QMJHL: Preview of Canada-Russia Series in the Q

by Mike Barrett on November 4, 2016
chl-can-rus

Every month we take a closer look at some of the biggest standout prospects from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and this month happens to be that of the 14th annual Canada-Russia CHL Series. The puck drops November 7th in Prince George, British Columbia, as the Russians will play in three more games across the WHL and OHL before reaching the final leg that is the QMJHL.

 

Chicoutimi will host the first game at the Centre George Vezina on November 15th, before the Russian all-stars head to Baie-Comeau for the final match on November 17th.

 

As Hockey Canada described…

 

            “The three CHL leagues selected a committee who worked hard with Hockey Canada to select    the players. A total of 21 players have been chosen. The starting roster for each games will       be announced on a future date.”

 

Here are those 21 selected players…

 

 

Jeremy Roy: After an off-season trade that cost the Armada three draft picks, Roy was in line to make a grand entrance with Joel Bouchard's squad. But that all took a turn for the worst last week when Roy was involved in a knee-on-knee collision while attempting to make a defensive play at his own blueline.

 

 

Unfortunately, it seems like Roy's season and junior career may be over, and the next competitive game he will play will be professionally within the San Jose Sharks organization.

 

Samuel Girard: The dynamic defenseman has shown why he was taken third overall in the QMJHL Midget Draft in 2014, powering his Cataractes to the top of the standings on the back of his 21 points in just 10 games played.

 

The way Girard pushes the pace tilts the ice for his team every night they're in action, and that's something that should make a difference for Team QMJHL in this series versus the skilled Russians.

Catching them on the counter-attack could provide Canada the edge needed to chalk up a pair of W's in this ever-challenging event.

 

Simon Bourque and Guillaume Brisebois: Two of the veteran defenseman of this team who have enjoyed strong starts to their seasons, Bourque and Brisebois will be counted on for their calming presence, two-way play and leadership.

 

Bourque has been on fire offensively, while his Oceanic have struggled out the gate. But good news for Canadiens fans; his 1.125 point-per-game rate puts him on pace to shatter last season's career high 46-points as he looks to turn pro at season's end.

 

They aren't exactly a smothering “D”, but Brisebois is the anchor on the blueline and his Islanders are just three wins out of first place. Charlottetown of course, boasts (by far) the league's best scoring attack led by Filip Chlapik's 14 goals and 25 points in 14 games.

 

Forwards

 

Up front we have three power forward types, with the high-end skills to match. Two first round picks, and an upcoming first-rounder no doubt.

 

Julien Gauthier: The 6'4 224 pounder had a strong off-season with the Hurricanes after being 21st overall in the 2016 NHL entry draft, but returned to Val d' Or with a common case of the after-camp blues. Gauthier couldn't find the scoresheet for the first three games of the season, until turning it on with eight points in his next four outings. He now sits at 12 points in 11 games, but these sequences are far from unusual for sniper, who will need to work on his level of consistency over the course of the season if he hopes to match his 41-goal, 57-point output from a season ago. 

 

Pierre-Luc Dubois: Speaking about post-camp hangovers…

 

The Columbus Blue Jackets stunned the hockey world when they took P-L Dubois third overall instead of Jesse Puljujarvi. Though no one deemed it to be bad, the move hasn't exactly glistened just over four months later. Of course in terms of drafting we cannot truly evaluate anything until years down the line. But, as this is a monthly feature, we are looking at the now and right now Dubois has one goal on the season in the QMJHL while Puljujarvi has one less point in the NHL.

 

While he did record an assist in his first game back in the Q, it took Dubois six games to finally score his one and only, and hasn't found twine since.

 

The Screaming Eagles certainly need him to turn it around, and if he doesn't do it in the week leading up to this series, Cape Breton is hoping a little international competition may be the spark needed to flip the script for their leader.

 

Maxime Comtois: The young gun of the bunch, but not so different from his elders.

 

Aside from a five game stretch with as many points, Comtois' name has far too sporadically found it's way to the box score to kick off his draft year.

 

Five goals in 18 games isn't enough for such a talented scorer, and knowing the passion that the top prospect plays with no one is more frustrated than he is. Especially during his current seven-game goal-less drought. The good thing about the Tigres winger is that aside from scoring he brings a lot to the table for his team.

 

Though he is just 17 years of age, he is a natural leader who won't hesitate to mix it up with anybody. Comtois inspires teammates with fire in his eyes, his attention to detail and desire to win. 

 

Fortunately, the team's veteran players have stepped it up during Comtois' slow start and Victoriaville ranks top 10 in overall league standings, and goals for.

 

There is no question that he will break out of this slump, and start terrorizing goalies again. It's only a matter of when at this point. Like Dubois, maybe a date with the Russians will up the ante and turn the tide on what has started as an uneven season for the potential top-five pick.

 

 

Follow me @MikeBarrett_ for regular QMJHL and prospect updates.