Playoffs spark QMJHL eligibles
The postseason is an excellent time to turn around a rocky season if you’re a QMJHL draft eligible.
Heading into the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs, there were a few players trending downward before solid starts to the postseason.
Raphael Bussieres of Baie Comeau Drakkar was having a terrible second half of the season before heading into the first round series against heavy favourite Victoriaville Tigres.
Bussieres put up two goals and four assist in three games before being suspended three games for a late hit to the head. The rugged winger has since rejoined the Drakkar against the league’s best Saint John Sea Dogs. Questions remain about Bussieres’ offensive potential at the next level but many teams will be looking to his playoff performance to better gauge an up-and-down season.
Speedy winger Christopher Clapperton has continued his regular season success with a dominant playoff run for the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada.
Clapperton has put up three goals and 10 points in just eight games while appearing to sprint through the first two rounds. Still considered a mid round pick, players with Clapperton’s speed and tenacity will always be a sleeper come June. The next step for a smallish player like Clapperton is dominating the league. It may seem unfair, but a smaller player needs to prove more then a larger player at lower levels.
As seen previously, Ryan Culkin is a favourite and this playoffs he has done nothing to change that opinion.
If anything, his performance may have him as a riser on many teams draft lists. Culkin, while being used in a shutdown role, has seven points in as many games games and is a plus-10. Cerebral defensmen often don’t get enough credit. They aren’t flashy and aren’t game breakers in the usual way. Culkin continues to do his job and more.
A somewhat lackluster performance in the playoffs has called into question Mikhail Grigorenko.
Grigorenko’s skill and vision are obviously top level but the compete and consistency leaves many wanting more out of the young Russian. Though he’s recorded nine points in eight games, more was expected out of a player who had 40 goals and 85 points in just 59 games.
Not necessarily a playoff performer, but Val d’Or Foreurs forward Anthony Mantha has an opportunity to perform in the clutch.
Standing at six-foot-three and blessed with above average speed, Mantha will have scouts rushing to see him the Under-18 Championship for Canada. This is a classic case of late riser who can continue to do so on the international stage after putting up 19 goals and 21 assists in the final 27 games of the regular season.
As the top teams move on, more and more 2012 potential draft picks season’s come to an end. Did they do enough to get themselves drafted? This is a question that will be answered in a little over 2 months away.
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