At the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, four QMJHL players heard their name called in the first round. This equalled the league’s second best showing in the opening round in the past 10 years. Looking ahead at the class of 2010, the QMJHL could enjoy another strong year at the draft with a number of talented players ready to pursue their NHL dream.
As is often the case with the QMJHL, the list of top prospects is studded with goaltenders and Import players. Three of the 10 players detailed below man the pipes, while another four players are rookies to the league after being selected in the 2009 CHL Import Draft.
In alphabetical order, here’s a look at some of the top 2010-eligible players in the QMJHL.
Guillaume Asselin, RW
A talented forward in his second season in the QMJHL, Asselin has been given big responsibilities as a 17-year-old on the Montreal Junior. With the team starting to reload quickly by trading away veteran players and building for the future, Asselin is an important part of Montreal’s plans both now as well as in the future.
Asked to fill the offensive void, Asselin’s team-leading 13 goals and 28 points in 35 games are already well on their way to blowing past his rookie totals of 18 goals and 37 points in 63 games. A deft stickhandler with a nose for the net, Asselin needs to continue to round out his game, but his talents are hard to deny.
Maxime Clermont, G
It is hard to knock a 17-year-old who is well into his second full season as a starting goaltender for a perpetually strong team in Gatineau. Benefiting slightly from a late 1991 birth date (actually born on the last day of the year), Clermont is already in his third season in the QMJHL and has over 100 starts under his belt.
There is good reason for Gatineau handing the reins to the young goaltender. Quick between the pipes, Clermont has improved steadily since his rookie season and already has three shutouts this year, tied for the league lead. One of the top goaltenders in the QMJHL as a 17-year-old, many are anxious to see just how much better he can get.
Mathieu Corbeil, G
At 6’6, Corbeil takes up a large chunk of the net simply by skating in front of it. Another goaltender with a late birthday in 1991, Corbeil struggled as a rookie last season in limited duty for Halifax. After spending time over the off-season on improving his control over his long limbs, he was handed the starting role for the Mooseheads this year.
Though his statistics are hardly eye-popping for a rebuilding Halifax squad, it is his physical tools and where he projects to be as he develops that has many scouts talking. Corbeil has improved significantly since he first stepped onto the ice in the QMJHL and the sky is the limit on where he could go from here. A pair of Defensive Player of the Week honors in November drew much attention and just goes to show how good he can be when he is on his game.
Jakub Culek, C
One of the top rookie scorers in the QMJHL as a 17-year-old import selection, Culek is being tasked with helping lead the Rimouski Oceanic, both now and into the future. After hosting the Memorial Cup last season, Rimouski is looking to quickly reload its line-up with Culek and fellow import Petr Straka as two of the key building blocks. Scoring at a point-per-game pace with 9 goals and 37 points in his first 37 games is definitely a good start.
A talented playmaker, Culek has adapted quickly to the North American style of play, helped in part by his impressive size at 6’4. Though his vision and offensive abilities are what gets him noticed, his coach Clem Jodoin prefers to rave about his willingness to learn and how quickly the young Czech has picked up the two-way style that Jodoin preaches.
Louis Domingue, G
It has to be difficult stepping in to replace the reigning QMJHL Player of the Year, but that was precisely what Domingue was tasked with entering the 2009-10 season with the Moncton Wildcats. With standout goaltender Nicola Riopel (PHI) headed to the pro ranks, Domingue was the heir apparent behind a Moncton squad that is looking to be a contender.
But things haven’t gone exactly as planned. Inconsistent play has plagued the positional goalie and as a result, he has played in just one game since the end of November. To make matters worse for Domingue, the Wildcats announced that Riopel will be returning from the pro leagues after Christmas. Saddled with too many goaltenders, Moncton is expected to make a trade. Even if Domingue is chosen to stick around, he will be hard-pressed to get more starts in the second half of the season playing behind Riopel.
Galiev, who played last season in the USHL, has the good fortune of playing for the top team in the QMJHL, and he plays on a line with Nicholas Petersen and Mike Hoffman, two 20-year-old veterans who under most other circumstances would likely be playing in the AHL at this point. Who wouldn’t find success in that environment?
That isn’t to say that the young Russian isn’t talented. He currently leads all QMJHL rookies with 10 goals and 38 points in 37 games. The top selection in the 2009 CHL Import Draft, Galiev has come as advertised: a wizard with the puck with the ability to thread a pass or score a goal through holes that no one else can see. Playing for the league’s best team only improves his profile.
Brandon Gormley, D
The Moncton Wildcats are thought to have the best defense in the QMJHL. Incredibly, their best overall defender could be 17-year-old Gormley. Forcing his way into big minutes as a 16-year-old rookie, Gormley plays a solid game on all three zones of the ice. Mature beyond his years, he is rarely rattled and his poise with or without the puck rivals that of the top defenders in the league.
After scoring seven goals and totalling 27 points in 62 games as a rookie, Gormley’s six goals and 23 points in 33 games this year puts him on pace to blow past his first-year totals as he continues to inch up the defensive scoring ranks. Thought to be one of the top defensive prospects in not just the QMJHL but also the entire 2010 draft class, Gormley was invited to Team Canada’s World Junior selection camp this year.
Brandon Hynes, RW
It would be easy to look at Hynes and discredit him due to his slight 5’9 frame. Judging from his offensive totals, maybe that’s what opposing defenders are doing when they see the Newfoundland native come down the ice with the puck. But Hynes has continually proved the doubters wrong and it is hard to deny his offensive totals.
One of the youngest players eligible for the 2010 draft, Hynes potted 18 goals and had 29 points in 60 games as a rookie last season, including an impressive 10 markers on the power play. Already this season, he has blown past those totals with 20 goals and 39 points in just 37 games, catapulting him up the QMJHL scoring ranks. While he still has plenty to work on, Hynes is a perfect example of good things coming in small packages.
Kirill Kabanov, LW
It’s been a season of frustration for the highly-touted Russian sniper. First, a disagreement between the Russian Hockey Federation and the CHL, which led to an IIHF ruling over where Kabanov would play the 2009-10 season, caused him to miss the beginning of the season in Moncton. After playing just 11 games with the Wildcats, Kabanov then suffered a wrist injury that has kept him out of the line-up since.
Scheduled to be back in February, Kabanov showed a glimpse of his talent in the few games he did play. He potted five goals and 14 points, including a four-point game. Thought to be one of the top talents eligible for the 2010 draft, it remains to be seen how these setbacks will affect his draft standing. His skill may be undeniable, but he needs to be able to showcase it.
Petr Straka, LW
Paired with fellow Czech Culek, Straka’s game dovetails nicely with his fellow 2010 eligible. Where Culek’s game is all about vision and playmaking, Straka, the better skater of the two, has been able to consistently send Culek’s pretty passes to the back of the net.
With 18 goals and 33 points in 34 games for Rimouski, Straka leads not only the Oceanic but also all QMJHL rookies in goals. A sniper, Straka is also learning to round out his game from Clem Jodoin and has adapted quickly to the North American style of play.
Michael Bournival, C
Samuel Carrier, D
Jerome Gauthier-Leduc, D
Adam Janosik, D
Adam Polasek, D