There was a time that the expression “good things come in small packages” did not necessarily apply to the world of professional hockey. But these days, it’s becoming more and more relevant.
Small players are earning the confidence of the greatest minds in hockey. The Max Domi’s and Alex Debrincat’s of this world have made a name for themselves in the NHL and paved the way for young prospects like Justin Côté, who is on track for a solid QMAAAHL season.
Birthdate | July 11, 2004
Birthplace | Salaberry-de-Valleyfield
Age | 15
Height | 5’6’’
Weight | 155 lbs
Shoots | Left
I had the chance to see Justin Côté play in Jonquière this past September and immediately I knew he would be a part of our prestigious list of prospects to watch this season. He’s definitely not the biggest guy, but everything else is there.
I was a huge fan of Daniel Brière when he was playing with the Drummondville Voltigeurs, and in this game, it was like seeing the Reds’ #14 on the ice all over again. After speaking with Eric Lecompte, his coach with the Chateauguay Grenadiers, he mentioned that this was interesting because he himself grew up playing against Brière at the time. But in his eyes, a comparison with Brad Marchard was more justified for Côté.
“Justin is a power forward despite his small size, and he loves to be very involved in the play. He’s working very hard right now to become a more complete player and we’re doing our best to help him develop these skills.”
Regarding the presence of smaller players in today’s hockey, the truth is that the physical aspect of the game is falling by the wayside, opening the door for players like Côté. Here’s what the young player himself has to say about this.
“Hockey is not like it used to be nowadays. Smaller players have a place, because hockey is much faster than before and more often than not, the play takes place in tighter spaces. If you have the strength and talent, you’ll make it, no matter your size.”
In the last NHL Entry Draft, Cole Caufield went in the first round to the Montreal Canadiens and I asked Côté if he saw the smaller American forward as an inspiration.
“Yes, definitely. Ever since I’ve heard of him, Cole Caufield has really become a model for me. He’s another player who’s proven that smaller players can succeed in today’s game.”
Asked about his strengths, the Grenadiers’ #92 mentioned that his weapon of choice is his shot, but that he loved to work on his speed and his explosiveness. His goal is to become a natural scorer and he noted that he often spends half an hour after practices to work on his shot. Knowing this, it’s not a real surprise that Côté’s favorite player is Auston Matthews.
Matthews is known for his shot and puck-handling skills, and Coté now sees him as a true role model. Not a bad model for a young prospect who will likely continue to draw attention in the QMAAAHL this season.