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QMJHL well represented on second day of 2019 NHL Draft

Aaron Bell/CHL Images

Following the first-round selections of Samuel Poulin (R1/21st, Pittsburgh) and Jakob Pelletier (R1/26th, Calgary) , the QMJHL remained a presence on Saturday afternoon during rounds 2-7 of the 2019 NHL Entry Draft in Vancouver, BC as 16 players would be selected from the league.

The Edmonton Oilers would begin that trend in the second round, selecting Halifax Mooseheads winger Raphael Lavoie at number 38. The winner of the Mike Bossy Trophy as the QMJHL’s top professional prospect for 2018-19, Lavoie is coming off a 2018-19 campaign that saw him catch fire in the second half of the year with 73 points in 62 games. He also registered 32 goals, his second consecutive 30-goal season. However, it was in the playoffs that the 18-year-old from Chambly, Quebec truly turned the league on its ear with 20 goals and 32 points as the Moose made tracks all the way to first the league final, then the Memorial Cup Final. Fittingly, the player that dons sweater number 50 in Halifax becomes the 50th player in Mooseheads history to be drafted into the NHL.

Russian blueliner Artemi Kniazev of the Chicoutimi Sagueneens would go to the San Jose Sharks with the 48th overall selection. The 18-year-old from Kazan finished second on the Sagueneens in scoring among defensemen with 34 points in 55 regular season games while also placing second among rookie defensemen in the “Q” with 13 goals. Kniazev captured bronze for Russia at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and silver at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge. A dynamic offensive player for the Sags last season, Kniazev became the first rearguard as well as the top European-born player from the QMJHL to be selected in this year’s NHL Entry Draft.

The next QMJHL player to hear his name called would also be a defenseman as the New York Islanders made Blainville-Boisbriand’s Samuel Bolduc the 57th pick in the draft. The sizeable blueliner – 6’4” and 209 lbs – shot up the NHL’s Central Scouting rankings over the course of the year, finishing the campaign first among rearguards on the Armada with 37 points in 65 games while taking on an increased role for a retooling team coming off back-to-back President Cup Final appearances in 2017 and 2018. This is the second straight year the Islanders have selected a QMJHL defensemen after picking Noah Dobson in the first round of the 2018 Draft.

The Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues closed out round two by choosing Charlottetown Islanders center Nikita Alexandrov at number 62. The 18-year-old from Burgwedel, Germany put up a 30-point improvement from his rookie campaign in Charlottetown, finishing second on the club with 61 points in 64 regular season games. A dynamic forward that showed a nose for the net in 2018-19 as evidence by his 27 goals, Alexandrov became the sixth player in the past six years to be chosen in the NHL Draft off the Islanders, joining a list that includes Daniel Spring (second round, 2015) and Pierre-Olivier Joseph (first round, 2017).

The first of four players selected from the QMJHL in round three would be Baie-Comeau Drakkar winger Nathan Legare, going to the Pittsburgh Penguins 74th overall. The 18-year-old from Montreal finished tied for second in the league with 45 regular season goals and tied for eighth in points with 87. A natural goal scorer, he also tallied four times in seven games for Team Canada at the 2019 IIHF World U18 Hockey Championship.

The Memorial Cup Champion Rouyn-Noranda Huskies would be represented later in round three when the Colorado Avalanche selected winger Alex Beaucage with the 78th pick. The 17-year-old from Trois-Rivieres, Quebec posted 39 goals and 79 points in 68 regular season games for the Huskies before registering 16 points in as many games during his club’s President Cup title run. This continues a run of eight consecutive years in which a Huskies player has been selected in the NHL Draft.

The Tampa Bay Lightning proceeded to select Saint John Sea Dogs winger Maxim Cajkovic with the 89th choice in the draft. The Slovakian forward led a young Sea Dogs squad with 46 points in 60 games. He also represented Slovakia at both the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup and 2018 IIHF World U18 Hockey Championship, averaging a point per game in each tournament. He becomes the fourth Sea Dog since 2015 to be selected by the Lightning.

