By Bob Trask and JD Lagrange – As Canadiens’ GM Kent Hughes and Special Advisor to Hockey Ops Vincent Lecavalier met the media earlier today, they informed us that all scouts and hockey ops are meeting tonight to narrow down their choices. Shane Wright, Juraj Slafkovsky and Logan Cooley are the three front runners to be selected by the Canadiens first overall this coming Thursday. But there are more decisions to make as the Canadiens currently hold 14 picks for the 2022 draft.
It hasn’t always been the case. In fact, the QMJHL has been the poor boy of the CHL for many years now, as the OHL and WHL have remained relatively steady over the years when it comes to draft picks. But this year appears to have some potential for French Canadian prospects as the draft approaches.
For the first few, we have included some comments from Central Scouting’s Jean-Francois Damphousse, as well as Bob Trask’s comments, who follows the draft quite closely.
16 Nathan Gaucher
|Born:||Longueuil, Que||C.S. Rank:||16|
|Age:||Nov.6, 2003 (18)||Team:||Quebec Remparts|
Damphousse: “He’s the full package. He’s got the size and is a right-handed centerman who can do a lot of things on the ice. He’s good on both sides of the puck, can play really well in his own zone. He can win draws and I’ve seen him play on the wing as well at Canada’s Under-20 camp last summer. He can play physical and can do some damage on the offensive side yet is really reliable defensively.”
Bob Trask: Gaucher is a big, rugged center who came it a #27 in our initial rankings and is a Richelieu native.
20 Maveric Lamoureux
|Born:||Hawkesbury, Ont||C.S. Rank:||20|
|Age:||Jan.13, 2004 (18)||Team:||Drummondville Voltigeurs|
Damphousse: “He’s 6-foot-7 and the way he skates … it’s a rare thing. What I like is he sees the ice, sees his options, sees the center support and sees the stretch pass. Is it perfect execution-wise? Not all the time. But I see a defenseman that can adjust and play the next level.”
Bob Trask: At #33, the Canadiens could be tempted by this massive defenseman, who towers above his opponents at 6’7″. His hometown is Hawkesbury, Ontario, just across the river from La Belle Province. We have him ranked at #52 overall.
24 Tristan Luneau
|Born:||Victoriaville, Que||C.S. Rank:||24|
|DOB:||Jan.12, 2004 (18)||Team:||Gatineau Olympiques|
Damphousse: “I think it’s his brain, his hockey sense. The way he reads the game, the way he manages the puck. He’s excellent at retrieving pucks, making plays and finding his options. He’s great at escaping the plays in traffic under the hard forecheck from the opposition. Overall it’s the way he recognizes the options in front of him, and he’s an excellent defender as well. He adapted well this year playing a great two-way game. I think when we saw him as a 16-year-old we saw a lot of his offense, but he became a great two-way defender in the QMJHL this past season and there’s lots of upside to his game.”
Bob Trask: Tristan Luneau is a RD who came it at #22 overall in our initial rankings. He hails from Victoriaville, plays a position of need and could be a candidate for the 26th overall pick.
33 Noah Warren
|Born:||St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que||C.S. Rank:||33|
|Age:||Jul.15, 2004 (17)||Team:||Gatineau Olympiques|
Damphousse: “I think he does have that offensive upside. He didn’t have much power play time the past couple of years with Gatineau but I think he has some more offense in his game when you look at him play. I think he’s got really good puck skill, can manage the puck well. I think if he has a little bit more power-play opportunity, we’ll see even more offense in his game. His 24 points in 62 games this year isn’t bad considering he didn’t have any power-play time. I think he was probably trending in the right direction over the second half, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is picked at the end of the first round, top of the second round. There’s not many on the market that can play his type of game.”
Bob Trask: Next on our list, he comes in at #75 but is ranked higher on other lists. He is another big defenseman who plays the right side and he was born in Montreal.
60 Jeremy Langlois
|Born:||Ste-Brigitte-de-Laval, Que||C.S. Rank:||60|
|Age:||Sept.19, 2003 (18)||Team:||Cape Breton Eagles|
Damphousse: “Langlois of Cape Breton is an offensive-type defenseman and really smooth skater. He’s an intriguing prospect who deserves a look.”
Dobbers Prospects: Langlois is a strong positional player who takes few risks to earn his offense. That’s not to say that he’s shy on the puck because he is always involved in puck battles and is typically victorious. He provides excellent support to his goalie and defense partner, and is more capable of commanding an effective breakout than many of his teammates. With moderate offensive upside, Langlois won’t be a high-profile name come draft day, 2021, but he does have the skillset to become an effective player at the next level sooner than many in this class.
73 Jordan Dumais
|Born:||L’Île-Bizard, Que||C.S. Rank:||73|
|Age:||Apr.15, 2004||Team:||Halifax Mooseheads|
Grant McCagg: He led all first-time CHL draft-eligible prospects in both assists and total points, yet he failed to receive an invitation to the CHL Top Prospects Game. He will have to overcome size issues and continue working on his speed and endurance but there aren’t many better playmakers in this draft class. Excellent vision and puck skills.
Bob Trask: Dumais put up 109 points in the QMJHL last year. We have the undersized sniper ranked at number 80, making him a definite candidate for a 3rd round pick.
100 Marc-Andre Gaudet
|Born:||St-Ignace, NB||C.S. Rank:||100|
|Age:||Oct.24, 2003||Team:||Acadie-Bathurst Titan|
Damphousse: “Gaudet, of Acadie-Bathurst, has a big frame and he is probably a late bloomer. He provided some offense for Bathurst and ended up running the power play for them.”
Players chosen in the first round and beyond are always considered long shots but Joshua Roy was picked in the 5th round last year and looks to be a legitimate prospect. William Trudeau (4th round) and Xavier Simoneau (6th round) are two more local prospects who would be considered long shots for the Habs but have a shot at playing pro hockey.
There is a good chance the Canadiens could equal or exceed the number of local players chosen in last year’s draft. Don’t be surprised if it’s a name you weren’t expecting.
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