QMJHL rookies standing out early

Mark Farine2013 Draft Center0 Comments

Amongst the QMJHL’s 19 players selected in the 2012 NHL draft, six of them were in their rookie seasons in the league.

The 2013 NHL Draft class from the QMJHL should see more newcomers drafted, as there is a strong group of first-year Europeans as well as a few players who could’ve played Major Junior last year but chose to keep their collegiate options open.

The most notable of these players might just be Rimouski Oceanic centre Frederik Gauthier. The six-foot-four first-year forward is a strong skater and has been applauded for his consistent effort and his strong defensive play. Scouts question whether he’ll be able to contribute much offensively, but Gauthier has six goals and 10 points in his first seven games.

Joining him are teammates Anthony DeLuca and Maxime Gravel. The diminutive winger DeLuca is an exciting attacking presence with quick hands and good vision, while the six-foot defenseman Gravel is a powerplay quarterback whose play in his own zone needs a bit of fine-tuning.

Staying in Northeastern Quebec, Chicoutimi and Baie-Comeau both have players fresh out of AAA that are getting attention early on.

Laurent Dauphin dominated AAA last season, accumulating 26 points in 13 playoff games. The six-foot centre has kept scoring in Chicoutimi, notching nine points in his first eight games. The smaller Gabryel Paquin-Boudreau, a quick winger with a very slight built, playing a key role in the Drakkar offense. He’ll need to bulk up if he wants to make some serious noise.

The European pool is also quite strong this season, once again starting in Rimouski.

Jan Kostalek is a mobile defenseman who can make a physical impact on the game and run an offensive scheme. Vlad Bryukvin, a late arrival from Russia, has impressed in limited action with his speed and creativity.

In Bathurst, Patrik Zdrahal is another import who has been getting on the scoresheet early. The five-foot-11 winger from the Czech Republic has been getting some time on the top line and is starting to get noticed for his playmaking abilities.

Also going at a point-per-game pace is Gatineau’s Slovak Martin Reway. Though he measures in at only five-foot-eight, he’s a dynamic player who has been all over opponents, despite Gatineau’s slow start.

These players are all guys who are worth keeping an eye on as they adapt to the QMJHL. Some, like Gauthier, are already making a case to get their names called on the first day of the 2013 NHL Draft. Others will certainly get their attention if they keep up the pace.

Finally, more are likely to start making noise as they adapt to a new league. One thing that’s for sure is that the QMJHL’s rookie crop is one to watch this season.

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