For the sixth time since being founded in 2005, the Saint John Sea Dogs had the honour of holding the No. 1 pick in the QMJHL Draft Saturday at Centre Vidéotron in Quebec City.
Anointed the top prospect available by the QMJHL’s CSR, the ultra-talented Joshua Roy of the Lévis Chevaliers was picked first ahead of forwards Justin Robidas of the Magog Cantonniers and Zachary L’Heureux of the Chateauguay Grenadiers, who were respectively selected by the Val-d’Or Foreurs and the Moncton Wildcats.
“This is really incredible and is one of the best days of my life. I have been waiting for this day for a long time and I want to make the most of it all,” said Roy.
PRESSURE TO DEAL WITH
The 15-year-old Beauce native, who was pegged as the top prospect prior to the draft for already a few months, was mostly relieved to finally know where he would be carrying on his hockey development
“Even though I was focused on hockey during the season, I did sense some pressure. Today this really feels like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders. The Draft is a big event!”
On Friday, his representatives from Momentum Hockey had planted a seed of doubt about the presence of their client at Centre Vidéotron this weekend. “Joshua Roy is considering all his options” was the company line being toed for a few hours.
From the sounds of it, not everything had been worked out with Sea Dogs management in the final moments leading up to the Draft. When facing the media, Roy had no interest “going there” with his comments.
“I wasn’t thinking of stuff like that. I’m a hockey player and I let my agents figure all that out. I am very happy to join the Sea Dogs organization,” insisted Roy.
ROBIDAS IS PLEASED
Because he didn’t specify what gift would come his way, Robidas wasn’t disappointed to end up in Abitibi.
“It’s pretty incredible, I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I can’t wait to get to training camp,” said son of former NHL defenceman Stephane Robidas.
Once he arrives in Val-d’Or, Robidas will be reunited with head coach Pascal Rheaume and several former Cantonniers teammates.
“Pascal is a terrific guy and I’ve played with his son. There are also a bunch of guys from Magog on the team, so I won’t feel lost at all.”
At No. 3, the Moncton Wildcats turned to Zachary L’Heureux of the Chateauguay Grenadiers who was ranked at No. 5 heading into the draft by the CSR.
“I’m very happy. The Wildcats have a great organization so this is a great outcome for me,” said L’Heureux.
Holders of the fourth overall pick, the Gatineau Olympiques selected Nova Scotia native Zach Dean, who spent this past season with the Toronto Nationals.
“It is an honour for me (to join the Olympiques). I heard only good things about that club,” said Dean.
The Shawinigan Cataractes then rounded out the Top 5 by opting for forward Olivier Nadeau of the Chevaliers. “This is simply magical. I enjoy this special day with my family. Shawinigan is a great place for me to continue my hockey journey,” said Nadeau.
A FIRST ABSENTEE
Back on stage to make their second selection of the opening round the Foreurs picked defenceman Evan Nause. The New Brunswick native out of Newbridge Academy of Dartmouth turned heads by his absence.
At No. 7, the Victoriaville Tigers turned to the vast talent pool in Quebec by picking d-man Guillaume Richard of the Séminaire St-François Blizzard.
“It’s really incredible,” said Richard who had previously expressed some interest in playing in the NCAA.
The Quebec Remparts then chose Nathan Gaucher, a right-winger from the St. Hyacinthe Gaulois. The 6-foot-2, 187-pounder has been ranked No. 12 heading into the draft.
“It’s really amazing to be drafted by the Remparts in Quebec City. Thank you to the fans and I’m looking forward to winning a Cup with you all,” he said emphatically.
Holding the No. 9 and No. 10 picks, the Sherbrooke Phoenix went with the rights to Nova Scotian Cameron Whynot who ranked 4th by Central Scouting. Whynot was not in attendance.
“Whynot is an exceptional defenceman. We selected the best player available and we will be working with Cameron and his family to sell him (on the charms of) Sherbooke,” said Phoenix GM Jocelyn Thibault.
The Phoenix then picked Israel Mianscum of the Amos Forestiers. “It’s a good feeling,” he said. In his press conference the big forward admitted that his idol was Evgeny Malkin although his own style is more tough and abrasive.
The Acadie Bathurst Titan then chose Riley Kidney who grew up playing in Cole Harbour, the same small town that produced both Sidney Crosby and Nathan McKinnon. “This is a dream come true,” said Kidney.
“We have a trade, Commissioner,” announced a member of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles organization after the club sent its No. 12 pick to the Tigres in exchange for No. 17 and No. 25. Then forward Maxime Pellerin of the Trois-Rivieres Estacades got to join his childhood favourite team.
“I live two minutes from the arena!” specified Pellerin whose father Charles is the president of the Tigres.
Then a third member of the Lévis Chevaliers was asked to walk up to the stage when the Gatineau Olympiques announced the name of blueliner Olivier Boutin.
“I’m so happy and very excited to join the Olympiques’ organization. I’m very honoured and proud here today,” said Boutin.
At No. 14, the Rimouski Oceanic nabbed forward Zachary Bolduc from the Trois-Rivieres Estacades.
“Our goal is to always pick the best player available,” said Oceanic GM, Serge Beausoleil who is confident he will be able to convince Bolduc to change his career plans in order to join the Oceanic.
THE REMPARTS MAKE A MOVE
The Baie-Comeau Drakkar send their 15th pick to the Quebec Remparts in exchange for the No. 26 and No. 53 picks as well as 2nd and 3rd round picks in 2020. That package offered up by Patrick Roy to Steve Ahern let the Remparts select forward Jacob Melanson. The product of the Pictou County Major Midget Weeks who was ranked 30th by the CSR.
“It’s an incredible feeling to be chosen by the Remparts,” said Melanson.
The Titan acquired the rights to forward Cole Huckins out of Stanstead College who stands 6-foot-3 and was ranked 40th by Central Scouting.
Then the first player out of the Midget Development network, Jeremy Langlois of the Quebec Cyclones was picked by the Screaming Eagles.
“I was stressed sitting in the stands and it was an unforgettable feeling,” said Langlois.
The Chicoutimi Saguenéens capped off the first round by picking defenceman Oscar Plandowski of Select Academy (Nova Scotia). This prospect who has committed to Quinnipack University, nonetheless, walked up to the stage and got his jersey and cap.
Six players who were hesitant about coming to the draft at all were chosen in the first round. Three of those were ultimately on hand and accepted their jerseys and caps.
In addition to Baie-Comeau who dealt their 1st pick to the Remparts, other teams without a selection in the opening round were Drummondville, Halifax, Blainville-Boisbriand and the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.
The 2020 QMJHL Draft will be held in Sherbrooke which will mark the third time in seven years that Phoenix plays host to the Draft and League Meetings.