For last Friday’s Prospect Ramblings, I offered up some of my raw observations from live QMJHL competition throughout the 2019-20 campaign in which fourteen of the leagues’ top draft-eligible prospects were discussed. After this week’s announcement of the NHL Central Scouting’s year-end rankings, most of those players look to still be in contention for being drafted at the pending NHL entry draft, while a total of 33 QMJHL players are ranked in the top North American Skaters group.
Some of the most significant movers from their midterm rankings include Baie Comeau’s Valentin Demchemko (NR > 133), Drummondville’s William Dufour (99 > 69), and Cape Breton’s Dmitri Sokolov (94 > 73), while Drummondville over-ager Xavier Simoneau dropped out of the rankings.
Today I wanted to put the focus on some of the under-aged players who caught my eye this year in the Q. The list is bound to grow as D-1 players in the league are typically just beginning to carve out a role for themselves. In most cases, it’s difficult for a 16-year-old to stand out, even on a struggling team unless he’s truly a first-round caliber type of player.
F | Joshua Roy, Saint John Sea Dogs [2021 NHL Draft Eligible | 20th-40th overall range]
Roy was the first overall selection in the 2019 QMJHL draft last summer, and the rookie finished quite strong with the Sea Dogs. As with most rookies, it took a good while for Roy to find his groove in the Q – unfortunately being the first overall selection did not make him exempt from the curve. As the year progressed, the 16-year-old center went from a relatively passive opportunist to a highly involved offense driver.
Even though he began as a passive observer for the most part, it has always been evident that Roy thinks the game quite well. What gave him the ability to be so opportunistic even from the beginning of his Q career is his ability to anticipate the flow of play through the neutral zone, and right to the net. He makes confident low-risk passing plays that generates offense while keeping the puck out of his own net and with a growing confidence has become significantly more immersed in loose puck battles and net-front scrums.
At 6-0, 192lb, he projects to play pro at an above average size, and while he still has plenty of space to push his game in the realm of physicality, that aspect of his game also trended upwards over the course of the entire year.
F | Daniel Agostino, Drummondville Voltigeurs [2021 NHL Draft Eligible | 4th round or later]
The sixteen-year old rookie split the year between his major-junior club in Laval, and the Drummondville Voltigeurs. As a third-round draft-pick in the QMJHL draft, expectations for Agostino were low. He finished the years with a modest three points through 21 games while playing predominantly on the Volts’ fourth line.
As a 17-year-old in the QMJHL, Agostino stands poised to break out in a big way, which could thrust him into mid-round rankings for the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. In my viewings of Agostino, he played an exceptionally mature two-way game with explosive speed on the offensive size, and an active and effective stick on the defensive. He is consistently involved in the play while on the ice, keeping his head on a swivel and giving 100% effort on every shift.
F | Zachary L’Heuruex, Moncton Wildcats [2021 NHL Draft Eligible | 15th-35th overall range]
One of the most exciting players who will come out of the Q in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft will likely be Moncton forward Zachary L’Heureux. The tenacious winger was gradually bumped down in Moncton’s lineup over the course of the year, thanks to several high-profile 20-year-old acquisitions by the Wildcats. Nonetheless, L’Heureux finished the year with nearly a point per game. The 5-11 194lb 16-year-old kicked off the year at a rampant pace, but his offensive pace slowed in relation with his demotions.
With Moncton graduating nearly half of their roster this summer, L’Heureux will be looked to as a young leader on the 2020-21 roster. His physically dominant play was a catalyst for his success in his rookie season so it will be interesting to see how that impacts his growth potential as he embarks on his sophomore Major Junior campaign. In addition to his typical heavy style of play, L’Heureux lacks no skill in terms of his edge-work and finessed puck handling.
D | Oscar Plandowski, Charlottetown Islanders [2021 NHL Draft Eligible | 20th-40th overall range]
As a 16-year-old defender in the QMJHL, Plandowski debuted as a top-six option on Charlottetown’s competitive roster. The rookie took some time to find his stride in the league, but by year end was easily one of the team’s most impressive and dynamic players. His offensive contributions were minimal, however, even into early March Plandowski was being deployed as a final-pairing defenseman.
His skating is among the best in defensemen of his age group, in my opinion, and is extremely mobile at 5-11, 170lb. When given the opportunity, Plandowski is not shy offensively, and makes clever, safe plays with the puck that are years beyond his peers.
Defensively, he makes good decisions in terms of when to pinch versus hold at the blueline, and in making those decisions, can beat nearly any forward with his backwards skating. E
Entering his draft year, Plandowski is poised to break out, offensively, and earn a spot in contention for first-round NHL Draft consideration.
D | Jeremy Langlois, Cape Breton Eagles [2022 NHL Draft Eligible | 2nd-3th round range]
Elite Prospects lists Langlois as being eligible for the 2021 NHL draft, however, despite being selected in the 2019 QMJHL draft and according to the rule that players must be 18 years old by September 15th of the draft year, Langlois will miss 2021 eligibility by four days. The Eagles blueliner plays a more reserved style of defense, but embodies the discipline of a difference making player nonetheless.
Langlois is a strong positional player who takes few risks to earn his offense. That’s not to say that he’s shy on the puck because he is always involved in puck battles and is typically victorious.
He provides excellent support to his goalie and defense partner, and is more capable of commanding an effective breakout than many of his teammates. With moderate offensive upside, Langlois won’t be a high-profile name come draft day, 2021, but he does have the skillset to become an effective player at the next level sooner than many in this class.
Thanks for checking in for another one of my raw player-evaluation pieces. I’m excited to continue with this theme into next season and hope that it’s a helpful tool for fantasy readers and fans alike. @olaf1393