Prospect Ramblings: QMJHL Transaction Window and Prospect Signings
It’s been 85 days since the NHL paused the 2019-20 season. That’s more than 12 weeks without hockey, but it feels like 12 years. My last half-d0zen ramblings have been honed in on the upcoming draft, which the NHL has teased us with, only to snatch it back with little more than a vague indication of when to expect it. Thankfully, while the NHL is still working on the kinks in their return-to-play plan, the rest of the hockey world hasn’t entirely stood still.
With the transaction freeze’s lifting for a brief window in the QMJHL and various other miscellaneous transactions taking place, it seems like a great time to revert to a classic format Ramblings!
To kick things off, one of the biggest stories out of the QMJHL is that after an outstanding season in which they traded away a massive amount of draft picks for players pending graduation, the Moncton Wildcats have wasted no time cutting their losses. In an effort to rebuild, the Wildcats traded two of their most promising young players, in Zachary L’Heureux and Elliot Desnoyers to the Halifax Mooseheads. The former is a gritty forward with a ton of offensive flair and upside who is projected to be selected in the top-15 of the 2021 draft. It’s a massive disappointment for Moncton to have to move on from him, but he will be welcomed to the retooling Hali-wood with open arms. Desnoyers is a quick two-way forward who transitions the puck well and is due for an uptick in production next season. Projected as a late fourth-round selection, he was somewhat buried among the strong lineup in Moncton this year and will certainly help to accelerate the rebuild in Halifax.
I went into a little more detail on Desonyers and other QMJHL draft eligible talents back in April here…
From a @QMJHL season that left us with much to be desired, I formalized a handful of the observations I’m confident in, of 2020 draft-eligible players here >> Plenty of @SJSeaDogs and players from other maritime teams https://t.co/o3FvNYK7Mt
— Brayden Olaf (@olaf1393) April 3, 2020
Staying in the Q, the Saint John Sea Dogs have completed several transactions over the last month involving players who were previously expected to pursue hockey in the collegiate realm. While the Dogs are already oozing with talent eligible for the 2020 draft (Jeremie Poirier, Josh Lawrence, Brady Burns, William Villeneuve, and Charlie Desroches), they’ve also gathered commitments from several budding 2021 eligible prospects. Cam Macdonald , previously of the Sioux Falls Stampede (USHL) and committed to Boston College, as well as Peter Reynolds  previously of the Chilliwack Cheifs (BCHL) and also committed to Boston College have retracted their NCAA commitments and agreed to return to a rapidly developing squad in Saint John.
— Saint John Sea Dogs (@SJSeaDogs) June 4, 2020
The NHL’s deadline for signing drafted players of various criteria passed at 5 PM ET on Monday. Some of the notable names include Cole Fonstad [MTL], Nico Gross [NYR], and Riley Stotts [TOR]. DobberProspects is working on downgrading the NHL Likelihood rating of all players left unsigned. A couple of players whose rights were due to expire, but were signed at the last minute include Delcan Chisholm of the Winnipeg Jets and Fredrik Karlstrom of the Dallas Stars. While Karlstrom’s development has been limited in the SHL, he has the potential to work his way into a bottom-six role thanks to an abundance of hunger for the puck and an aptitude for making reliable defensive plays. Chisholm on the other hand has had significant growth in his production at the OHL level. As a fifth-round draft pick, he’s exceeded nominal expectations but will likely spend the first two years of his ELC exclusively in the AHL working on adjusting to the speed and space of the pro level.
Barring any last minute signings still in the queue at the NHL Central Registry, 38 of the 43 players on our list whose exclusive rights were set to expire today, were not signed to an Entry Level contract prior to the 5:00pm ET deadline.https://t.co/nXfmDT1fO4 pic.twitter.com/yDRThlU42f
— CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) June 1, 2020
20-year-old Vegas draft-pick Xavier Bouchard was also left unsigned, in addition to being traded in the QMJHL to Rouyn Noranda from the Cape Breton Eagles. He will re-enter the NHL draft in 2020 with the hopes of finding another team to take a flyer on his inconsistent offensive potential.
In other signing news, the LA Kings have inked two more of their top prospects (although it’s difficult to say who LA’s top prospects are these days considering how deep their pool is). Both Arthur Kaliyev and Jordan Spence demonstrated solid growth in their D+1 campaigns with the Hamilton Bulldogs and Moncton Wildcats respectively. Kaliyev continues to challenge doubters of his eventual NHL scoring ability after being on pace for a second-consecutive 50+ goal season in the OHL, while Spence was arguably the most dynamic two-way defensemen on one of Canada’s best major-junior squads this year.
— LA Kings (@LAKings) June 3, 2020
Last and certainly not least, this week Dobber Prospects’ Directors of Scouting for both North America and Europe, Tony Ferrari and Jokke Nevalainen announced a new initiative for the site. Beginning this offseason both regions have assembled a team of individuals who will be responsible for providing a consolidated, collaborative cross-section (ha, alliteration) of prospects in our respective regions. I’m thrilled to be a part of the initiative and encourage you to follow the rest of the team on Twitter for updates and announcements if you haven’t already done so >>> @claremcmanuss [NCAA] @dathockeydoe [WHL] @caitlinsports [OHL] and of course our fearless leader @theTonyFerrari
Best wishes to everyone in keeping sane with the continued absence of hockey. We feel your pain and are here to support you along the way!
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