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Victoria Grizzlies’ den profile: Olivier Picard

Olivier Picard has joined the Victoria Grizzlies for the 2022-23 season and he is the latest Grizz player to come from the Major Junior ranks. He last played for the Memorial Cup champion Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Since joining the Grizzlies, Picard has emerged as a leading scorer and was the first Grizzlies player to reach ten points this season, which he hit before the end of October.

This article is about Picard’s path to Victoria. Who he played for, and what he accomplished along the way. Before that, here’s a look at some other Major Junior players in the BC Hockey League this season.

Coming from the Ontario Hockey League is goaltender Aidan Campbell and joining from the Western Hockey League is defender Aiden Reeves. Both players played several seasons of Major Junior hockey before joining their current BCHL clubs. Campbell is currently with Nanaimo while Reeves is skating with West Kelowna.

From U15 to Major Junior

From 2015 to 2017, Picard was part of the Triolet Harfangs hockey program. He played for the Bantam AAA team for both seasons and got into one game with the Midget Espoir team as an affiliate player.

For the 2017-18 season, Picard joined the Magog Cantonniers under-18 squad. During his first season, he scored 13 points in 39 games. The following season, Picard posted 30 points in 38 games with the Cantonniers.

In 2018-19 season, Picard made his Major Junior debut as an affiliate with Val-d’Or and played one game. Over the next two seasons, the Windsor, QC product was with the Foreurs.

Across 77 QMJHL games with Val d’Or, he scored three goals and 12 assists.

The Sea Dogs and the Memorial Cup

In August 2021, the Foreurs traded Picard to the Saint John Sea Dogs. Along with Picard, the Sea Dogs received Lucas Mercuri and a seventh-round pick in the 2024 QMJHL Entry Draft.

In exchange, Val d’Or got Rimouski’s second-round pick and Saint John’s fifth-round choice in the 2024 draft. This trade occurred in time for Saint John to host the Memorial Cup.

After two seasons of COVID-19 restrictions, the Memorial Cup tournament was awarded to Saint John, NB and because they were hosting the tournament, the Sea Dogs got in automatically.

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During the 2021-22 season, Picard was an alternate captain for Saint John and finished with seven goals and 14 assists. In the QMJHL playoffs, he notched one assist in five games.

Saint John was eliminated in the first round of the QMJHL post-season by the Rimouski Oceanic. As a result, the Sea Dogs didn’t play any games from when they were knocked out on May 12 until the start of the Memorial Cup tournament on June 20.

In the tournament, the Edmonton Oil Kings represented the WHL, the OHL team was the Hamilton Bulldogs, and the Shawinigan Cataractes were there on behalf of the QMJHL.

During the Memorial Cup round-robin, Saint John finished in first place. The Sea Dogs defeated the Bulldogs 6-3 to win the championship.

Joining the Grizzlies

Because he was a 2002-born player, the Sea Dogs let Picard go after the Memorial Cup. Canadian Hockey League roster rules prevent Major Junior teams from having more than three 20-year-old players.

Meanwhile, Picard’s junior A rights belonged to the South Shore Lumberjacks of the Maritime Hockey League but they traded him to the Campbellton Tigers in July. He would never play for the Tigers.

Before the 2022-23 regular season, Picard signed with the Grizzlies and now anchors the top line with Jack Gorton and Owen Bohn.

Since arriving, Picard provided an offensive jolt for the Grizzlies, which is something they’ve lacked since the season started.

Leading scorer Matthew Wood left early for the University of Connecticut and top-scoring defender Clark Hiebert aged out of junior hockey. He now plays for the Fort Wayne Komets of the ECHL.

Like Hiebert, Picard joined the Grizzlies as a 20-year-old. When he made his way to Victoria, Hiebert became a leader on the team and even helped coach the Grizzlies during the playoffs. I foresee Picard becoming a leader just like Hiebert was.

Recently, Picard was named to the 18-skater BCHL’s outdoor all-star tournament in Penticton on Jan. 21. A poll of all 18 BCHL coaches had Picard included on the Coastal Conference team.

It’s clear he’s one of a long line of offensive leaders to suit up for the Grizzlies in BC’s capital city.