It's been a very competitive start to the 2011-12 QMJHL season. While the OHL and WHL don't start their regular seasons until the NHL has opened their main training camps, the QMJHL started their season while rookie camps were going, so teams with a lot of coveted 18-20 year old prospects were at a competitive disadvantage right off the bat. But now, at the end of October, all of the NHL prospects have been returned (Kirill Kabanov was the last to arrive for the Memorial Cup host Shawinigan Cataractes), and things are getting a bit more normal in Canada's smallest major junior circuit. The Saint John Sea Dogs, full of top 2011 draft selections and the defending Memorial Cup Champions, are back on top of the Q, bolstered by the return of top prospect Jonathan Huberdeau.
The balance of the QMJHL is quite interesting: with the folding of the only American club, the Lewiston MAINEiacs, the league is a seventeen team league in which only one team will miss the post-season. Yet the league is divided into three divisions for travel purposes, and one division (TELUS East Division) is entirely composed of teams with a winning percentage above 50%. Here's a look at the league's ranking right now:
|Saint John Sea Dogs
|Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
A quick guide to the stats used: GP = Games Played; Pts = Points; W = Wins; ROW = Regulation & Overtime Wins; GD = Goal Differential; SD/G = Shot Differential Per Game; DSD/G = Dangerous Shots Per Game (QMJHL exclusive stat); PDO = Shooting Percentage + Save Percentage, mean is 1000.
The Drakkar, Tigres, Cataractes, Remparts, Saguenéens and Océanic are all members of the TELUS East Division, and make up 6 of the top 7 spots in the league standings. It's too early to tell who is the best of this bunch, although the early returns look good for Baie-Comeau and Victoriaville. What is problematic for this division is that Saint John seems to have got their mojo back with the naming of Huberdeau as captain: he's the top forward in the league, and the team has posted huge wins (often of 4 or more goals) since he came back. What is also interesting is the quite emergence of the Halifax Mooseheads, led by 16 year old phenom Nathan MacKinnon. The Mooseheads are making their push up the standings with two top 2012 Draft Prospects out with injuries (Martin Frk and Andrew Ryan).
After the jump, we'll look at the performance of the NHL prospects currently playing in the Q, with some notes on the World Junior candidates:
|Player||NHL Rights||QMJHL Club||Nat||GP||G||A||Pts||Pts/G||S||DS||S(%)||DS/G||FO(%)|
|Zack Phillips||Minnesota||Saint John||CAN||14||11||14||25||1.79||60||32||18.3||2.29||52.2|
The QMJHL is the most stat-friendly major junior circuit, so we can be a bit more detailed in our analysis here. I decided to split the centres from the wingers to show faceoff talent. Having the faceoff stats allows us to also distinguish between those who are listed as wingers but are playing centre and vice versa. Canada's WJC hopefuls are probably limited to the top 3 on this list: Bournival was the last cut from last year's team, and although he's out with an injury, is expected to recover and land a roster spot for Calgary/Edmonton. You can see a distinct separation between Bournival, Phillips and Pageau from the rest of the draft picks in every way: they average more shots and scoring chances, and have significantly higher shooting percentages. It's a small sample size, but these three appear to be legit stars in comparison. Hofflin will be on Germany's U20 team at the Division 1A level, while Sedlak could be in tough to make the Czech team as an 18 year old.
|Player||NHL Rights||QMJHL Club||Nat||GP||G||A||Pts||Pts/G||S||DS||S(%)||DS/G|
|Jonathan Huberdeau||Florida||Saint John||CAN||10||7||15||22||2.20||34||24||20.6||2.40|
|Tomas Jurco||Detroit||Saint John||SVK||13||8||10||18||1.38||46||37||17.4||2.85|
|Ryan Tesink||St. Louis||Saint John||CAN||13||6||12||18||1.38||23||17||26.1||1.31|
|Stanislav Galiev||Washington||Saint John||RUS||5||3||3||6||1.20||17||10||17.7||2.00|
|Stephen MacAulay||St. Louis||Saint John||CAN||13||4||9||13||1.00||23||15||17.4||1.15|
|Kirill Kabanov||NY Islanders||Shawinigan||RUS||3||1||2||3||1.00||14||8||7.1||2.67|
|Yannick Veilleux||St. Louis||Shawinigan||CAN||13||7||5||12||0.92||54||36||13.0||2.77|
|Logan Shaw||Florida||Cape Breton||CAN||17||1||5||6||0.35||49||18||2.0||1.06|
*Grenier is an overager and ineligible for the U20 tournament.
Huberdeau is pretty spectacular right now. He's a world class playmaker that is also getting (and making) plenty of shots right now despite having so many options to pass to. And yeah, this Saint John team is loaded. Jurco should be a top player for the Slovakian WJC team, and if healthy Galiev could really help the Russians. It is unknown if Kabanov will be considered by the Russians this time around, but he's clearly a talent that should be at that tournament. I don't see a lot of hope for any of the other Canadian wingers here beyond Huberdeau, who should be a lock for a top 6 spot. If there is going to be another winger from the Q in the mix, it'll be Nathan MacKinnon, who I'll feature on the next article.
|Player||NHL Rights||QMJHL Club||Nat||GP||G||A||Pts||Pts/G||+/-||PIM||PPG||S|
|Konrad Abelthauser||San Jose||Halifax||GER||13||2||10||12||0.92||+4||6||1||44|
|Morgan Ellis||Montreal||Cape Breton||CAN||15||4||7||11||0.73||-2||8||4||36|
|Nathan Beaulieu||Montreal||Saint John||CAN||15||4||7||11||0.73||+12||39||1||43|
|Adam Janosik||Tampa Bay||Gatineau||SVK||13||0||9||9||0.69||-2||13||0||25|
|Samuel Noreau||NY Rangers||Baie-Comeau||CAN||11||1||6||7||0.64||+8||13||0||19|
|Daniel Milan||Tampa Bay||Moncton||CAN||14||0||3||3||0.21||-4||13||0||13|
There's less to learn about D from a stat board like this, as the top players don't necessarily produce the most points. Still, Jerome Gauthier-Leduc is just embarassing the league right now. He set a league record for goal scoring-streak by a defenseman (8 games), and he's doing it without leading all D in power play goals. That distinction belongs to Brandon Gormley, whose big shot has produced all 8 of his goals on the PP. Gormley, Leduc, and Nathan Beaulieu are the three in the mix for a Canadian WJC roster spot, although perhaps the play of Carrier, Blain and Ellis have grabbed the attention of Kevin Pendergrast's scouts. Meanwhile, Konrad Abelthauser continues to be a bright light amongst German prospects, and Adam Janosik is about as good as it gets for Slovakian defenders in this age group. The lone American on this list, Troy Vance, isn't likely to get a call from Team USA this Chirstmas.
|Player||NHL Rights||QMJHL Club||Nat||GP||Min||S||Sv||GA||SV(%)||GAA||SO|
|Mathieu Corbeil*||Columbus||Saint John||CAN||14||805:07||334||305||29||91.3%||2.16||3|
|Christopher Gibson||Los Angeles||Chicoutimi||FIN||14||762:25||364||325||39||89.3%||3.07||1|
Domingue is in the mix for the Canadian starting job, and fittingly for a team coached by Patrick Roy, he's been the best goalie in the league. Corbeil is an overager, while Gibson has struggled a bit after being highly touted last year (not terrible, but only an average performance so far). It'll be interesting to see if he's in the mix for Finland. Honzik likely isn't a top candidate for the Czechs, though he remains an option if they decide to use a major junior goalie.