A new season is upon us and with that a new group to continue scouting heading towards their selection day in June.
2015 has been a bookmarked class for a few years now as some high-end talent emerged three years ago that had us, and the industry as a whole, excited and looking forward to this season of scouting.
Future Considerations starts the season with a look at who our evaluators we will be watching to start the year and brings you some names in this multi-part look at what the 2015 QMJHL Draft Class has to offer.
In part two we focus on the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s talent pool which is bolstered by a strong group of import players this season.
Right wing Daniel Sprong of Charlottetown is a native of the Netherlands whose family made the decision to cross the Atlantic in an effort to find competition more in-line with Daniels talent levels and with an eye towards helping fulfill their son’s dream of an NHL career.
Sprong really impressed our scouts last season with his speed, quickness in his hands and elite shot and this season has added considerable strength and size without compromising any of his speed to become even more dangerous as a future NHL goal scorer.
Chicoutimi’s Nicolas Roy, at 6-foot-4 and over two-hundred pounds is a tower of a man already at just seventeen-years-old. His strength, reach, puck protection along with smarts and an honest two-way work ethic make him a prospect to get excited about as well. He also has good puck skills and quick feet, surprising elements for a guy his size, and could be one to watch in terms of challenging for a top 5 selection.
Some of the top imports who are making noise as first round potential prospects include Russian power winger Evgeny Svechnikov of Cape Breton who has jumped out to an impressive start on the stats sheet early this season. He has been using his puck skills, strength in protecting the puck and powerful shot to create havoc for opponents early and shows little signs of slowing down anytime soon.
On the other end of the spectrum is smallish Swedish/Ukraine import winger Dmytro Timashov playing this season in Quebec and also lighting up the score sheet early and often this season. The 5-foot-9 winger has slick hands and a low centre of gravity making him hard to contain. His shot and natural instincts of where to go to get a strong opportunity to get a dangerous shot off are his most prominent characteristics. He is also extremely hard to deal with when he gets his feet going on the forecheck.
Another import that has made some early noise while starting his second season in North America is Halifax forward Timo Meier, a Swiss trained winger who plays a power game blended with some offensive abilities. This kid plays a solid two-way game, has learned to use his size more and more and has a very strong shot selection. While having quick hands and being able to make some plays with the puck, he plays a simple north-south game.
Winger Yakov Trenin in Gatineau has impressed our scouts early on. Despite being an awkward looking skater with heavy-looking feet he gets to where he needs to go with power, is creative with the puck, protecting it well and is a duel threat to either make a strong pass or get off a heavy shot. The scouts also like his work ethic and willingness to play a full 200-foot game.
With uber-skilled pint-sized Russian Import Vladimir Tkachev of Moncton somewhat surprisingly going unselected in June and then Edmonton’s unsuccessfully bid at signing him means his name goes back into the mix for the 2015 draft where someone will likely step up early to take him. Tkachev remains an electric offensive player with a bushel basket full of dekes and creative moves at his disposal to use on defenders trying to stop him from attacking.
Moving our attention to the backend, Sherbrooke has in our opinion the top blueliner in the Q with strong, versatile blueliner Jeremy Roy. Roy is a do-it-all type of defender who is strong defensively, using his positioning, physical strength and active stick to keep attackers at bay. He also adds to the offence with an absolute rocket of a shot and by making smart plays when moving the puck as well as not being afraid to play it physical.
Next is an average sized defender who is highly intelligent and moves the puck well. Alexandre Carrier of Gatineau handles the puck well, makes strong passes and jumps into the play when the timing is right. The only issue his lack of strength and that he is not a burner on his skates. He compares well to former QMJHL standout Xavier Ouellet, the Detroit Red Wings draft pick who is on the cusp of NHL full-time duty, a who thinks at an elite level but lacks high-end skating ability.
Import Czech defender Jakub Zboril of the surprising Saint John Sea Dogs squad has also been impressive as a two-way guy that contributes in many facets on the ice. He makes a strong outlet pass, plays smart and physical in his own end and will lay the body when presented with an opportunity. His shot however is a real strength and he is dangerous as the shot option on the point of a powerplay.
Finally, the top keeper to watch in the Q for the 2015 NHL Entry draft might just be Quebec stopper Callum Booth. Blessed with good size, a calm nature in the crease and good mobility he will be making life difficult on goal scorers visiting Quebec all season long.
Prospects who really have stepped up their games early in their draft season include two Sea Dogs.
Winger Adam Marsh and defender Thomas Chabot of Saint John have both jumped out to strong starts with free-agent signee Marsh utilizing his strong shot and dogged determination (pun intended) to create offensive chances and Chabot utilizing a strong passing and transition game plus his willingness to join the attack also aiding the upstart Sea Dogs attack.
That does it for our initial look at the best of what the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has to offer. Check back soon for another 2015 NHL Draft article.
Director of Scouting