Thanks to everyone who voted for this year’s Top 25 Under 25 ranking. We had 102 submissions from Columbus Blue Jackets fans. We’ll be counting down the 25 highest voted players over the next five weeks. Up first: Guillaume Richard.
#25: Guillaume Richard
25th out of 38 eligible players
Writer Rank: 24th
Reader Rank: 25th
Highest placement: 11th (1 vote)
Most common placement: 21st (7 votes)
Birthdate: February 10, 2003
Birthplace: Quebec, Quebec
Weight: 176 lbs
Acquired: Drafted by the Blue Jackets in Round 4 (101st overall) of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft
Unlike many Canadian prospects, Richard eschewed the Canadian junior hockey system. He played AAA hockey in Rhode Island as a 16 year old, then joined the Tri-City Storm of the USHL late in the 2019-20 season. He spent the entire 2020-21 season with the Storm, tallying 2/14/16 in 46 games, along with a +/- of +10. He didn’t record any points with Team Canada in the 2021 U18 World Championship, but was +14 in six games en route to winning the gold medal.
Richard is moving on to the NCAA, where he is enrolled as a freshman this fall at Providence College. His head coach there will be Nate Leaman, a Centerville, Ohio native who was head coach of the gold medal winning Team USA at the most recent World Junior Championship. He led the Friars to the NCAA championship in 2015 and got back to the Frozen Four in 2019. Richard is a raw prospect who will need time to develop and bulk up physically, and he will get to do so on a successful team with excellent coaching.
Richard’s NHL dimension is defence, where he’s a frequent play-killer. Knees bent, head on a swivel, and constantly adjusting his positioning, he has projectable defensive range. His confidence defending the rush grew through the season, establishing his gap earlier and earlier to force dump-ins and neutralize threats along the boards. - EliteProspects 2021 NHL Draft Guide
“(Richard is) a smart defenseman,” amateur scout Stephane Leblanc said. ”He has good skills. He handles the puck well. He’s a very good puck mover. He competes hard. Physically, he needs to get stronger like a lot of the 17-year olds we’re gonna draft, but we see a lot of potential in his (hockey) sense.” - The Columbus Dispatch
Richard, 6-foot-2 and 172 pounds, has come a long way in the past couple of years. Once known as an offensive defenseman with a booming shot and could quarterback a power play, he has transformed his game into a solid two-way blueliner. He now is a complete, 200-foot defenseman who can control play. He is not currently ranked high due to the fact this is a forward-heavy draft but do not let that fool you. Richard has all of the tools and hockey IQ to be a diamond in the rough and shine in the right opportunity. - Richard Jelinek, The Hockey Writers