Théo Rochette – 2020 NHL Draft Prospect Profile

Théo Rochette

2019-20 Team: Québec Remparts – QMJHL
Date of Birth: Feb. 20, 2002
Place of Birth: Neuchâtel, Switzerland
Ht: 5-foot-10 Wt: 159 pounds
Shoots: Left
Position: C
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible

Rankings

It wasn’t the season many expected for the dual Canadian/Swiss forward. Once projected as a first-round selection, Rochette has fallen down to the third or fourth round in most lists. He played much of his minor hockey for Lausanne in Switzerland before joining the Chicoutimi Saguenéens of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL). His rookie season was impressive, registering 14 goals and 43 points in 59 games played.

The start to his sophomore season didn’t go as planned. He suffered from mononucleosis and it clearly impacted his production. He posted 4 goals and 16 points in 19 games played. That resulted in a trade to the Québec Remparts where he finished with 10 goals and 23 points in 30 games played.

Chicoutimi Saguenéens, Theo Rochette
Theo Rochette, Chicoutimi Saguenéens (Photo: André Emond)

Heading into the beginning of the season Rochette was considered one of the best passers in the entire draft and it wasn’t by accident. He has above-average vision and can thread the needle with a hard, accurate pass. He possesses the ability to read plays at a high level and can find teammates with a wide array of passing options. Whether it be a cross-ice pass, saucer pass or backhand pass, he often makes the right choice.

Rochette is one of those players who can stickhandle in a phone booth. He makes high-skill plays in tight with seamless execution. He doesn’t lose control at top speed and uses soft hands to open up space and find teammates. Lacking lethal power on his shot, he often uses his hands to generate dangerous scoring opportunities. However, he needs to show more consistency with the puck, as he sometimes disengages from play.

Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide

He’s one of those players who rarely shoots the puck and leaves you questioning why he doesn’t do it more often. He lacks power on his shot, likely due to his size, but he hits his target often and has a deceptively quick release.

He isn’t the fastest skater when it comes to top speed, but he’s exceptionally quick off his first step and can change speeds effectively. I think the best way to put it is he’s not fast, he’s quick. He’s strong on his edges and can cut quickly with excellent agility.

Defensively, Rochette is more than capable in his own end. He commits well on the back check and shows commitment and strong work ethic consistently. He’s capable in the face-off dot, but will need to add strength to be successful there at the next level. Thanks to well-timed positioning and a quick stick, he’s able to efficiently break down plays and cut off passing lanes.

Other THW Draft Profiles:

Théo Rochette – NHL Draft Projection

Once considered a lock for the first round, Rochette has fallen significantly. He’s now projected to go somewhere in the fourth round. There are still those who are high on him thanks to his impressive rookie season. I’ve seen him ranked as high as the second round still and as low as the fifth. He’ll likely fall come draft day, but could make one team very happy if he rebounds in 2020-21.

Quotables

“I was very excited about Rochette coming into the season. He passed 40 points in the QMJHL as a 16-year-old and looked dynamic at times. I still think he’s one of the best passers in the draft and he has the natural offensive skill to score in the NHL. There are things about his game though that concern me. His skating is good, but not great, especially for an undersized player. His compete level is average. I’ve seen good flashes from him of getting his nose dirty, but a lot of times he stays on the perimeter and isn’t great away from the puck. I could see him breaking out in a big way, but he might have too many warts to get it done at the NHL level and he will need to show up more often than he did this past season.” – Corey Pronman, The Athletic (from: “ Pronman’s 2020 NHL Draft Board: Top 122 prospects ” – The Athletic – May. 27, 2020).

“Rochette has impressive puck skills and can anchor his own line as a center or wing. He can stickhandle through traffic and remain under control regardless of speed or location. He is reliable controlling the puck near the board and is poised enough to draw attention towards him to free up space for his point man. Rochette’s role on Quebec was more expansive than when he was with Chicoutimi since he was no longer acquiescing half-wall duties to Lapierre. With the Remparts, Rochette was more confident and decisive in his decision making and pass deliveries, plus he seemed to increase the creativity of his set-ups since he was no longer acquiescing puck-control-duties to Lapierre.” – Steve Kournianos, The Draft Analyst

“Small lightweight center with high skilled playmaking abilities. Elusive puck carrier who is slippery enough to give his wingers time to get open before he sends them the pass. Has soft hands and great vision though he isnt a burner. Is quick and agile enough to walk out of tight spaces with the puck still on his stick. Rail thin and needs pelnty of grith and muscle as he moves forward. Little fella who possesses soft hands great vision and passing skills, but is small, very thin, and needs more over-all strength if he is going have a chance to climb into a pro role. A big high end stickhandler who is more quick than fast. He has the agility and quickness to hang on to the biscuit that extra second when things start to develop around him without breaking stride. Needs to improve the strength of his shots, their delivery and at this juncture has trouble against most players bigger than he is.” – Bill Placzek – DraftSite

Strengths

  • Two-Way Game
  • Puck Control/Hands
  • Passing and Vision
  • Agility

Under Construction (Improvements to Make)

  • Top Speed
  • Needs to Add Strength
  • Shot Power
  • Offensive Consistency

NHL Potential

The question becomes how much of Rochette’s disappointing season was due to mononucleosis? He could very well come back next season and prove why he should have been a first-round pick. As of right now, he projects as a middle-six forward who can move up and down the lineup and play on the penalty kill. Time will tell if he has what it takes to succeed at the NHL level, but the risk is certainly there for teams that draft him higher than the fourth round.

Risk-Reward Analysis

Risk – 3.5/5, Reward – 4/5

Fantasy Hockey Potential

Offence – 7/10, Defence – 7.5/10

Awards/Achievements

Rochette won a Hlinka Gretzky Cup Silver Medal for Canada and went pointless in five games played.

Interviews/Links

Videos

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