QMJHL Update: NHL Draft Edition

Sean Crocker

2023-06-25

Welcome to the Dobber Prospects QMJHL update for the month of June! Last update teed up the QMJHL Finals, where the Quebec Remparts edged out the Halifax Mooseheads in six games to capture the Gilles-Courteau Trophy, their first-ever QMJHL championship. They rode the wave right to the Memorial Cup, where they defeated the favourites, the Seattle Thunderbirds to capture their second Memorial Cup title. James Malatesta earned the MVP honours after stockpiling 14 goals and 20 points in 18 playoff games and five goals through four games in the Memorial Cup.

In short order, as always happens in junior hockey, the dismantling of the Remparts came swiftly by dealing away the rights to key contributors G William Rousseau and D Jeremy Langlois to the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, who figure to start out as favourites to hoist the Gilles-Courteau Trophy next year.

Although it can be a boring time of year knowing we will be deprived of meaningful hockey until the summer’s international tournaments roll around, there is still plenty to look forward to with the NHL Draft and free agency on the horizon. Now can be as good a time as any to lay down your blueprints for your fantasy leagues and plot how you will be the one who “won the draft.” Whether you are in a full redraft league or a prospect draft in a keeper or dynasty format, the most important action you can take is to do your research and maximize the impact you make with each and every pick so you can have an optimal roster, prospect pool or any of the two.

Today we will dive into the top fantasy prospects from the QMJHL who are likely to be selected in Nashville at the NHL Draft next week with a few wild cards to look into. WIthout further adieu, we will dive right in!

RW Ethan Gauthier, Drummondville Voltigeurs

Gauthier has been in the mix as the top ranked player from the Q in this draft for some time. He plays a hard-nosed style in spite of his 5-11 frame and scores goals in the ways NHL teams love, by crashing the net. His raw talent has his draft projection in the late first round, setting him up to be a second to third round pick in fantasy drafts depending on the amount of teams and formats. His foundation and hockey sense allow him to seek out loose pucks and find lanes to split defenders to force them on their backheels with his speed, allowing for his trailing teammates to take advantage of the space at the top end of the offensive zone.

While his projection could have him max out as a third liner with offensive upside, depending on the team that drafts him, he could become a solid complementary piece in a top-six group and a second powerplay unit, giving him a base of production that could make him relevant in a deeper league or for the occasional streamer. All this being said, he is still a prospect of interest if you can nab him later in your draft given his blend of skill and versatility.

LD Etienne Morin, Moncton Wildcats

The top-ranked defenceman out of the Q might be one of the rangiest players in each ranking this season. He has been ranked anywhere between number 19 on NHL Central Scouting’s North American skaters list and still on the board beyond the second round in others. All these factors in the right conditions, could make him a steal in your drafts later on. While he does not possess the safest floor of many defenders in this class, he flashed his upside this season with 72 points in 67 games, finishing second in scoring among defenders in the league, only behind Tristan Luneau. The downside to his game is his choppy transition, which results in overthinking the play in front of him to cause turnovers.

While he likely is better suited as a depth option in the NHL, he could very well see a situation as a number four to six defender with powerplay upside, but only in an ideal situation. He will be one to monitor for fantasy owners as his upside is there but will need to hone in his transition, skating and defensive play in his prime developmental years.

LW Tyler Peddle, Drummondville Voltigeurs

Similar to Gauthier, Peddle plays a hard net-driving style that lends itself well to his 6-1, 190lbs frame. He does not come without pedigree either, being drafted second overall in the 2021 QMJHL Draft.

He showcased his overall talent as a power forward in the early part of the season but cooled off in short order after the CHL Kubota Top Prospects Game, hurting his draft stock in turn. This makes for an intriguing possibility for a player with a strong hockey sense and elite puck protection, which he weaponizes when entering the offensive zone. His edge work remains a strength, making him an incredibly difficult player to defend, allowing him to win numerous battles along the board. Peddle is a natural centre, but could be better suited for the wing at the next level, as he has shown a tremendous ability and effectiveness when cutting off passing lanes and blocking shots. Overall, his offensive ceiling derives from his shot, and that will be a marquee factor when breaking into next season. With Ethan Gauthier joining the fold in Drummondville, the duo will make life hard on opponents and feed into each other’s offensive strengths. Peddle makes for a solid mid-range pick in your prospect drafts and maxes out as a top-six winger with a bottom-six floor.

RW Jan Sprynar, Rimouski Oceanic

While not ranked extensively on many draft lists, Sprynar possesses offensive talent that would be hard to ignore if you’re looking for a late round flier. He uses his hockey sense to exploit holes in the defensive line while being a very adaptive player. The one knock on his game is his defensive ability where he finds himself out of position to break up plays or create turnovers, usually resulting in a rush the other way. He would become a solid offence-exclusive option at five-on-five and on the powerplay, which is always great from a fantasy perspective. His shot is his best asset, and would effectively be a triggerman who makes a living with the man advantage.

RW Mathieu Cataford, Halifax Mooseheads

Cataford was the third member of arguably one of the best lines in junior hockey for the first half of the season, riding shotgun with Jordan Dumais and Markus Vidicek. While not nearly as dynamic as the other two, Cataford made for an excellent complementary piece on that line by wreaking havoc in front of the net and competing hard along the walls to win puck battles for his more skilled teammates. Likely to hear his name early on the second day of the draft, Cataford has the ceiling of a complementary top-six piece with flare, similar to a player of the likes of Michael Bunting. He can cause problems for opposing defenses and has the finishing ability to make himself a threat to deviate attention from his more talented linemates. His ceiling as an offensive contributor is high enough to make him worth an add in fantasy leagues. He plays a style NHL front offices clamor for and sometimes overpay for in free agency.

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Thanks for reading this month’s edition of the QMJHL update on DobberProspects. Feel free to interact with me on Twitter @seany_hockey in my mentions or direct messages! I’m always down to discuss all things QMJHL and fantasy hockey!

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