The QMJHL had a banner year last year with the Halifax Mooseheads dominating the CHL en route to a Memorial Cup victory in Saskatoon. The “Q” also saw six players taken in the first round and produced a total of 31 players overall. The 2014 draft class certainly does not have the star power of 2013, but there are a few players who could be top 15 selections come June.
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1. Ivan Barbashev (C/LW) Moncton Wildcats
He was the first overall pick in the 2012 CHL Import Draft and showed the individual skills that should make him a dominant player once again this year for Moncton. Barbashev recorded 18 goals, 44 assists for 62 points in his rookie campaign. He’s an excellent playmaker and a good puck handler. He had the tendency to use his backhand more than other players, which catches goaltenders off guard. Barbashev is solid in his own zone but too many times forces the play when on the attack. His confidence can get him into trouble. Overall, I believe if he continues to grow and has stellar year with the Wildcats he’ll put himself in the running to be selected in the top 10.
2. Alexis Pépin (LW) Charlottetown Islanders
He’s a big, strong center who uses his 6’2, 220 plus pound frame to his advantage. He’s not the flashiest player but he has great hands and great hockey sense. His skating needs improvement, which will come with time, but I also think he needs to get into better shape. He finished last season with P.E.I (now Charlottetown) around 205 pounds and came to Ivan Hlinka Tournament weighing 238 pounds. His ideal playing weight should be around 215-220 pounds in my opinion. He should have a monster year with the Islanders and could be a top 15 pick come June.
3. Clark Bishop (C) Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
He maybe a tad bit high on my list, but I see him as a big riser if he has a strong year in Cape Breton. He has good tools like his skating, hockey sense, and awareness in all three zones. He has excellent passing skills and his shooting skills are pretty good too. Bishop loves to throw his weight around. He didn’t have the best rookie campaign last year with the Screaming Eagles, but that shouldn’t deter scouts from taking a look at him. It’s hard to say where Bishop, let alone all of these draft eligible prospects will land, but he could very well sneak into the first round. I think playing with Russian import Maxim Lazarev this season could help his production.
4. Duncan MacIntyre (D) Quebec Remparts
He could have been a top 60 selection last year if he was of age. I really like this defender a lot. He’s a good puck rusher and he’s responsible in his own zone. He can flat out do it all out on the ice. He has potential go anywhere from the the first to second round.
5. Mason McDonald (G) Acadie-Bathhurst Titan
Already he’s one of the best goaltending prospects for the draft and could be the first goalie off the board come June. He’s big (6’3), smart, and moves incredibly well for his size. I haven’t seen much of McDonald play, like many of these prospects from Quebec, but he has the pedigree and tools to be drafted. From the very few tapes I’ve watched he’s a gifted passer too. He has first round potential, but more likely will go in the second round.
6. Carl Neill (D) Sherbrooke Phoenix
Not the flashiest defender out there, but he has smooth hands and always seems to be in the right position. He’s a good skater and he’s very smart without the puck. Any offense you can get from him is a plus. I like his size at 6’1, 194 pounds.
7. Matthew Highmore (C) Saint John Sea Dogs
He didn’t play much last year as a 16-year old with Saint John, but I believe he’s going to be a good player. He’s a great skater who plays defense first, which is great to see in any young player. He has an NHL upside to his game, but he’ll need to capitalize this season with the minutes he’ll surely receive on a weak Sea Dogs team. It would serve him well to add some muscle, but you can say the same for just about any 17-year old prospect. I would not be shocked if he has a breakout season.
8. Olivier Leblanc (D) Saint John Sea Dogs
Smart. Smooth. Poised. Three words to describe Olivier Leblanc. He’s more of a defensive defenseman but can put up points when called upon. Some say he’s the smartest defender in QMJHL. He also has a bit of a mean streak. Right now, he’s probably a second to third round pick. The only drawback is his size at 5’11.
9. Nicolas Aubé-Kubel (RW) Val d’Or Foreurs
I don’t know much about this player but from what I’ve read he’s natural, fluid skater with great hands. He’s also a hard worker along the boards. Aubé-Kubel has second to third round potential.
10. Julien Nantel (C) Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
I was hesitant to put him on the list since he hasn’t played a game in the QMJHL yet, but from scout’s reports He played Midget AAA last year and was a dominant two-way player. He has good hands and can play the gritty game if need be. Many QMJHL experts believe he will have huge impact as a 17 year-old this year just like Frederik Gauthier and Laurent Dauphin before him. We just have to wait and see what Nantel can do.
*This list does not include players such as Nikolaj Ehlers, Maxim Lazarev and Juraj Siska who were selected in the CHL Import Draft and will play this season in the QMJHL. These rankings are subject to change as the year progresses.