Hello and welcome to the third and final part of my QMJHL season preview! In this series I have taken a look at current and (potential) future NHL prospects in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. I have covered each team in alphabetical order with six teams per part. For those of you who don’t feel like reading everything, I have left a convenient table at the bottom of the article with each NHL draftee on their QMJHL team. I will be posting a follow up article shortly after this article goes out with an sortable table with each NHL draftee from EVERY QMJHL team.
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies finished their season at 40-24-1-3. With the 8th seed in the playoffs the Huskies beat Drummondville in the first round and Quebec in the second round while only losing two games. Their playoffs then ran aground in the semifinals where they were swept by the Halifax Mooseheads.
The Huskies have two NHL draftees on their team. Defenseman Dillon Fournier was taken in the second round by the Chicago Blackhawks with the 48th pick. Listed at 6’2″, 181lbs, Fournier is an excellent two way defenseman that gets ice time in all situations. In his three seasons in the QMJHL Dillon has 76 points in 171 games and is a +9 overall. The other NHL prospect on the team is goaltender Alexandre Belanger taken in the 7th round at #200 by the Minnesota Wild. Alex isn’t very big for goalie standards, and didn’t have great stats for the Huskies, but he has good technique and athleticism and seems to have a way to keep his team in the game. It should be interesting to see how well he plays knowing the starting job is his in Rouyn-Noranda, and after a solid development camp and rookie camp with the Wild prospects.
Rouyn-Noranda also has a few young prospects to keep your eye on this year and in the future at the Center position. Jason Fuchs, a Swiss born forward, and Francis Perron are looking to see increased ice time for the huskies this year. Francis was the Huskies’ first round pick in 2012 and saw limited success in his rookie year, scoring 18 points (7G,11A) in 57 games. He added 1 goal and 1 assist in 5 playoff games, but has 3 goals already in 5 preseason games this year. Fuchs has scored a boatload of points in his young career typically averaging at least a point per game in Switzerland. He has succeeded at all levels of international play and was taken in the first round of the 2013 CHL import draft by Rouyn-Noranda. This will be his rookie year in the Q, and he should make an impact on this roster.
SAINT JOHN SEA DOGS
The Saint John Sea Dogs went 23-44-1-0 during the regular season and squeeked in to the last seed of the playoffs at #16. They were then swept by Halifax and were outscored 25-4 in their four game exit. The Sea Dogs have no NHL draftees on a team that won back, to back, to BACK QMJHL championships in 2010, 2011, and 2012. Those teams were lead by Jonathan Huberdeau and a plethora of other NHL draftees, but now it seems the team has hit a down year and may be rebuilding after having quite the impressive dynasty.
Saint John has a handful of prospects to keep an eye on this year. Matthew Highmore is name I have heard thrown around by a few scouts. He has been injured a few times over the last few years, so he didn’t see significant minutes. Matt already has 5 points (1G,4A) in 4 preseason games so look for him to have a breakout season this year if he can stay healthy. Joey Richard had a very solid Midget AAA season, but played with top linemates. So far this preseason he has 3 points (2G,1A) in 3 games. He is a player to keep an eye on to see if those numbers are because of his own talent, or the skills of his linemates. Juraj Siska is a Slovakian player coming over to the Q for his first year. I have seen a few people call him overrated, so let’s see how he does this year in Canada. Finally, on defense, we have Olivier Leblanc. Leblanc needs to work on his defensive game, but in his rookie year last year he scored 18 points (4G,14A) while seeing limited ice time in 60 games played. His offense is good, but he will need to be more reliable in his zone to catch the eyes of NHL scouts.
The Shawinigan Cataractes finished their season at 15-46-5-2 and did not make the QMJHL playoffs. With the second pick in the QMJHL draft they chose high scoring prospect Anthony Beauvillier. The Cataractes drafted Anthony to play alongside his brother Francis Beauvillier whom the team traded for last year for two second round picks. Francis was drafted by the Florida Panthers in the 6th round of the NHL draft with the 174th pick. These brothers will look to use their chemistry to power the Cataractes back in to the playoffs in the 2013-14 season.
Shawinigan’s other NHL draftee is defenseman Dylan Labbe. Labbe was drafted in the 4th round of the 2013 NHL draft by the Minnesota Wild with the 107th pick. Labbe is a gritty defenseman who is strong in his own zone. Look for him to improve in his second full season in the QMJHL.
The Cataractes have two prospects to keep an eye on this season as well. Center Matthew Boudreau was acquired from the Halifax Mooseheads this offseason for a 1st round pick. Boudreau has scored 150 points in his 194 games in 3 seasons with the Mooseheads. He has likely gone undrafted so far due to his size (5’8″, 150lbs), but if he continues to score with his new team he may garnish a few late round looks from some teams willing to take the risk. Shawinigan also traded a 4th round pick for top goalie prospect Storm Phaneuf. Storm primarily a backup for Blainville-Boisbriand, and will be coming in to Shawinigan the undisputed number one. This will be Storm’s first year he will be eligible for the draft, so look for him to be on the top of his game to get his name called by an NHL club.
