QMJHL Report – March Edition
A peek into the future
Back in October, I mentioned that it should come as no surprise if Alexis Lafreniere becomes one of the league's most prolific scorers, but no one could have expected this.
The QMJHL's 2017 first-overall pick became the first 16-year-old to score 40 goals since another Rimouski star did it back in 2003-04 when Sidney Crosby hit the mark. Lafreniere has 42 goals and 36 assists for 78 points in 57 games this year; 40 points would have been an impressive season, but 40 goals is truly amazing. Almost as jaw-dropping is the fact that the Oceanic forward isn't even eligible for the 2019 NHL draft. Due to his birthday (and barring any unforeseen events) NHL teams will have to wait to tank as Lafreniere will be the first-overall pick in the 2020 NHL entry draft.
Another record-breaking goal-scorer from the QMJHL made headlines this week as Halifax Mooseheads sniper Filip Zadina scored his 40th goal of the season. Zadina becomes only the third Halifax rookie ever to accomplish that feat. The potential top-three pick in this June's NHL entry draft sits at 40 goals and 35 assists through 53 games.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Filip Zadina becomes the third rookie in Mooseheads history to reach the 40 goal plateau. Nagy (71), Ehlers (49) <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoMooseGo?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoMooseGo</a> <a href="https://t.co/QQxrC4I7Qy">pic.twitter.com/QQxrC4I7Qy</a></p>— Halifax Mooseheads (@HFXMooseheads) <a href="https://twitter.com/HFXMooseheads/status/971185333068095488?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 7, 2018</a></blockquote>
The QMJHL's 2015 first-overall pick Joseph Veleno now sits third in the league with 53 assists and leads the league with 30 helpers with a man-advantage. He has seen a boost of offense since the trade to Drummondville already scoring eight more points in three fewer games, including a 20-point swing in the plus-minus column. Veleno has seen his stock drop since being touted as a potential first-overall NHL selection at the time he was given exceptional status to compete in the Q at the age of 15. He is currently ranked the 13th best North American skater, but could rise given a strong conclusion to his season.
Looking ahead to this year's QMJHL Midget entry draft, Josh Lawrence of the Selects Hockey Academy is the top ranked player. The Fredericton, New Brunswick native has 81 points in 47 games this season, averaged over two points-per-game in Bantam and has always performed under the spotlight. Lawrence plans to attend Boston University starting 2020.
Hendrix Lapierre of the Gatineau Intrepide is also in the discussion to be the first named called in June. Lapierre is a big, skilled center who has a terrific release and can carry the puck into the most important areas of the ice.
Patrick Guay is another slick scorer who has a real shot at being picked first. The Magog Cantonniers centerman is very quick, agile and skates with the puck on a string. He easily weaves in and out of traffic and is especially dangerous on the power-play (second in the league with 11 goals). He even scored two short-handed markers this season and is up to 16 points in eight playoff games (still in progress).
Jeremie Poirier is a fantastic defenseman who played at the Midget level as a 14-year-old exception. Poirier skates like the wind, has good size and is a very smart player. He also brings the hammer from the point with a very heavy shot.
William Villeneuve is another swift-skating defenseman from Quebec Midget AAA. Guay's teammate in Magog has 34 points including nine goals from the blueline due to his good shot and dynamic offensive playmaking.
Another name to remember (though a long shot to be first) is Thomas Bordeleau. The son of former Montreal Canadien Sebastien Bordeleau skates well, scored 26 goals in 38 games and plays a strong 200-foot game.
Regardless of where these talented young players go in the draft, they will all be terrific additions to whichever QMJHL clubs are lucky enough to nab them. It will be exciting to see how the future plays out.
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