Tuesday, August 29, 2017

QMJHL's Maritimes Division features plenty of 2018 NHL Draft prospects

Joe Veleno will get all the attention in Saint John, but there are plenty of reasons to keep an eye on the Maritimes if you are following 2018 NHL Draft prospects closely.

Veleno has been a top prospect for the 2018 draft for years now, but several of the other top 2000 born players are close by - and will be playing each other regularly.

The Moncton Wildcats recently acquired Quispamsis native Anderson MacDonald from the Sherbrooke Phoenix. MacDonald was ranked 10th for the 2018 draft by Future Considerations while other draft experts have him going in the mid to late first round. Either way, he should be the highest New Brunswicker selected in a while.

The Halifax Mooseheads are loaded with talent, much like they were in 2013 when they won the Memorial Cup. The team is headlined by defenceman Jared McIsaac and import forward Filip Zadina - both of whom could be top 10 picks. The Moose also feature forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx, another projected first rounder.

In Bathurst, Noah Dobson, ranked 62nd by Future Considerations, could move his way up with a solid season.

Even if the Maritimes Division doesn't end up featuring the intense competitive balance it did a year ago, there will be plenty of talent on the ice almost every night.

The 2018 NHL Draft should be a bounce-back year for the QMJHL. In 2017, just two QMJHL players went in the opening round (although that did include the first overall selection).

Outside the Maritimes Division, Baie-Comeau's Xavier Bouchard is expected to be a 2018 first rounder.

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