Columbus Blue Jackets Prospect Watch: Guillaume Richard

Guillaume Richard just completed his junior season for Providence College (NCAA). Will he factor into the future plans for the Blue Jackets?

Providence College v Massachusetts-Lowell
Providence College v Massachusetts-Lowell / Richard T Gagnon/GettyImages

When we're looking at the Blue Jackets prospect pool, there is a lot to love. The team is loaded with high end talent at every position; including several players who we could eventually call "elite" if all goes well.

Lost in the mix a little bit: 2021 fourth round pick Guillaume Richard. The Blue Jackets nabbed the Providence College commit 101st overall at the draft.

Though he doesn't have big counting stats that jump off the page and scream "NHL potential", I think Richard is an underrated prospect who could eventually make an impact in the NHL.

He's a heady two-way defender that skates really well. He does a nice job in his gap control and uses his stick well to break up plays. He's not overly physical in the way of throwing big hits, but he's capable at using his body positioning to win puck battles.

This year, he added more offense to his game, tying his NCAA career high in goals (3); and setting new marks in assists (15) and points (18). He led all defenders at Providence in scoring, and finished 5th on the entire team.

All of this while continuing to be a defensive stalwart. Quietly, Richard had a really strong year at a very high level. Not bad for a guy we had ranked 16th in our organizational prospect rankings from December.

I'm really interested to see what happens with Richard at this point. With a new GM coming on board, things can go in any direction with a depth prospect like this.

But, you know what you can never have too many of in your organization? Good defenders who can skate really well, and chip in some offense.

For that reason alone, I think they would be wise to give Richard an entry level deal either this year or next. They do hold his rights through next summer, so there is still time to evaluate and decide.

In either case, I don't think his development will be stunted. He's not going to lose anything by going back to college for his senior season. In fact, he could dominate and really put his name on the map.

Or, should he choose to go pro sooner (and the Jackets opt to sign him), some time in the AHL would be terrific for him.

This is a player we should be paying more attention to. I think he could develop into a solid third pairing defense option for the Blue Jackets.