The 2016 NHL Entry Draft will see a number of QMJHL players take that next step towards a career in the NHL.
While Pierre-Luc Dubois and Evan Fitzpatrick have been the focal points heading in the Draft given they are the top rated prospects in their respective categories, they aren’t the only coveted QMJHL players poised to hear their name called in Buffalo this weekend.
Julien Gauthier LW | Val-d’Or Foreurs | No. 12 – North American Skaters
The QMJHL forward not named Dubois who turned a lot of heads in 2015-16 was Julien Gauthier of the Val-d’Or Foreurs. Actually ranked ahead of Dubois in the midterm rankings at No. 4, Gauthier saw his tumble to No. 12 in the final rankings. That being said, any way you slice it, scoring 41 goals in 54 games is impressive. This winger can score goals and standing at 6-foot-3 and tipping the scales at 230 pounds while blessed with great skating ability, Gauthier is a power forward in waiting, making him a more than intriguing prospect for any NHL team.
Pascal Laberge C | Victoriaville Tigres | No. 28 – North American Skaters
Victoriaville Tigres centreman Pascal Laberge saw his stock climb from No. 31 to No. 28 heading into this draft. Among his season highlights was being named the first star of the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game after scoring two goals and an assist in a 3-2 win for Team Orr. Laberge’s breakout season saw him post 23 goals and 45 assists for 68 points in 56 games for the Tigres – more than twice his output of a year ago. Likened by some to Simon Gagne, Laberge is expected to be a late first round pick, meaning he may end up on one of the NHL’s top teams.
Vitaly Abramov RW | Gatineau Olympiques | No. 29 – North American Skaters
The poster boy for stock boosting to close out this season, Vitaly Abramov of the Gatineau Olympiques enjoyed a meteoric rise from No. 56 in the midterm ranking all the way to No. 29. The ultra-skilled winger may stand only 5-foot-9, but his upside more than makes up for it. He exploded for 93 points this season on the strength of 38 goals and 55 assists in 63 games for the Olympiques on his way to earning QMJHL Rookie of the Year honours. He then followed that up with a strong showing in the playoffs with 13 points in 10 games.
Frederic Allard D | Chicoutimi Sagueneens | No. 32 – North American Skaters
The Q also has its share of blue line prospects in this year’s crop, led by Frederic Allard of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. After posting modest numbers in his first QMJHL campaigns (23 and 30 points), Allard sure picked the right time to blossom, racking up 14 goals and 45 assists this season for the Sags, tying him for second among QMJHL d-men. He boosted by four spots since January and brings the type of all-around game and leadership many NHL teams will be looking for this weekend. Seeing him picked after the second round would be a shock.
Samuel Girard D | Shawinigan Cataractes | No. 38 – North American Skaters
The defensive gems don’t end there for the QMJHL, as Samuel Girard of the Shawinigan Cataractes is also not expected to have to wait very long to hear his name called. The top scoring d-man in the league with 74 points, he earned top defenceman honours and most sportsmanlike player at the QMJHL Golden Pucks Awards. Girard then followed up his amazing season by leading his Cataractes to the President Cup Final with 22 points in 21 games. While his height of 5-foot-9 might deter some teams, not picking Girard may prove to be among the biggest mistakes made at this year’s draft.
Luke Green D | Saint John Sea Dogs | No. 40 – North American Skaters
Rounding the trio of intriguing d-men the QMJHL has available this year is Luke Green of the Saint John Sea Dogs. The former top pick in the 2014 QMJHL Draft, Green is also just the latest rearguard produced by Sea Dogs to draw major interest from NHL teams. Teammates Jakob Zboril (Boston Bruins) and Thomas Chabot (Ottawa Senators) were top 20 picks at last year’s NHL Draft. A 6-foot-1 rearguard, who put up 10 goals and 25 assists this season for the Sea Dogs, Green is expected to be snatched up by around the third round of the Draft his weekend.
Antoine Samuel G | Baie-Comeau Drakkar | No. 7 – North American Goalies
Dealt from the Shawinigan Cataractes to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in January going from one of the League’s top teams to one mired in the League’s cellar, goaltender Antoine Samuel kept on working hard and that didn’t go unnoticed by scouts. The 6-foot-2 goalie saw his stock rise from No. 13 among North American goalies to No. 7. His Draft prognosis has him being chosen in the mid to later rounds, meaning Samuel could be in for a nail-biting Day 2 on Saturday.
Other names to watch:
Vladimir Kuznetsov RW | Acadie-Bathurst Titan | No. 55 – North American Skaters
Gabriel Sylvestre D | Shawinigan Cataractes | No. 76 – North American Skaters
Otto Somppi C | Halifax Mooseheads | No. 78 – North American Skaters
Brandon Gignac C | Shawinigan Cataractes | No. 98 – North American Skaters
Daniil Miromanov LW | Acadie-Bathurst Titan | No. 105 – North American Skaters
Jacob Neveu D | Rouyn-Noranda Huskies | No. 107 – North American Skaters
Mathieu Sevigny LW | Drummondville Voltigeurs | No. 120 – North American Skaters
Gabriel Bilodeau D | Gatineau Olympiques | No. 133 – North American Skaters
Maxime Fortier RW | Halifax Mooseheads | No. 145 – North American Skaters
William Bower C | Moncton Wildcats | No. 153 – North American Skaters
Samuel Laberge LW | Rimouski Oceanic | No. 158 – North American Skaters
Nathan Noel C | Saint John Sea Dogs | No. 171 – North American Skaters
Jeffrey Truchon-Viel LW | Acadie-Bathurst Titan | No. 181 – North American Skaters