Thursday, September 20, 2012

QMJHL Season Predictions 2012-13

The QMJHL regular season is already upon us, and given the current stalemate between the NHL and NHLPA, it may be some of the best hockey we get for quite some time. That’s great news for Sea Dogs fans, who get to watch Jonathan Huberdeau weave his magic for longer than they would have expected. It’s going to be one heck of a season all around the league, with a couple of strong contenders for the Memorial Cup emerging in Halifax and Quebec, along with the highly touted Nathan MacKinnon expected to rip the Q apart en route to a potential 1st overall billing in the 2013 NHL Draft. Here are some awful predictions from someone who didn’t pay enough attention over the summer:

Maritimes Division

1. Halifax Mooseheads – A no-brainer. The Mooseheads boast a ridiculous crop of young talent and will only build on last year’s semi-final loss. A favorite to take the league.

2. Moncton Wildcats – The addition of two skilled Europeans to a roster that already boasts a great veteran core will make the Wildcats one to watch this season.

3. Acadie-Bathurst Titan – Their depth is questionable, but they have three of the best overagers in the league. Even if they’re dealt, they should be able to hover around middle of the pack in the division.

4. Saint John Sea Dogs – This should be a re-tooling year more than a full rebuild for the Dogs. They have some very strong young players, and you can never count out Huberdeau’s impact on a game.

5. PEI Rocket – They’ve got a long way to go but some strong drafting in June should give them a boost. Ben Duffy will be one of the top scorers in the league.

6. Cape Breton Screaming Eagles – Their 7th overall Import pick couldn’t even make the team out of camp. This is probably only one of their top-five worst asset management decisions in the last few seasons. At least Will Carrier will be fun to watch.

East Division

1. Quebec Remparts – They’ll go toe-to-toe with the Mooseheads for top billing in the Q all season. Grigorenko and Kucherov and Duclair and Erne oh my.

2. Rimouski Oceanic – They were a huge surprise last year, and the further development of a great crop of young players should only help their chances going forward. I’m expecting big things from Anthony De Luca.

3. Victoriaville Tigres – A few big guns up front and a tower of power in goal will ensure the Tigres are no pushovers. They’ll have their hands full to hold off the teams behind them, though.

4. Chicoutimi Sagueneens – Bounce-back years from Christopher Gibson and Charles Hudon will go a long way for  Chicoutimi, but I’m not expecting them to make much noise.

5. Baie-Comeau Drakkar – Carl Gelinas should be one of the big-time overagers this season, but the Drakkar will need young players to take big steps this season if they want to see some success.

6. Shawinigan Cataractes – The defending Memorial Cup champs went all-in last season, and it paid off. They’ll gladly rest on the laurels of last season as they begin the rebuild.

West Division

1. Gatineau Olympiques – A perennial powerhouse, they’ll return some solid veterans and have added a few talented young’uns. They should make out okay.

2. Blainville-Boisbriand Armada – I won’t make the same mistake as last year of counting these guys out. Something tells me I’ll regret not slotting them at the top.

3. Rouyn-Noranda Huskies – Overall, it’s not looking like a strong season for the West. The Huskies have a few solid pieces, though.

4. Sherbrooke Phoenix – Call me crazy, but my gut tells me the expansion franchise will turn some heads. Really looking forward to seeing what Daniel Audette can do.

5. Val-d’Or Foreurs – A fairly young squad led by Memorial Cup hero Anton Zlobin, they’re still a ways away.

6. Drummondville Voltiguers – There aren’t many angles that I can look at the coming season and think that the Volts are in for any better fortune than befell them last year. 

Photo credit: Marc Henwood/Station Nation

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