QMJHL Report: April 2021

Julian Mongillo

2021-04-09

 

 

We are on the brink of the QMJHL finishing up their regular season and beginning their playoffs. While the league highlighted the rules and regulation changes to standings and playoff formats earlier in the season, it is evident that teams will have to be seeded by points percentage because of the variation of games played by each team. There have also been modifications made to the playoff format which will also be outlined in this article.

 

It has been a long journey to get to this point, but kudos to the league for being determined and diligent in finding innovative ways to get these young potential stars to play games and prove why they should be at the next level in the hockey hierarchy.

 

 

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Protected Environment Events Update

Seventh Protected Environment Event

This is the seventh and final protected environment event that will take place which will bring a conclusion to the regular season for the Quebec-based teams. The final event will be hosted for a second time by Sherbrooke and Victoriaville while Rouyn-Noranda and Baie-Comeau will be hosting for their first time. The event is set to take place from March 31st to April 2nd and each host city will be joined with two other teams to play a total of two games.

 

 

2021 President’s Cup Playoff Format

With the season expected to come to a close on April 2, 2021, for the Quebec-based teams and May 1, 2021, for the teams in the Maritimes Division (barring any more postponements) the League has announced its plans for the playoffs. The scenarios are slightly different as all the teams in the league will have a playoff or playoff play in games. The league has also followed the NHL’s method of keeping the playoffs within the same regions until the semi-finals.

 

Quebec Based Teams

  • The Qualifying Round will take place April 8th-15th 2021 and will see the top two seeds in the East and West Division get byes into the second round. The other remaining teams in the division will play a best-of-five series with the highest seeded team playing the lowest-seeded team.
  • The Second Round will be a best-of-seven series opposing the winners of the qualifying round to the top two seeds in each division.
  • The Quarter Finals round will see a crossover of the East and West Divison with the highest seeded team in each division playing the lower-seeded team in the opposite division.

 

Maritime Based Teams

  • All six teams from the division will make the playoffs with the three lowest seeds in the division playing in a one-game single elimination. The fifth seed will play the sixth seed on May 4th, 2021 in which the winner will play the fourth-seeded team on May 5th, 2021 in another one-game elimination scenario. The winner of the May 5th game will advance to the next round.
  • The top team in the Maritime division will play the winner of the May 5th game while second place in the division will play third place in the division. Both series will be a best-of-five series and take place from May 8th – 15th, 2021.
  • The Quarter Finals will see the two winners of the previous round play in a best-of-five series.

 

Semi-Final and President’s Cup Final

  • The Semifinals will compose of two teams from Quebec and one from the Maritimes and feature them in a six-game round-robin tournament.
  • The top two teams of the round-robin tournament will be featured in the President’s Cup Final.
  • The President’s Cup Final is set to be played three days after the final game of the round-robin semi-final tournament and conclude no later than June 15th, 2021.

This format is unorthodox and an adjustment compared to the previous format that was in place. The good news is that good teams are being rewarded with byes through some of the early rounds but on the flip side is creating parity by allowing some of the lower-seeded teams to go on a run in single-elimination games. This is likely a format that will not stick around in the future once the pandemic has subsided.

 

 

Drafted QMJHL Prospects

 

Jeremie Poirier – Defense

The Saint John blueliner has been able to put up over a point-per-game in his 27 games this season. The Calgary Flames third-round pick has shown he can be effective at both ends of the rink. He has been a bright spot for a mediocre Saint John’s team. He has proven he can be a consistent contributor offensively and could be looking to take the next step in his career in the near future at the pro level.

 

Vasili Ponomaryov – Center

Selected by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft the forward has been solid offensively for the Shawinigan Cataractes. He came into the QMJHL as an import in 2019 and has grown into a player leaned on heavily for Shawinigan to put up points. He is already signed by the Hurricanes but the Russian is a contract slide candidate and may have to wait one more year before his contract kicks in.

 

 

NHL Draft Eligibles 

 

Justin Robidas – Center

The Val- d’Or forward has benefitted from the moves made by the team at the deadline by giving him much better linemates to play with through the final month of the season. He is a B-Level prospect that has shown he can score at the Junior level with 17 goals and 34 points in his 34 games this season. Robidas is undersized at only 5-7 and will be faced with having to prove he can think his game better than his opponents to get an advantage since he won’t be able to outmuscle them.

Lucky for Robidas, undersized players don’t get left on the board based on their size as often as they used to, and having a bigger sample size of games played than some other draft-eligible players could be a big advantage for him heading into the draft. The speed and skill are there it’s just a matter of being able to bring that same effectiveness at the next level, and for what it’s worth having a former NHLer as a father should also give him the benefit of the doubt.

 

James Malatesta – Left Wing

The speedy winger is another undersized player that is offensively gifted and has a lot of skill. The 5-9 forward has wheels and can fly up and down the ice backing down opposing defenses with his crafty hands and smooth skating. He has taken a step back offensively with 22 points in 31 games this season but remains a player who needs to be respected for his shot while also possessing strong playmaking ability.

Unlike Robidas who is a centerman being an undersized winger is something that more NHL teams are willing to draft because there is less of a need to have a resounding physical presence on the wings as opposed to down the middle of the ice. At 17-years-old even if he is selected by an NHL team this year he will surely spend another year in Junior while he continues to mature before taking his game to the next level.

 

 

2021 QMJHL Draft Preview

 

Justin Gendron – Right Wing

A member of the Moncton Flyers U18 Triple-A, Gendron is a winger who possesses pure goal-scoring abilities. He uses his accurate release and hard shot to put the puck in the net. He will have to work on how to read the ice when he doesn’t have the puck on his stick and continue to get faster to get that breakaway speed that is useful for a winger to have to create separation and space. He has a strong hockey sense and has the tools to be an offensive force in the QMJHL but needs to work on the details to round out the flaws in his game.

 

Anton Topylnyckyj – Defense

The 15-year old Ukrainian blueliner is a defensive prospect who comes with a lot of hype heading into the QMJHL Draft. This is his first year playing hockey in Midget in his native New Brunswick but like many players has had a limited number of games to prove himself. He can play both sides of defense and has strong skating and a good decision-maker. His hockey sense and maturity stand out at such a young age although he has strides to make in terms of his physical play, which is expected. He has been touted as one of the best defensive prospects to come out of New Brunswick since Lukas Cormier which is some high praise for such a young skater.

 

 

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With the playoffs about to begin, it will be nice to see some meaningful hockey being played full of lots of energy and high-intensity. We will begin to shift our focus to giving you more QMJHL prospects you’ll need to know for the upcoming QMJHL draft while continuing to track the NHL draft-eligible players and where they sit heading into their draft year.

 

Julian Mongillo – Los Angeles Kings and QMJHL writer.

Follow me on Twitter: @JulianMongillo 

 

 

 

 

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