières, who is ranked 57th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. "I try to bring energy."
Bussières, who came into the QMJHL as the Moncton Wildcats' No. 4 overall pick in 2009 before going to the Drakkar in a trade for Gabriel Bourque, has almost matched his scoring totals from last season. He has has 16 goals and 22 points in 48 games, only one point of what he had in 66 games during his age-17 season. He's also shrugged off missing time due to a concussion early on in the season as has helped the Drakkar become one of the Quebec league's most improved teams.
"We've tried to find to a solution as a team to have the best ending," says Bussières, who surely got a few scouts' attention when he squared off with Red Deer Rebels defenceman Mathew Dumba in the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game two weeks ago.
The native of Longeueil in the west end of Montreal notes he's challenged himself to be a more reliable performer on a nightly basis while the Drakkar push to earn home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
"I need to improve my consistency, game after game. Soemetimes I have a good game and then I'm not there the next game."
1. Whom in the NHL do you look at and say, "I need to play more like him" or "I see things he does that I can put into my game?"
"For sure, Sidney Crosby is the best role model for all the young players. But if I'm going to compare myself to somebody, it would be [Boston Bruins winger] Milan Lucic. Big body, goes and gets the puck in the corner, uses his speed. But if I have to get tricks from somebody, Crosby's amazing."
2. What teammate — and you do not have to limit yourself to one — has had the greatest impact on you in hockey?
"My teammate Tomas Filippi, who played for the Czech team in the world junior [and scored two goals to help his team oust Team USA]. He's a great guy to play with, good hockey sense. When you play with someone who has good hockey sense, it makes you better."
3. Aside from your home arena, what is your favourite place to play in the QMJHL?
"I would say Rimouski. It's not a lot of travel from Baie-Comeau and I always seem to have good games there."
4. What do you do when you need to unplug from hockey a bit, get your mind off the game?
"Obviously, it's different in winter during the season than in summer. In the summer, if I'm home, I just hang out with friends, go bowling, play PlayStation, stuff like that. Winter, there's not a lot to do in Baie-Comeau, so we hang out a lot as a team."
5. What is your favourite TV show or movie?
"Favourite TV show, One Tree Hill. Favourite movie, Radio."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet (photo: The Canadian Press).