Defenceman Sebastien Bisaillon was never drafted (despite a favorable CSB ranking and after passing through the 2005 and 2006 NHL Entry Drafts,he was invited to the Oilers 2006-07 training camp and signed by the team. His QMJHL statistics do a good job of portraying both his strengths and weaknesses as a player:
2003-04: 67GP – 4G – 14A – 18 PTS – 39 PIM – -7
2004-05: 69GP – 15G – 33A – 48 PTS – 39 PIM – -12
2005-06: 63GP – 35G – 36A – 71 PTS – 56 PIM – -27
2006-07: 63GP – 12G – 40A – 52 PTS – 30 PIM – +4
Promising Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Kris Letang is roughly the same age (4 months younger) and played for the same team. Since he’s now in his second NHL season, let’s compare his numbers to those of Bisaillon:
2004-05: 70GP – 13G – 19A – 32 PTS – 79 PIM – -16
2005-06: 60GP – 25G – 43A – 68 PTS – 156 PIM – +4
2006-07: 40GP – 14G – 38A – 52 PTS – 74 PIM – +19
Both players are the same height (although Letang is roughly 20lbs heavier) and have very comparable offense. Still, the statistics do give us two obvious differences. Bisaillon seems to have been a bit of a defensive nightmare; in both of his final two junior seasons, he was ranked near the bottom of the team in +/-, while Letang was near the top. The second difference is in the number of penalties taken; while it’s impossible to be sure based solely on the numbers, it would be fair to suggest that Letang was a far more involved physically. Given Letang’s NHL success, we might conjecture that Bisaillon looked to have NHL-level offensive talent, but significant shortcomings both defensively and as a physical player. Kevin Prendergast commented on Bisaillon shortly into the 2006-07 season:
He had to play the first 18 games without Letang and I think at times he tried to do too much but he’s got a cannon for a shot and really good hockey sense. He’s a lot like [Marc-Andre] Bergeron and plays that style. Sebastian’s come a long way from last year and I think the opportunity in our training camp was good for him. He wants to be a NHL player and Kelly [Buchberger] was in there last night and said he played a very solid two-way game and that’s what we want to see from him.
When Prendergast made the comparison between Bergeron and Bisaillon, he certainly didn’t realize that Oilers fans would be able to compare the two that very season. With Bergeron traded and defencemen Steve Staios, Daniel Tjarnqvist, Ladislav Smid, Tom Gilbert and Mathieu Roy all injured, the Oilers burned a year of waiver eligibility to recall Bisaillon from the QMJHL. He played two games with the Oilers during the Oilers 2006-07 stretch drive crash and burn, scoring no points and managing a -1 rating.
Sebastien Bisaillon’s was a bit of a roller-coaster ride. He started the season in the ECHL, where he performed very well (four goals and six points in five games, +7) before being recalled to Springfield where he played twenty-one games, managing ten points and a -3 rating. He was also in Springfield when an opposing player accidentally stepped on the back of his leg, slicing through his calf all the way to the bone. Initially it was feared that the injury could be career-threatening, but Bisaillon managed to return and play the last two games of the season for Stockton.
This season’s been much the same for Bisaillon. He’s played 27 games for Springfield, going +2 and managing 11 points along the way, but was recently assigned to Stockton, where he is even and has four points through nine games. Superficially, it seems strange that a defenceman with such good numbers would be assigned to the minors, but I think much can be explained by the Quality of Competition numbers I posted earlier, which show Bisaillon playing the softest possible opposition. That makes a lot of sense considering his track record and reputation. It’s also worth noting that he’s generating a ton of his offense on the powerplay (roughly 45%), which as Lowetide says “gives us a hint about how he might be used if he arrives in the NHL at some time.”
Bisaillon is the first player from Springfield who may have NHL upside. The smart money would be to bet against it, of course, but he does have upside as a third-pairing powerplay specialist. If he does play in the NHL, Kevin Prendergast’s Marc-Andre Bergeron comparison will probably be a good one. He’s approaching the end of his entry-level contract, but probably deserves to receive a two-way deal for next season.
NHL Contract Status: 500K for 2008-09, pending RFA (please note – Bisaillon receives this salary only if he plays NHL hockey)
AHL Performance Compares To: Marc-Andre Bergeron
Career Projection: Tweener/Powerplay Specialist