The Sherbrooke Phoenix went 21-38-3-6 last season and made it in to the playoffs with the #15 seed. Similar to Saint John, the Phoenix were swept in the first round by #2 seeded Baie-Comeau Drakkar and were outscored 27-7 in those four games.
The Phoenix didn’t do well last season, and I don’t expect them to do well this season. Luckily for them they have a few talented young players that might bring light to an otherwise potentially grim season. With the #1 overall pick in the 2012 QMJHL draft the Phoenix took Daniel Audette son of former NHL All-Star Donald Audette. In his rookie season Audette scored 29 points (10G,19A) in 54 games. Audette also scored 3 points in the Ivan Hlink tourney where his team won Gold. He looks to come in this season and impress the NHL scouts. Sherbrooke ‘s 1st round pick in the 2013 draft is big 16 year old Jeremy Roy. Roy scored 86 points (19G,67A) in 83 games in Quebec AAA. Look for him to have a good year as well. The final prospect I want to talk about for Sherbrooke is defenseman Carl Neill. Neill made it on to the Canada Ivan Hlinka Roster, where he didn’t make a huge impact, but he has talent and leadership that could see his name getting called in the 2014 NHL draft.
The Val-d’Or Foreurs ended last season with a 35-27-0-6 record and landed the 10th seed in the playoffs. The Foreurs upset #7 Prince Edward Island in the first round, but then got swept by Blainville-Boisbriand.
Val-d’Or is led by Detroit Red Wings first round draft pick (20th overall) in 2013 Anthony Mantha. Mantha is a winger for the Foreurs who scored 89 points (50G, 39A) in 67 games last season, and 12 points (5G,7A) in 9 playoff games. Mantha has 5 points (2G,3A) in 5 preseason games, including 3 games played in the Traverse City Rookie Tournament for Detroit. Mantha could be seeing an extended look from the Red Wings, and if he sticks in the big leagues it could really hurt the Foreurs this season.
Val-d’Or also has an NHL draftee in net with St. Louis Blues goalie prospect Francois Tremblay. Tremblay was taken by the Blues in the 5th round with the 146th pick overall. Tremblay’s numbers haven’t been great in the Q, but he is a big goalie (6’2″, 194lbs) with great positioning. Should be interesting to see how he plays with a full year as the starter for the Foreurs. Val-d’Or has one particular prospect that could be turning heads this year at the NHL draft. Nicolas Aube-Kubel has high round potential, and should breakout this year with the Foreurs.
The Victoriaville Tigres finished their season at 35-27-0-6 and got the 11th seed in the playoffs. The Tigres beat Moncton easily in five games in the first round, but then were swept by second seeded Baie-Comeau.
The Tigres have good mix of NHL draftees and prospects. They have 3 drafted players on their squad starting with the Nashville Predators third round draft pick in 2013 Jonathan Diaby. A defenseman for the Tigres, Diaby just underwent shoulder surgery and will be out for the first half of the QMJHL season. Diaby is a tough and sometimes reckless Dman that shows flashes of offensive talent. He had 26 points (4G,22A) last season for the Tigres with 117 PIMs in 67 games. Tommy Veilleux is a left winger also taken by the Nashville Predators in the 6th round of the NHL draft. Much like Diaby, Veilleux is a big and scrappy player. Last year he had 28 points (11G,17A) and 129 PIM’s in 66 games. The last NHL draftee on the team is BIG goaltender Brandon Whitney (listed at 6’5″ 192) who was taken in the 7th round by the Chicago Blackhawks. Brandon had a good year last year that was capped off by great play in his nine playoff games where he had a 2.92 GAA and a .928 Save%. If he continues to progress his game he will be a name to look out for with that kind of size in net!
Victoriaville also has a pair of prospects to keep an eye on this season. Angelo Miceli (5’9″ 176) and Petr Sidlik (5’9″ 154) are two players on the team that put up GREAT offensive numbers last season, but likely went undrafted due to their size. Miceli put up 81 points (36G,45A) in 68 games at forward, and Sidlik had 42 points (9G,33A) in 55 games from defense. Both of them will turn 20 this season, so they will have to continue to shine in order for the scouts to overlook their size and think about taking them in the NHL draft.
Well that concludes my 3 part preview of the QMJHL! As promised I have posted the table below, and keep your eyes peeled for a follow up article with a sortable chart of all the QMJHL players and the teams that drafted them!
NHL Drafted Players
NHL Prospect Analyst
Dynasty Sports Empire