It’s hard to believe Jonathan Drouin didn’t feel ready for the QMJHL a year ago.
The second overall pick in the 2011 Quebec league draft, Drouin elected not to report to the Halifax Mooseheads’ training camp because he felt it would be better to spend one more year playing midget hockey. After tearing up the Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League to the tune of 50 points in 21 games with the Lac St-Louis Lions, Drouin had a change of heart.
He joined the Mooseheads in early December and went on to record 29 points in 33 regular season games. He took his game to another level in the playoffs, scoring nine goals and 17 assists in 17 games, making him the sixth-highest scorer in the league despite only making it to the third round.
Drouin carried that momentum into the summer, helping Canada win gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Under-18 tournament in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. The five-foot-11, 176-pound forward was fourth in Canadian scoring with five assists in four games.
He rode that wave into the 2012-13 QMJHL season, producing 15 points in his first seven games. Drouin is now one of the biggest stars in the league at just 17 years old.
“He’s an elite player,” said Mooseheads head coach Dominique Ducharne. “He’s a great passer, he has incredible hands, he can score goals and he’s one of our hardest workers. He’s a complete player and he’s doing things at 17 years old that most veterans can’t do.”
Drouin has also formed a strong partnership with fellow star forward Nathan MacKinnon. Their line was virtually unstoppable in last year’s playoffs and they are even better this season.
“It’s a perfect situation,” Drouin said. “I have great chemistry with Nathan so I want to keep that going.”
MacKinnon has been the consensus favourite to go first overall in the 2013 NHL draft for some time now, but Drouin has now moved into the upper echelon as well. The independent scouting service Red Line Report ranks him as the No. 8 overall prospect for the upcoming draft and many believe he could climb into the top five with more strong play.
“I’m just focusing on what I’m trying to do out there,” Drouin said. “You can’t get distracted by any of that.
“I’ll just see what happens. I’ll just try to do my best again and see what happens at the end.”