QMJHL Update: Sea Dogs Emerging From the Pack

The QMJHL is Jonathan Huberdeau's league. There's little room for anyone else. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)


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:

QMJHL Standings Through October 2011
Team GP Pts W ROW GD SD/G DSD/G PDO
Saint John Sea Dogs
19 28 14 13 +32 +5.53 +3.53 1033
Victoriaville Tigres
20 27 13 12 +29 +6.40 +4.85 1022
Shawinigan Cataractes
20 27 12 11 +18 +3.65 +1.00 1017
Québec Remparts
17 25 11 10 +16 -3.88 +0.88 1045
Halifax Mooseheads
17 24 12 11 +9 +1.29 +0.88 1012
Baie-Comeau Drakkar
18 24 12 11 +26 +4.50 +8.61 1034
Chicoutimi Saguenéens
21 23 9 9 -20 -2.86 -1.57 979
Rimouski Océanic 19 22 11 9 0 -3.32 -1.95 1013
Moncton Wildcats 21 21 10 10 -9 +0.05 +1.81 984
Val-d'Or Foreurs
21 20 9 9 -8 +0.29 -0.19 986
Blainville-Boisbriand Armada
20 19 9 8 -7 +0.30 +0.25 986
Gatineau Olympiques
18 18 9 9 -4 -1.72 +0.06 999
Acadie-Bathurst Titan
21 18 8 7 -2 +1.43 -1.33 991
Drummondville Voltigeurs
19 17 8 7 -7 +1.79 -1.00 980
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
20 17 8 7 -18 +2.55 -0.45 959
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies 20 14 6 5 -25 -7.80 -3.90 991
PEI Rocket 19 11 4 4 -30 -8.47 -5.47 981

 

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:

NHL Centre Prospects - QMJHL (as of Oct 31/11)
Player NHL Rights QMJHL Club Nat GP G A Pts Pts/G S DS S(%) DS/G FO(%)
Michael Bournival Montreal Shawinigan CAN 7 10 3 13 1.86 38 22 26.3 3.14 58.8
Zack Phillips Minnesota Saint John CAN 14 11 14 25 1.79 60 32 18.3 2.29 52.2
Jean-Gabriel Pageau Ottawa Gatineau CAN 12 14 7 21 1.75 48 35 29.2 2.92 55.5
Michael Chaput Columbus Shawinigan CAN 16 5 15 20 1.25 54 28 9.3 1.75 62.4
Phillip Danault Chicago Victoriaville CAN 17 4 12 16 0.94 40 21 10.0 1.24 50.9
Brent Andrews Nashville Halifax CAN 13 3 9 12 0.92 19 11 15.8 0.85 63.6
Mirko Hofflin Chicago Acadie-Bathurst GER 19 3 9 12 0.63 45 21 6.7 1.11 45.4
Lukas Sedlak Columbus Chicoutimi CZE 14 3 5 8 0.57 29 18 10.3 1.29 53.9

 

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.

NHL Wing Prospects - QMJHL (as of Oct 31/11)
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
Alexandre Grenier* Vancouver Halifax CAN 13 7 7 14 1.08 26 17 26.9 1.31
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
Olivier Archambault Montreal Drummondville CAN 13 6 5 11 0.85 37 25 16.2 1.92
Cedric Henley Buffalo Val-d'Or CAN 16 5 8 13 0.81 37 28 13.5 1.75
Petr Straka Columbus Rimouski CZE 12 4 4 8 0.67 37 20 10.8 1.67
Jakub Culek Ottawa Rimouski CZE 14 2 5 7 0.50 28 16 7.1 1.14
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. 

NHL Defense Prospects - QMJHL (as of Oct 31/11)
Player NHL Rights QMJHL Club Nat GP G A Pts Pts/G +/- PIM PPG S
Jerome Gauthier-Leduc Buffalo Rimouski CAN 14 11 15 26 1.86 +9 8 4 62
Brandon Gormley Phoenix Moncton CAN 14 8 6 14 1.00 -8 14 8 51
Samuel Carrier Washington Baie-Comeau CAN 13 3 10 13 1.00 +3 11 1 53
Konrad Abelthauser San Jose Halifax GER 13 2 10 12 0.92 +4 6 1 44
Jeremie Blain Edmonton Acadie-Bathurst CAN 15 3 10 13 0.87 +4 26 2 38
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
Xavier Ouellet Detroit Blainville-Boisbriand CAN 16 4 6 10 0.63 -9 29 3 36
Troy Vance Dallas Victoriaville USA 19 1 4 5 0.26 +5 18 0 22
Daniel Milan Tampa Bay Moncton CAN 14 0 3 3 0.21 -4 13 0 13
Jonathan Racine Florida Shawinigan CAN 18 2 1 3 0.17 -2 34 0 20
Gabriel Beaupre Colorado Val-d'Or CAN 17 1 1 2 0.12 -3 17 0 21
Dillon Donnelly Colorado Shawinigan CAN 18 0 1 1 0.06 +3 26 0 10
Sawyer Hannay Vancouver Halifax CAN 13 0 0 0 0.00 +5 28 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. 

NHL Goalie Prospects - QMJHL (as of Nov 3/11)
Player NHL Rights QMJHL Club Nat GP Min S Sv GA SV(%) GAA SO
Louis Domingue Phoenix Québec CAN 10 558:22 314 291 23 92.7% 2.47 2
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
David Honzik Vancouver Victoriaville CZE 13 756:02 339 301 38 88.8% 3.02 2

 

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.

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