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Red Wings Top 25 Under 25: Xavier Ouellet

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This will likely be Xavier Ouellet's make-or-break year for the Red Wings. So, which will it be?

Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Our 25 under 25 series continues with a look at the Red Wings' favorite skating Frenchman!

Lafayette!

Sorry, I mean

Xavier Ouellet!

(Both GIFs via Giphy)

Vitals

Position: Defense

Shoots: Left

Born: July 29, 1993 (22 years old)

Birthplace: Bayonne, France

Height / Weight: 6'1" / 200 lbs

Stats

XO stats 2015-16 hockeydb.com

Because Ouellet only played 5 games at the NHL level this year, I'm not going to include advanced stats for him because of the small sample size. He only played 81 minutes at the NHL, averaging just over 16 minutes a game. He was paired with Alexey Marchenko for the majority of his time in Detroit this season.

AHL

Because he played the vast majority of his time in the AHL, this article will focus largely on his performance there. He was paired with Robbie Russo 5v5 and joined Russo on the second power play unit. When he played on the second PK unit, he was paired with Nathan Paetsch.

He finished among the team leaders on defense in many categories: Assists 25 (2nd), Points 29 (3rd), PIM 66 (1st) Assists/GP 0.41 (2nd) and Points/GP 0.48 (2nd). Here's how he stacks up against the other Griffins defencemen.

ahl d stats Quanthockey.com

In the Griffins' Report cards (First Half and Second Half), Jason gave Ouellet a B and B- respectively.

At the midpoint of the season, Jason wrote of Ouellet:

A solid two-way defenseman, Ouellet does everything well, but no area of his game stands out except his thought process. He brings a little bit of everything, a strong puck mover, capable of working the point on the powerplay, can play physical and make plays in his own zone. In most organizations he would already be playing the NHL, but with the depth of the Red Wings he is on the outside looking in. That knowledge is sometimes his downfall as he can be guilty of trying to do too much which leads to mistakes. At the halfway mark he has almost matched his career high offensive totals, and the NHL awaits, either in Detroit or elsewhere.

At the end of the season, his comments were very similar, with this addition, specifying what he means by :trying to do too much:"

It can be maddening watching him turn the puck over in his own end because he thinks he beat the last man to make a great play when the simple play would have been to rim it off the boards and down the ice

NHL future

Ouellet is not waiver-exempt, so if he is sent to the minors to start the season, he could be claimed by another team. He joins Ryan Sproul and Nick Jensen in that category, meaning that barring a trade, either one or two of the three will most likely be sent to Grand Rapids.

Ouellet did not overly impress this season in his brief stint in Detroit, but he had better results in 21 NHL games during the 2014-15 season. His 308 minutes over 21 games is too small a sample size to warrant a full look at his advanced stats, but his 5v5 SACF Rel of +5.56 indicates that he has the ability to be a strong possession player.

Of course nobody knows what the roster will look like heading into training camp, but if the team still has the same defensemen, Ouellet will likely be fighting Sproul, and possibly Jensen for a spot in the NHL to start the season. There is a very real chance that, again barring other roster moves, one of Ouellet or Sproul could be lost for nothing through waivers.

Since he has more NHL experience, Ouellet could control his NHL destiny. If he has a very strong camp, he has a very good chance to make the Red Wings. If not, we could be reading about his development in another city with another sweater.