September 14, 2015

Yanick Lehoux

Yanick Lehoux was a tantalizing offensive talent who just never got his shot at the National Hockey League.

Described as a nimble skater and an excellent puckhandler who used his linemates well, his down side was his lack of size and physical game and slow development defensively.

Lehoux starred with Baie-Comeau in the Quebec league from 1998 through 2002 after they drafted him first overall among all eligible prospects in 1998. In 266 games with the Drakkar he scored an impressive 164 goals and 382 points. He would also be named as the QMJHL's Scholastic Player of the Year in 2000.

Despite this strong resume he slipped to 86th overall in the NHL Draft where he was selected by the Los Angeles Kings. Being cut from Canada's World Junior squad did not help as he was labelled as an offense-only player who, and with fair comment, needed to upgrade his defensive game. His leadership was briefly called into question as well, as he had the Baie-Comeau captaincy taken away for a brief time before it was returned to him.

Lehoux reported to the Kings farm team in Manchester starting in 2002 and he quickly started sliding off the prospect list and on to the suspect list. He had two indifferent seasons as he adjusted to the pro game. He was inconsistent and hesitant with the puck.

In the 2004-05 season Lehoux finally started to find his groove. He suddenly was playing his game again where he carried the puck more rather than dumping it in from the neutral zone every time. With 23 goals and 54 points in just 38 games, he was having a spectacular season when he was injured and unable to play the rest of the season. Instead of reaffirming himself as a NHL prospect he remained a question mark.

The Phoenix Coyotes acquired Lehoux in the 2005-06 season. In a season where he split the campaign between Europe and the AHL, he also got his first taste of NHL action. He played three games for the Coyotes and even scored his first NHL goal.

The experience was short lived. He played another strong AHL season in 2006-07 but only got into seven NHL contests with the Coyotes, scoring another goal and picking up three points.

Lehoux would sign with the Montreal Canadiens in 2008-09 but never played for the club he grew up dreaming of playing for. He played well for the Habs AHL farm team in Hamilton before disappearing to Europe for many seasons.

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