Scouts and draftniks alike have been keeping an eye on the Quebec Major Junior League in particular.
With the season ramping up towards a playoff push, that scrutiny has never been higher.
One of the main reasons Baie-Comeau Drakkar’s coach Eric Veilleux is getting set for another deep run into the QMJHL after a Memorial Cup Championship with Shawinigan last spring is due in large part to the organization hitting a home run in the CHL Import draft last summer in Valentin Zykov, taken 76th overall.
To put into context how late Zykov was selected, consider that six teams passed on making a pick and there were just seven players selected after him. Now he leads all QMJHL rookies in scoring with 35 goals and 67 points through 57 games. If the season were to end today, it would be hard not to name Zykov the league’s top rookie.
The Blainville-Boisbriand Armada look to have the Telus West Division all but locked up and are looking to make a run at the Presidents Cup. A lot of the credit for the team’s success can fall on the shoulders of second-year player Marc-Olivier Roy.
Roy sits third on the team in scoring with 59 points in 54 games and, as a rookie last year, had his coming out party in the playoffs when he produced six goals and 14 points in 11 games for the Aramada before they lost in seven games of the second round to Rimouski. They are looking to go even deeper this spring however and he will be expected to provide scoring once again.
Laurent Dauphin of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens had a strong showing at the CHL Top Prospects Game after being named as a last minute replacement because Hunter Shinkaruk had the flu. The Sagueneens star wasted no time making a case that he should have been on the roster regardless of injury by scoring on his second shift of the hockey game.
Chicoutimi wouldn’t be getting a favorable first round playoff match up if the playoffs started today but they do have time to move up from the 13th seed that they currently hold. Dauphin is third on the team in scoring and the team will look to him for a strong finish.
The Rimouski Oceanic has no shortage of players that can put the puck in the net. That is why Fredrick Gauthier is sixth on the team in scoring with 54 points in 52 games. He’s expected to have his name called earlier in June’s draft and will get a chance to show what he can do in the post-season as the Oceanic are the one team in the QMJHL that might have the fire power to beat the Halifax Mooseheads.
Like Halifax, Rimouski has a draft eligible goalie in net with Phillipe Desrosier. He will be one of the first goalies taken in New Jersey and could really help his stock by helping the Oceanic live up to the expectations that they will make a run in the playoffs.
And finally, any playoff push is obligated to mention the Halifax Mooseheads big three.
Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin and Zachary Fucale are the reason Halifax will be a favourite to bring home the Memorial Cup this spring. Ranked second in the Canadian Hockey League, it’s tough to fathom the Mooseheads and their trio of elite draft eligibles not having a big impact on the QMJHL Playoffs.