Saturday, June 2, 2018

Sea Dogs make three picks in first round

SHAWINIGAN, Que. - The Saint John Sea Dogs went heavy on defence in this year's first round.

The Sea Dogs used both of their top 10 picks in the 2018 QMJHL Entry Draft to select defenceman, taking William Villeneuve second overall and Jeremy Poirier eighth overall.

Villeneuve was widely believed to be heading to Saint John after the Chicoutimi Sagueneens took Hendrix Lapierre with the first overall pick.

Villeneuve recorded nine goals and 25 assists in 40 games with the Quebec Midget AAA Hockey League's Magog Cantonniers last year. He added four goals and 15 points in 18 playoff games.

The 16-year-old is listed at 6'1" and 154 lbs.

"A right-handed offensive defenseman, he is able to get involved regularly on the attack when an opportunity arises, not hesitating to carry the puck from his own zone and support his forwards by offering options to them during counter-attacks," write HockeyProspect.com. "Excellent from the opposite blue line, he is particularly effective on the power play, where he is very active with the puck."

At No. 8, the Dogs picked up Poirer, a 6'0," 176 lbs defender who played with the Ch√Ęteauguay Grenadiers last year. In 50 games, Poirier had five goals and 26 assists. He added a goal and five assists in 13 playoff games.

"Poirier has a very good transition game with his smooth skating and good first pass, he reads the game very well in front of him and is able to identify the right player to pass the puck to on the rush (or choose not to)," writes HockeyProspect.com. "He is also calm while in possession of a puck, and does not cause a lot of turnovers under pressure. One thing that Poirier improved during the season was his decision-making, which further enhances the quality of player he is."

Saint John acquired the eighth overall pick in the trade that sent Joe Veleno to the Drummondville Voltigeurs during the holiday trade period.

Saint John did pick a forward in the first round - and it was an interesting one. With the 15th overall pick, the Sea Dogs selected Fredericton native Josh Lawrence, a Boston University commit who spent last season playing with Selects Hockey Academy under-16 team in Connecticut.

Will he report to Saint John? That's the big question. As we all know, the Sea Dogs have not had good luck in that department in recent years - even with Maritime born players. It's a risk - but a low one. It was a late first round pick, and if he doesn't report, the Sea Dogs will receive a compensation pick next year.

"His best tools are his hands; he knows how to score goals and his hands are quick," write HP. "He has a quick release and can beat guys one-on-one with his puck skills. He’ll need to improve his skating; he has decent speed and can change speeds when rushing pucks, but he lacks some explosiveness."

Lawrence had 27 goals and 56 assists in 49 games last year.

The Sea Dogs acquired the 15th overall pick on Friday in the deal that saw Cedric Pare traded to the Rimouski Oceanic.

This marked the first time Saint John had picked in the first round of the Entry Draft since 2016. This was also the highest the Sea Dogs have selected since picking Veleno first overall in 2015.

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