Draft Pick Profile: Alexis Gravel


Upon the completion of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, The Rink will take a look at the players chosen by the Chicago Blackhawks on day two of the draft.

Next is the Blackhawks’ sixth round choice, goaltender Alexis Gravel.

Alexis Gravel
2017–18 Team: Halifax (QMJHL)
Date of Birth: March 21, 2000
Place of Birth: Berlin, Germany
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 222 lbs
Catches: Full-Right
Position: G

NHL Central Scouting Final Ranking: 3 (North American Goaltenders)
NHL Central Scouting Midterm Ranking: 1 (North American Goaltenders)

NHL Comparable: Devan Dubnyk

Gravel is a big, right-handed goaltender who has spent the last two seasons playing for the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Gravel has been highly touted at points over the last couple of years and has at times looked fantastic. However, he has struggled with consistency and with his development, which led to some questions about his potential and therefore his draft stock.

The first thing that stands out about Gravel is his huge frame. At 18 years old, he is already 6’3” and weighs 222 pounds. This size helps him cover a lot of the net, a big plus for goaltenders. It seems that, more and more, successful upcoming goaltenders have larger frames like Gravel’s, so this is certainly a trait in his favor.

Gravel has good quickness, especially given his size. He is an athletic goaltender who has good reactions. Gravel is a good skater and can challenge shooters well, with the ability to move back in his net and a shooter gets closer to shut down deke opportunities. Gravel is a butterfly goalie and his quickness allows him to speedily get into his butterfly position.

Given his size, Gravel has pretty good strength, especially in his legs. His powerful legs allow him to react to bang-bang plays. Gravel is a battler and holds his own in net-front scrambles and goal line stands. He fights hard to track pucks through traffic and never quits on a play gone wrong. Gravel is highly competitive, which helps him make saves when things get hectic.

Gravel’s glove is one of his biggest strengths, as he can quickly flash it to make a big save. He is good at keeping it up in a ready position. Gravel is able to control rebounds better than most at his level, which will help him in his development.

Positioning is another strength for Gravel. He is very good at staying square to shooters, which, in addition to his size, helps him cut down angles. Gravel’s quickness helps him recover and stay square to shooters on rebound opportunities as well.

However, there are some issues Gravel will need to fix before he is ready to play at the NHL level. His lateral mobility leaves a lot to be desired. As a result, he can get beaten if the puck is moving across the ice quickly or if there is a quick, cross-crease pass. He does not handle the puck particularly well, and as such, often chooses to stay in his goal instead of playing the puck. Gravel can also work on his mental strength, as he has the tendency to ruminate on bad goals and let them affect his play. There is also some concern about his stick positioning, as he can sometimes leave his five hole exposed.

Gravel is a second-generation goaltender, as his father, Francois, played professionally for over a decade and represented France at the 1998 Olympics. The elder Gravel was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in 1987 but never made it to the NHL.

Implications for the Blackhawks
Gravel was a nice pick up for the Hawks, especially in the sixth round. With as many goalies picked early on day two, it was a little surprising to see Gravel fall to the sixth round, given he was ranked as the third-best North American goalie by NHL Central Scouting. As such, the Blackhawks may have lucked out. Gravel will need a long time to reach his potential, similar to Corey Crawford, who was drafted in 2003 but did not play regularly with Chicago until 2010–11. The Hawks have not drafted a goalie recently with nice upside, so taking Gravel could be a nice addition to the organization once he develops.

Gravel is categorized as a project because of the aspects of his game he needs to work on. While having decent potential, he will take longer than other goalies to reach it. Gravel will return to Halifax this season and will likely spend another year or two there before turning pro, where he would likely spend a few years in the minors before being a legitimate option at the NHL level. Gravel likely will not be ready for regular NHL action until at least 2022–23 or 2023–24.

Gravel has the size and quickness needed to be a good goaltender at the NHL level. Whether he could become a reliable starter remains to be seen, but with proper development, Gravel should be a decent NHL backup at the least.

What others are saying
“At 6’3” and 220 pounds, Gravel already has the frame needed to be a pro goaltender. Gravel is a strong skater. He can get out of his crease to cut down angles, making full use of his frame and giving shooters little to look at. Gravel can back up quickly, taking away the ability to deke him. He also tracks pucks well but could stand to work on his lateral push. Gravel sometimes looks awkward when moving side-to-side. He also needs to adjust his stick position and close off the five hole. These adjustments would really help his game. He gets into and out of the butterfly quickly. Gravel has strong, quick legs that take away the bottom of the net. His glove hand is also particularly strong.”
Ben Kerr/Last Word on Hockey

“Alexis is a guy we think has a lot of potential. And with goalies you have to be patient with them, they take a little bit longer (to develop). But he’s got a lot of ability, he’s got the size to be an NHL goalie, and I think that’s part of it. We’re happy that he was there and we were able to get him.”
Stan Bowman/Chicago Blackhawks General Manager

Gravel’s draft-day interview can be viewed below:

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