Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Observations from the draft (part one)

By: Lorne Webster | SN Staff

  • The QMJHL’s staff - notably the Commissioner - and television partners must have been ready to pull their hair out during a two-and-a-half-hours long first round, in which several trades – including a couple changing hands twice in the span of minutes – resulted in having only pick No. 1 (Halifax) and No. 19 (Rouyn-Noranda) utilized by the team originally slated to draft in those positions. Halifax, Baie-Comeau and Chicoutimi were key players in an extremely active trading session, which completely reshuffled the deck of round one.
  • Kudos to Cam Russell and the Mooseheads for making bold moves to expedite their rebuild by making trades to allow them to select the top rated forward (Benoit-Olivier Groulx - 1(1)), top rated defenseman (Jared McIsaac – 1(2)), second rated goaltender (Alexis Gravel – 2(20)) and top rated US player (Jake Wise – 7(111)). It felt like déjà vu all over again when Halifax and Baie-Comeau brought back memories of the Nathan MacKinnon/Jonathan Drouin draft.
  • Baie-Comeau also made a series of trades, which resulted in four first round draft choices – Gabriel Fortier (4 – brother of Moosehead Maxime), Xavier Bouchard (5 - son of Rouyn-Noranda coach/GM Gilles), Shawn Element (9) and Edouard St-Laurent (16). However, Baie-Comeau did not make another selection until the sixth round. 
  • Chicoutimi was also very active - but it might take a Philadelphia lawyer or forensic accountant a few days to figure out all of their gives and takes.
  • Based primarily on the reaction from the Sea Dogs draft table, Darrell Young, Danny Flynn et al were extremely surprised (bordering on shocked) to hear Sherbrooke select Saint John Vito’s standout Anderson MacDonald at No. 10 – one pick ahead of Saint John. MacDonald and his supporters likely were equally surprised as he did not look happy when he passed the Sea Dogs’ table. Despite rumblings that MacDonald was seriously considering opportunities in the USA and Europe – and with highly rated defensemen still available – Sherbrooke made the move to choose the power forward. It will be interesting to see how that scenario plays out.
  • After calling a time out to regroup, the Sea Dogs selected Olivier Mathieu - the Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League’s leading rookie scorer. Many had speculated that Saint John would choose Dartmouth power forward Andrew Coxhead - if still available and MacDonald was chosen before the Sea Dogs slot. But reports circulated prior to the draft that Coxhead was heading to a US prep school in the fall - which appeared to influence a few teams, including Saint John. Coxhead was subsequently selected by Quebec at No. 14. When Coxhead did not go on stage, there were conflicting reports as to whether he was even in the building.
  • The Sea Dogs created the largest waves in round two, when they made a trade with Chicoutimi to acquire pick No. 32 and selected Shane Bowers (Waterloo – USHL). Bowers was a re-entry player who did not report to Cape Breton after being chosen fourth overall in 2015. Despite suggestions of a pre-arranged deal between the Bowers family and Saint John, GM Darrell Young was adamant in pre-draft and post-draft interviews with Station Nation and others that he had not spoken with Bowers or his support group since last year. This was clearly a calculated gamble that could pay off in a big way, IF Bowers - arguably the top available prospect in the 2016 draft - agrees to sign with Saint John. The thoughts of having Joe Veleno and Shane Bowers playing together are extremely exciting.
  • During the fourth round, Saint John completed a trade with Val-d’Or by sending left wing – and Detroit Red Wings prospect – Adam Marsh to the Foreurs, along with pick No. 87 in round five, in exchange for pick No. 72 in round four as well as a second round selection in 2018. 
  • The Sea Dogs also appeared to be surprised in round four when Cape Breton selected Oliver Wahlstrom – the second rated US player from Sweden via Maine – at No. 68, just one pick ahead of Saint John’s selection.  Wahlstrom recently signed a letter of intent with Harvard University after initially committing to the University of Maine in grade seven - which made him one of the youngest players to ever make a NCAA commitment.
  • There were several QMJHL family connections associated with the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft. Amongst the players selected were sons of notable coaches. Besides Gilles Bouchard’s son Xavier to Baie-Comeau at No. 5, Benoit Groulx – former Gatineau coach/GM and current head coach of Syracuse (AHL) – was beaming when his son Benoit-Olivier was selected first overall by Halifax.  Later in the draft, new Halifax head coach Andre (‘Bear’) Tourigny had the pleasure of seeing his sons, G Jean-Philippe and C Felix-Antoine, drafted at 145 and 146, respectively, by Rouyn-Noranda. The Sea Dogs also selected Matthew Steinburg – son of current Saint Mary’s University head coach (and former NHL first round draft choice) Trevor Steinburg – in the tenth round (177).
  • There were also several brothers of current QMJHL players and/or prospects selected as well. Of those with ties to the Sea Dogs, Felix Pare – younger brother of Saint John’s 2015 first round (10th overall) selection, Cedric – was chosen in the third round (No. 38). Then it was Moncton’s turn to add brothers with Saint John connections. The Wildcats first choice of the day, which wasn’t until No. 50 in the third round, was Noah Massie – whose older brother Jake is a prospect for Saint John and the Chicago Blackhawks. Moncton added a third Massie brother, Dylan, in the 12th round (No. 211). It would be fun to see the older Massie come to Saint John to play against his kid brothers – but the chances likely are slim, given Jake’s commitment to the University of Vermont. Also, in the sixth round (No. 104), Moncton added Clark Webster – little brother to Sea Dogs’ defensive stalwart Bailey Webster.  

No comments:

Post a Comment