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Analysis of Tristan Luneau’s game

Tristan Luneau is a player on whom I had high expectations when starting the season. Having watched the Gatineau Olympiques many times last year to watch his teammate Zach Dean, Luneau is a player who impressed me last season. He looked like a real general on the ice and I expected to place him very high in my ranking. His start to the season was delayed a few weeks due to injury. I gave him the benefit of the doubt for a while, but after a certain point, Luneau was no longer on my list.

In the end, two flaws will have come back continuously in my viewing which will have greatly penalized him.

The first of these flaws is the question-marks surrounding his skating. I didn’t recall that this represented a major deficit in his game last season, but it now drastically changed the perception I have of the player. Having a limitation is one thing, but in Luneau’s case, the impact it has on his overall effectiveness as a defender is simply too great to compensate for. What’s curious about him is that he seems a much better skater when he has the puck than when he doesn’t. This is mainly due to his posture. Without the puck, his trunk is much too vertical, which is the vector of the other mechanical faults observed. This results in a lack of full extension at the hip and a lack of flexion at the knees, resulting in a short skating stride that does not generate much power. It is really during defensive backcheck that it is the most inconvenient for Luneau. He finds himself exposed in such situations and he does not have enough of a good stick to be able to overcome this problem in his game, seeming to give all his attention to his skating. Because of this, Luneau shows a major deficiency in puck recovery, which is a fundamental quality for any defenseman. However, when he has the puck in his possession, his skating seems much better as he is leaning more forward when handling the puck, this could hint at a possible improvement in this regard. Another aspect of his skating that is lacking is his edge work. Luneau moves quite well in the offensive zone, but in his own territory, an inability to change direction suddenly and/or to turn on himself is the author of the second most cumbersome aspect in Luneau’s game and which is: His game under pressure.

This lack of agility closes him many avenues to take when placed in tougher situations, but that is not the only reason. His handling of the puck also shows some limitations, preventing him from working properly when under pressure and his panic threshold seem rather low, rushing his plays and showing himself guilty of turnovers in such scenarios. It is also in these situations that we observe that Luneau does not deal very well with the physical game as I have seen him play far too often with the tip of his stick when he was threatened with being hit.

These two aspects are too problematic in my eyes and the rest of the qualities he has to offer do not prevail over these. I don’t see assets that are attractive enough to allow me to set my sights on the player. That being said, there are things he does very well on the ice and they need to be addressed.

At first, Luneau is above all a very intelligent player on the ice. He reads the game very well and he thinks at a high level. It is especially in the way he uses his teammates on ‘Give-N-Go’ type plays that the superior intellect of the defender comes out. He sees the spaces that could be exploited on the ice by moving an opposing player with a pass before jumping into the freshly opened free space. Even during his breakout passes in his own zone or in the neutral zone, he demonstrates advanced game readings when his decision is already made before the puck even appears on his stick. An additional aspect that I appreciate about the defenseman’s quick puck distribution is that he continues his actions and jumps into the play immediately afterwards.

Without being a dynamic defenseman offensively, he offers a fairly solid game on the power play. He distributes the puck effectively and even if I have several concerns with his skating for certain aspects, he is still effective in moving at the blue line and moving the opposing team’s defensive box. Also, he stays on the move and actively looks for openings to take better shots than if he had stayed on the blue line. His shot is one of his good offensive assets, especially his slap shot and his one-timer shot from the blue line. He also has a decent wrist shot that he likes to take as he goes deeper into the offensive zone (mostly taking rising shots).

All in all, I haven’t seen the same poise on the ice as last year and the appearance of some major shortcomings make me adopt a more cautious position on his case. More concretely, he may have already been taken by the time I would be ready to select him. That being said, I’m not ruling out the possibility that he’ll bounce back next year. The flaws I blame him for can be corrected quite easily and he has other qualities that could appeal to an NHL team.

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