QMJHL Cup Notebook
Posted on May 2, 2022
Before we dive into this one, kudos to the QMJHL for putting off a world-class event this past weekend in Boisbriand, QC. The hockey was top notch and the venue was very suitable. Bookending things with a QMJHL game and a league information session were nice touches. All-in-all, a great event and a great first experience for me in the CSR role at this event. Thank you.
Day 1 – April 28th Notes
*** Not having these games streamed is a real bummer, but there were a lot of Twitter feeds that were actively updating. Hockey PEI did an excellent job with this!
*** From a scouting perspective, this event venue is like heaven. Such a great vantage point to take in a game, vs the Monctonian where you’re sitting on a little bench amongst grandmas, grandpas and people who are looking over your shoulder trying to read your notes. I love parents as much as the next guy, but having a chat with colleagues about players as the action is happening is great.
*** Matty Butler and Will Shields were a dynamic duo in this match, much like Batman and Robin or Lloyd Christmas and Harry Dunn (younger generation are like who the hell are these people). Butler added multiple assists in this game, with numerous beautiful looks below the goal line to Shields, who has an absolute hammer or a shot and should be a high draft pick this summer. Butler was a dog on pucks in this game – in an event where you can’t glide for long periods of time and certainly cannot play slow, Butler played with pace and his skill took care of itself.
*** Q Grey vs Q Blue was (by far) the most entertaining game of the day, a 9-8 OT thriller that saw Q Grey bounce back from a 2 goal deficit with under 1:20 left to tie. At one point in this game, it looked as though Q Blue were going to run away with things as the score was lopsided halfway through the second period (I want to say 5-1 at one point, but all the games are jumbled in my oft-concussed brain right now)
*** Q Red came out of the gates absolutely flying against the Q Green team in the late game, overwhelming the Green defence at times. If you’re not making a hard, tape-to-tape pass against the red team, you’re going to have a hard time getting out of your own end this weekend as they were on you quickly. Poirier and Desruisseaux (red) exposed some defenceman wide in this game.
*** A goaltending duel ensued in the opening match between Q White and Q Black. Emile Beaunoyer (Black) and Gabriel D’Aigle (White) stole the show in this match, with the two highly-ranked Q Draft keepers combining for 59 saves. D’Aigle is a November 2006 birthyear, meaning he is NHL Draft eligible in 2025 which is wild considering his physical size and athleticism (6’2, 195 lbs).
Day 2 – April 29 Notes
*** Matty Butler is playing like a man on a mission. The Pinnacle Growlers forward was all over the ice in the Q Blue’s game vs Q White, throwing his body into opponents and controlling the game with the puck on his stick most of the time. Butler was the Player of the Game choice, and rightly so. Butler, Will Shields and Jacob Sanford are (by far) Blue’s best line right now and are playing big minutes. Q Blue deserve a better fate so far in this tournament – they may be 0-2, but they should be 1-1 at the very least.
*** Q Green have had a tough go of things so far, dropping a 4-0 decision to Q Black today. Black have yet to give up a goal in this event, defeating White 2-0 yesterday. Green started off slow in both games, giving up a goal in the first shift yesterday and in the first 10 minutes today. Anthony Savoie was under siege early in this contest, making several point blank saves; today must have seemed like old hat for the Northern Moose goaltender, who often sees 40+ shots a night in the NBPEI U18 Major League.
*** The schedule sets up for a potential Black v Red in the finals. Both teams are 2-0 and don’t face each other on Day 3
*** An event like this is so great for NL-born players as it gives them a chance to evaluate themselves, and see what else is out there in terms of talent outside the familiar Atlantic provinces. Putting our coaching hats on for a second – it helps us to see what players who work with VHG need to improve on over the summer months in preparation for their upcoming seasons; wherever they choose to roam.