The Blues went back to the “Q” with the 93rd pick to snag Rimouski Oceanic goaltender Colten Ellis. The 18-year-old from Whycocomagh, Nova Scotia posted 27 victories with three shutouts in 2018-19 while finishing second in GAA (2.47) and fifth in save percentage (.910) for a Rimouski squad that finished tied for third in fewest goals against. He also became the first Oceanic player ever selected by the Blues in the NHL Draft and the lone QMJHL netminder selected on the day.

Early in round four, the Los Angeles Kings called the name of Moncton Wildcats defenseman Jordan Spence at number 95. The 18-year-old who currently resides in Cornwall, PEI led all freshmen defensemen with 49 points in 68 regular season games. This caps off a phenomenal first year in the “Q” for Spence, who was named Rookie of the Year, Defensive Rookie of the Year and a Rookie All-Star during the league’s Golden Puck Awards.

Another dynamic QMJHL rookie was taken off the board with the 115th pick when the Toronto Maple Leafs nabbed Victoriaville Tigres center Mikhail Abramov. In 62 regular season games, the 18-year-old from Moscow, Russia registered 54 points, tied for second among rookies in the league. A preview of Abramov’s high scoring ways was on display during the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup when he racked up seven points in five games for Team Russia.

The first of two QMJHL products to be chosen in the sixth round was Abramov’s Victoriaville linemate and fellow Russian, winger Egor Serdyuk. Taken 165th overall by the Philadelphia Flyers, Serdyuk led all rookies in the league last year with 65 points, including 25 goals, in 63 games. Like Abramov, the 18-year-old from Novosibirsk was named to the QMJHL Rookie All-Star Squad.

The New York Islanders selected their second QMJHLer in round six when they took Quebec Remparts center Felix Bibeau with the 178th pick. Bibeau had a dream season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in 2018-19, posting 69 points in 63 regular season games, followed by 14 goals and 29 points in the postseason, which included a seven-game goal-scoring streak. Chosen in his third year of NHL Draft eligibility, Bibeau was dealt to the Remparts earlier this month.

QMJHL reps would end the draft on a high note with four players chosen in the seventh round. The first pick went to Ottawa at number 187, who proceeded to take Val d’Or Foreurs defenseman Maxence Guenette. A first-round pick of the Foreurs in 2017, the 17-year-old from L’Ancienne Lorette, Quebec saw a 20-point improvement over his rookie campaign in Val d’Or with 32 points in 68 games. He also earned a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Another third-year eligible player would be taken with the 201st pick when the Montreal Canadiens snagged Chicoutimi Sagueneens winger Rafael Harvey-Pinard. The 20-year-old from Jonquiere, Quebec 118 total points last year as he captained the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies to a national title. Traded to his hometown Sagueneens at this year’s QMJHL Draft, Harvey-Pinard has registered 184 points in 186 regular season games in the “Q”.

The Shawinigan Cataractes saw one of their players selected in the NHL Entry Draft for the first time since 2016 when the Arizona Coyotes chose Swiss center Valentin Nussbaumer 207th overall. The 18-year-old produced 38 points in 58 games for a Cataractes squad that clinched a playoff berth on the final day of the regular season. Nussbaumer also recorded three points in seven games at the 2019 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship for a Team Switzerland squad that made a surprising run to the bronze medal game.

The QMJHL closed out the draft when the St Louis Blues picked Val d’Or Foreurs winger Jeremy Michel with the 217th and final choice. The 18-year-old from Levis, Quebec finished fourth in team scoring with 42 points in 64 regular season games. A first-round pick of the Foreurs at the 2017 QMJHL Draft, Michel becomes the first QMJHL to be selected with the final pick in the NHL Draft since 2000, when Rouyn-Noranda Huskies defenseman Louis Mandeville and Montreal Rocket blueliner Lauri Kinos were taken with the final two selections at that event.

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