QMJHL Report: February 2021

Julian Mongillo

2021-02-05

The QMJHL has now returned to action after its mid-season pause and moved forward with its Protected Environment Plan. The Quebec-based teams resumed their season on January 22nd using their host city format highlighted in last month’s article

 

Heading into the Protected Environment Event the League announced that through their first wave of COVID-19 testing there were no positive results returned by players or staff members. However, one of the on-ice officials did test positive for the virus and did not travel to the event in Chicoutimi, forcing the league to use a three official system at this location. 

 

With many of the teams, staff, and players buying into the protocols and regulations the league has been able to continue part of their season as they are still working out some kinks due to government regulations in the Maritimes provinces.

 

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Maritime Division Update

While at least some of the League has returned to play the Maritimes Division still is not in full swing. Only three of the six teams in this division have been approved to resume games. With a division that sees teams from three separate provinces as opposed to the East and West Division all being in Quebec, there is a much greater challenge to have these Atlantic coast teams return to action.

 

While there has been positive dialogue to have all teams get back to the ice, New Brunswick remains in the “orange phase” of its COVID-19 Recovery Plan, therefore, preventing sports games from being played. The province of New Brunswick and its Health Officials are waiting to see improvements from their current situation before approving the League’s plan. 

 

The hope remains that the Moncton Wildcats, Acadie-Bathurst Titan, and the Saint John Sea Dogs will be back on the ice sometime in early February however that is solely up to the discretion of the Province’s Government. In the interim, the three remaining Maritimes Division teams will be playing games through February. The Halifax Mooseheads, Cape Breton Eagles, and Charlottetown Islanders will each get heavy doses of each of their opponents, which could spark some rivalry and make for some entertaining hockey. Cape Breton and Charlottetown will both play 12 games, while Halifax will play 14 games this month. The league will also manage the schedule accordingly and add and adjust games if developments are made regarding the status of the remaining three teams. 

 

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Now that we have all the housekeeping items out of the way we can get into the meat and potatoes of this article and get back to the real hockey talk with games finally back in action.

 

Trade Tracker 

Through the pause, the QMJHL saw their midseason deadline expire on January 25th, 2021 and although there was no action on the ice there was plenty of it off the ice. The deadline had originally been scheduled for January 6th, 2021 but was postponed to the 25th and there was no shortage of moves made. 

 

Throughout January until the trade deadline day, there were a total of 34 transactions made among the teams. This deadline was especially unique considering teams had to decide whether to look for future assets or go all-in on their rosters which is tough to do considering the varying degree of games played, making it hard to decipher true league standings. 

 

Likewise, some teams may not have much on-ice play and tape to watch of some of the players in these trades because of the discrepancies of games played which could increase the risk for a deal to go south for a franchise this season compared to any other. 

 

Sellers

Sherbrooke Phoenix

The Phoenix and their 1-7-0-1 record sat at the bottom of the league’s standings heading into deadline day and were very busy shipping players out. The team completed eight separate transactions within January alone moving many of their older players. As much as they were sellers Sherbrooke did make a big move of their own which should bring hope to the team for next season. The team acquired the former first overall selection in the 2019 QMJHL Draft Joshua Roy who sits ninth in league scoring with 20 points in 17 games played. 

 

Rimouski Oceanic

Similar to Sherbrooke the Oceanic were also looking to acquire future assets and look to build for next season. Since Alexis Lafreniere’s departure last year the team has gone downhill and currently holds the second-worst record in the league, despite being tied for the most games played (20). The team made five swaps in January but their big piece coming back was the 17th overall selection in the 2018 QMJHL Draft Jeremie Biakabutuka.

 

Buyers

Val- d’Or Foreurs

On the other end of the spectrum, the Foreurs pushed all their chips into the middle of the table at the trade deadline, making several major splashes to bolster their already strong team. The Foreurs’ notable acquisitions include; the league’s current third-highest scoring defenseman in Jordan Spence and Pittsburgh Penguins prospect Samuel Poulin. These additions make Val-d’Or a strong contender to continue their winning pace this year and challenge to be the best team in the league. They currently sit third in the league standings based on winning percentage although they’re boasting a 13-2-2-2 record and lead the league in points with 30.

 

Blainville-Boisbriand Armada

Although the Armada may have been one of the more quiet teams on the trade market in the month of January they did make a few transactions. The one that comes with higher significance is trading for Christopher Merisier-Ortiz from the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. Merisier-Ortiz should help round out the team’s blue line shutting down opponents while chipping in offensively. Along with some trades made prior to January, the team is now poised to take their game to another level and will try to dethrone the Charlottetown Islanders from the top of the league standings.

 

Victoriaville Tigres

Although they only made four trades in January the Tigres’ team has drastically improved their team in the hopes of propelling them higher in the standings. Victoriaville is in the bottom half of the league in goals for although they sit eighth in league standings with a few percentage points separating them from being the fourth-best team. Acquiring the league’s top scorer, goal leader, and assist leader in Shawn Element via trade in December, as well as Alex Beaucage on deadline day. The Tigres have given up the least amount of goals in the league and have now bolstered their offense, which could catapult them up the standings very quickly. 

 

Notable Trade Details for January 

Here are some of the more notable trades that were completed within the month of January including the full details of the transactions.

Sherbrooke Phoenix Acquires

– Joshua Roy

Saint John Sea Dogs Acquire

– 2021 First Round Pick (CHA)

– 2022 First Round Pick (CHA)

– 2021 Second Round Pick (BAT)

– 2023 First Round Pick

Rimouski Oceanic Acquires

– Jeremie Biakabutuka

Val- d’Or Foreurs Acquires

– Charles-Antoine Beauregard

– 2021 First Round Pick (CHA)

– 2022 Third Round Pick (SNB)

Victoriavile Tigres Acquires

– Alex Beaucage

Rouyn- Noranda Huskies Acquires

– 2021 Seventh Round Pick 

– 2022 First Round Pick

Val- d’Or Foreurs Acquires

– Jordan Spence

Moncton Wildcats Acquires

– Vincent Filion

– 2022 Fourth Round Pick (DRU)

– 2023 First Round Pick

Val- d’Or Foreurs Acquires

– Samuel Poulin

Sherbrooke Phoenix Acquires

– 2021 First Round Pick (CHA)

– 2021 Third Round Pick

– 2023 Second Round Pick

Blainville-Boisbriand Armada Acquires

– Christopher Merisier-Ortiz

Baie-Comeau Drakkar Acquires

– Andrew Belchamber

– 2021 First ROUnd Pick

– 2023 Second Round Pick

– 2023 Second Round Pick (SHA)

 

For a full list of transactions dating back to the start of the season click here.

 

Back in Action

With the Protected Environment Events just beginning the hockey will be coming fasts and furious throughout the month of February. There should be a lot of movement in the standings especially with some teams having made significant improvements to their rosters. Keep your eyes out for teams like Val-d’Or and Victoriaville to climb up the standings although there is little separation between the top eleven teams in the standings and a winning streak could drastically alter the current seeding. 

 

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As the return top play events continue we will get back to tracking the hot and cold teams and players through the league and shift our focus back to some of the upcoming 2021 draft-eligible players. Hopefully, the entire league will be back on the ice in next month’s installment and we can avoid any further pauses for the rest of the season (fingers crossed).

 

Julian Mongillo – Los Angeles Kings and QMJHL writer.

Follow me on Twitter: @JulianMongillo 

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