For a few years the QMJHL seemed to be answering questions.
They have been answering whether they have falling behind the OHL and WHL in terms of developing NHL players. Some have even brought up that the USHL is very comparable in competition, that the QMJHL has long been losing their luster. In recent years that may have been the case but like any area in a down cycle, poor runs usually come to an end.
Last season was a bounce back year for the QMJHL with five prospects getting drafted in the first round, including Memorial Cup star Jonathan Huberdeau going 3rd overall. Huberdeau was the highest QMJHL draft pick since Sidney Crosby was drafted first overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft.
The group of prospects coming out of the QMJHL this season are looking to be its strongest since 2007, where nine players were selected in the first two rounds. This group is led by a strong contingency of European import players.
This list is one that takes a look at the most intriguing and interesting players who are draft eligible out of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season.
Mikhail Grigorenko – Quebec Remperts
Mihkail Grigorenko had one of the more impressive Under-18 tournaments in recent history as a 16-year-old. He created havoc with his size, speed and vision on the way to 18 points in just seven games for Russia. He even has some similarities to that of Mario Lemieux, how he slows down the play instead of speeding it up.
Grigorenko has been known primarily a playmaker and we will see how he adapts to a more physical game this season in the CHL. Also, how will he handle the additional pressure of being in the North American limelight heading into this draft.
Martin Frk – Halifax Mooseheads
Martin Frk had an up and down season in 2010-11 with the Halifax Mooseheads. There were many positives that include his plus shot, strength on the puck and his excellent offensive instincts.
However, there are a few red flags that may have Frk dropping this season. He didn’t always show 100 per cent effort on the ice and his skating is fringe both in acceleration and top end speed. Frk will be playing with phenom Nathan McKinnon, which will definitely make Frk more of an attraction. Some may question, though, who is the straw that stirs the drink between the duo.
Brandon Whitney – Victoriaville Tigres
Brandon Whitney first came on the radar for Atlantic at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. He stared as Team Atlantic upset Team West in the fifth place game and outplayed top goaltending prospect from the QMJHL, Francois Tremblay. This was Team Atlantic’s best finish since 2005.
Brandon is a large, athletic goaltender who covers a large portion of the net. He will need to polish his positioning but with the raw talent and size, he should be a fast riser in the rankings.
Charles Hudon – Chicoutimi Saguenéens
One of the more skilled players to come from the QMJHL this year, NHL teams will have to ask the question, will his skill outweigh the size concerns with Charles Hudon. Hudon is an average skater for his size which doesn’t bode well for this diminutive offensive force.
He has an excellent shot and reads the play very well. If he can improve his speed he may have good pro potential at the NHL level. This coming season, Hudon should be close to the league lead in points, which will garner him extra attention.
Dillon Fournier – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
Dillon Fournier had an excellent year last season as a 16-year-old with Lewiston and he will look to build upon that with his new team in Rouyn-Noranda. Fournier is an excellent skating defensmen who has very good defensive qualities.
His offense is untapped at the moment but he is still only young. He is getting both power play and penalty kill opportunities early this season so a breakout season may be in the books. Still, Fournier needs to add a lot of bulk in order to handle the rigors of pro hockey, though time is on his side.
Luca Ciampini – Halifax Mooseheads
With Nathan MacKinnon as his centre, sniper Luca Ciampini should expect to put up quite a few goals this season. Ciampini is a mix between a power forward and a sniper. He moves satsifactory for his size but his bread and butter will be driving the net and using his strength to his advantage.
Ciampini has an above average shot which has the potential to be a plus shot at the next level. The scouts will come to see MacKinnon and Martin Frk, but Ciampini may have what it takes to be a first rounder on draft day.
Raphael Bussieres – Baie Comeau Drakkar
Raphael Bussieres is late 93 birth meaning he has roughly one more year development ahead of his competition. He is an electric offensive forward who has excellent speed, shifty moves and a great scoring touch. On top of that he has shown a willingness to fight.
If anyone were to have a Jonathan Huberdeau type jump in this draft, Bussieres is a strong candidate to do so. Unlike Huberdeau though, Bussieres needs to work on his two-way game in order to maximize his pro potential.
Taylor Burke – Gatineau Olympiques
Taylor Burke was having a solid opening season on a strong Gatineau team when he required shoulder surgery which took him out for the remainder of the season. He still isn’t quite healthy enough to join the lineup but when he does, he should be an sleeper to watch in the draft.
Burke is a smart, two-way player with quite an edge to his game. He likes to play physical and go to the nasty areas on the ice. And is the type of player that will help a team win. Burke, like most in junior, needs to work on his skating so it isn’t a problem at the next level.
Matej Beran – P.E.I Rocket
To say Matej Beran is big and physical, it would be an understatement. For his age, Beran is massive and he knows how to use his large frame. Not just a big center who finishes checks and goes to the net, Beran has above average hands considering his frame.
The only problem with this big Czech is that he is a lumbering skater and that will need to improve in order to have a future at the pro level. Sitting in front of the net for the power play, expect a lot of garbage goals and a lot of scouts to notice.
Frederic Gamelin – Baie Comeau Drakkar
Frederic Gamelin is one of the smaller, but smarter, players eligible to come out of the QMJHL this season. While he is very small he makes up for it with his excellent agility and tremendous vision. Gamelin moves the puck very efficiently in the offensive zone. He will need to improve strength quite a bit in order to survive in the NHL.
Jason MacIsaac covers the QMJHL for Future Considerations and can be found on Twitter. For all the latest Future Considerations news and posts, follow FC’s Official Twitter Feed, on YouTube and on Facebook!