NHL Central Scouting recently released their initial draft rankings for the year, and 34 Quebec Junior Major Hockey League players were on that list. Swiss-born Nico Hischier of the Halifax Mooseheads was one of only two players to receive an “A” rating on this inaugural list, while the majority received “C” ratings.
A closer look at a few intriguing talents.
Maxime Comtois: The number one ranked Quebec born player in the draft. The belle of the ball, except Comtois is more like a beast on blades. The 6-2 201 pounder has all the skills and intangibles that make scout's salivate. His poise and leadership is second to none, as is his goal-scoring and release. He isn't the fastest player on the ice, but he is a powerful skater and deft puck-handler. He is in a sense, an ideal prototype of a prospect. He has the body of work including national team success, and the aforementioned physical and mental makeup to succeed in the NHL. The former Chateauguay Grenadiers will be a top-ten (five) NHL draft pick.
Antoine Morand: Morand had been Comtois' playmaker since their Bantam AAA days, until they separated heading into the Q. The chemistry Morand and Comtois have due to their contrasting styles of play is a treat to watch. Unfortunately those days are over barring a trade of some sort, as Morand was actually drafted one pick ahead of Comtois at second overall in 2015. The diminutive centerman is highly skilled, and an above average skater. He gets around the ice in a hurry, as the puck seems to be on a thread as he weaves through the opponent. Can finish plays from in close, but is a near elite level playmaker. 50 points, including 36 assists in 48 games was quite impressive as a rookie, so Morand holds his draft destiny in his own hands with his performance this season.
Pavel Koltygin: A versatile forward with the skills to boot, Koltygin is off to a hot start with six points in his first five CHL games. It isn't a big surprise, seeing as how the ninth overall Import Draft selection played in the U18 MHL last year. But, it is definitely a good sign going forward. The Voltigeur center was recently described by Drummondville General Manager Dominique Ducharme as being “very strong on the puck, hard to stop when he gets going”. He's a mid to late round pick at this point, but if he keeps on this path, he will move right up those rankings.
Yaroslav Alexeyev: One of the many “C” rated players, the 12th overall pick in the CHL Import Draft may just stand at 5-9 148 lbs, but he is very shifty, and always seems to find a path to the net. Alexeyev goes full speed ahead into traffic with the puck on his stick, and is a hungry goal-seeker. He is a focused athlete who isn't afraid of a challenge. How hard he works until Spring, and a little puck-luck will determine if he ends up as anything more than a late-round flyer.
Rafael Harvey-Pinard: A name you won't see on that list, but a name you will find at the end of the season. The first-year draft eligible forward recorded the first goal of the entire QMJHL season, and hasn't looked back with as many points as he has games played (5). He may be 5-7 140 lbs, but you couldn't tell if you didn't look at the game sheet. He will make whatever play is necessary to help the team win, including getting dirty down-low, or posting up in front of the net. He has a quick stick, and quick feet to match, so the Rouyn-Noranda forward should continue to put up the points as he gets even more accustomed to the level of play at the junior major level.
Alex Krief: The 6-4 former Lac St-Louis Lion (Midget AAA) is a good skater, with a nice skill level; Chicoutimi saw that when the drafted him 16th overall in 2015. His decision making is no doubt the most questionable part of his game; Chicoutimi also saw that and traded him to Sherbrooke, as he tends to be a little over-confident in the choices he sometimes makes. Krief could bring the complete physical package, but it's a matter of him refining his game and pushing his athletic talents even further as he learns to pick his spots better. He's a flyer at this point, but could move up based on showing signs of improvement.
Honourable Mention of the already drafted Mathieu Joseph: The Saint John winger has come a long way since cracking the Q four seasons ago. He began as a depth player who had the energy, but just not enough finish around the net (one goal in 30 games), and was also a tad timid (10 penalty minutes). A 20-goal improvement in year two (46 PIMs) led to a monstrous 73 point (plus-35) campaign a year ago for the powerhouse Sea Dogs. The Tampa Bay fourth-rounder has started 2016 on a tear, with eight points in just a trio of games. It's early, but that's a 150 point pace. If Joseph can further develop the finer details of the game it will go a long way into his transition to the pro game a year from now.
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