Day 3 and 4 Notes (April 30/May 1)
*** The line of Quinn Kennedy, Reece Peitsczhe (spelling is always wrong on this one) and Connor Arseneault were dominant when together, especially on Sunday vs Q Grey. Kennedy makes everyone around him better, and has next level edgework (turning, overspeed). Even in blowout games where Green were struggling, Kennedy was the hardest back-checker and – for a thinner guy – is not shy to mix things up in the dirty areas. Give me some Quinn Kennedy shares at the draft table this year. Q Green improved as the tournament went on, dropping a close decision to Maritime mates on Team Blue Saturday and following that up with an OT loss on Sunday to Q Grey. In my opinion, Green outplayed Grey in this game and the shot clock was lopsided in favour of the Green squad. Green were the most penalized team at the event by a fairly wide margin for a tournament with such few games, which is always a recipe for trouble.
*** In my humble opinion, there is no better player in this draft class than Q Grey’s Tomas Lavoie. He has size, strength, speed, smarts, a rocket for a shot, and hit a few guys Sunday that left them crumpled in a heap. His skating is so smooth and effortless. Cape Breton will likely land the first overall pick in this years draft, and for a CB team that couldn’t keep the puck out of their net this season, Lavoie is rock solid defensively who defends with his stick very well.
*** Q Red’s Justin Poirier is like a fire hydrant on skates – or as my colleague called him – a ‘mini fridge’. I saw guys take full-on runs at Poirier this weekend (making solid body contact) and not budge him. The easiest player comparison in this draft will be Poirier and Will Shields, as both are average to slightly below average in the height department but have heat-seeking missiles down the right wing.
*** The pace of play slowed down on Sunday, which was to be expected after 4 games in 4 days. I would personally be OK with an off day in the middle of this event (hour of skills/edgework instead of a game) just to see other sides to players games and give them a break from the physicality.
*** The NL kids held their own at this event, combining for 3 goals and 7 assists for a total of 10 points. Kearsey and Butler had the way statistically with 4 points in 4 games, while Cleary and Greene each registered a point. Carter Hynes did not record a point in the event, but looked every bit the part of a Q Cup player and has improved exponentially over the course of this season. For full stats, standings and box scores, please click here for the Q Cup web site
*** If I were a GM of a Q team and Marcus Kearsey said he’d come to my organization, I’d pull the trigger on him later in Round 1. Yeah yeah everyone is going to call me a homer with this one, and go ahead. But the fact of the matter is this – he’s smart, he’s fast, and he threw a few hip checks this weekend that made me think he was Darius Kasparaitis V2.0. Kearsey is a good kid with his head on his shoulders, and according to his RNS coaches, has a great work ethic/attitude. Kearsey also finished tied for second in tournament points for a defenceman with 4, and can run a teams PP from the top of the 1-3-1. Kearsey has just enough velocity on his shot to threaten a team from the top, but is an even better distributor from there. There are some great defenceman who will be taken early in July’s draft, but I don’t see why Kearsey’s name shouldn’t be included among them. The RNS standout isn’t the biggest guy at 5’9.5 145 lbs, but with some of the other premiere defenceman in this draft class, shouldn’t the heights and weights be a mute point? If one guy is 5’9.5 and 145 but the other is 5,10 155 and one plays bigger than the other, can the argument be leveraged against Kearsey? Only time will tell.
*** How about Jacob Sanford for Q Blue? The Cole Harbour U18 AAA forward was an apple orchard for the blueshirts, picking up 8 assists and finishing 2nd in tournament scoring. Sanford was the charlie hustle on the Butler-Shields line, and made a lot of good puck decisions + moved the puck off the wall very well at this event. Sanford’s performance may have been the biggest surprise for me at this event, but it probably shouldn’t have been. Looking back at his game logs and you will see a player who had 6 multi-point games in NSU18 Major play since the calendars rolled over into 2022.
The QMJHL’s Final Draft list will be available at www.theqmjhl.ca in late May – check out the Q’s web site for more information. Keep in mind that this list is just a guide – kind of like the old Sears Wish Book or Yahoo Fantasy Football Draft Guide in August – it’s not a dead ringer to what the actual draft will look like. If you are a player reading this article, don’t put too much stock in this list! For example, Logan Crosby was rated a C by our CSR team and went 20th overall last year. It happens. Just worry about improving every day!
Also – stay tuned for my first round mock draft on here towards the end of June!