Although the QMJHL has already had its share of injuries to the 2013 NHL Draft class, others have been stepping up all over to make this the deepest draft in recent league history.
In Rimouski, defenseman Maxime Gravel is a player who has done just that, stepping up in the wake of Jan Kostalek’s broken collarbone. The offensive defenseman has a goal and four assists so far in November. His ability to run a power play is sure to open some eyes, though his play in his own zone definitely needs some work.
Overshadowed by the dynamic play of some higher rated teammates in Val d’Or, Vincent Dunn is making scouts pay attention. A full 364 days younger than teammate Anthony Mantha, Dunn has been a model of consistency. He has only been held off the score sheet four times in the 21 games he’s played so far this season. The five-foot-11 centre has also dropped the gloves five times so far. He’s the type of shift-disturber that is at his best when he’s getting under the opponent’s skin. As the youngest player eligible for the 2013 NHL draft, he’s a player who is worth watching over the course of the season.
Valentin Zykov has continued his strong start his North American career. The dynamic Russian now has 14 goals and 23 points in 21 games, but his scoring tends to come in bunches. Though his hardworking style is going to alleviate concerns that have plagued other Russians in the QMJHL, his inconsistency is a question mark.
Zykov’s teammate Philippe Cadorette, meanwhile, has also stepped up after a poor start to the season. The slightly undersized goaltender has racked up 10 wins in a row, including nine straight starts without allowing more than two goals. He has a save percentage of .939 thus far in November. He’s a streaky goaltender, but he’s tough to beat when he’s confident.
Rimouski’s Philippe Desrosiers stands alongside Cadorette in the discussion for the QMJHL’s best options in goal. Though both are still behind Fucale, their play this season has them gaining ground. Desrosiers hasn’t been as stellar as Cadorette of late, but he has been consistently good this season. He’s also getting a much heavier workload, regularly facing over 35 shots per game. He has also been clutch, including a 15 save effort (in a half hour of relief time) against Halifax before shutting down nine shooters (including Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin) to take the two points in a shootout.
Gatineau’s Emile Poirier has stepped up his play of late as well. The speedster has eight goals in his last nine games and has shown improvements in all areas, particularly his play on the penalty kill. He’s been an enigmatic player over the last year as he’s shown flashes of elite skill. This past month indicates that he might just be putting it all together just in time for the 2013 NHL Draft.