QMJHL Top 30 prospects for the 2006 Entry Draft

By HF Staff

1. Derick Brassard, C – Drummondville Voltiguers
Shoots: L
Height: 6’0
Weight: 174 lbs.
DOB: 09/22/1987
Central Scouting: 4th

Brassard was originally selected by the Drummondville Voltiguers in the second round of the 2003 QMJHL Midget Draft, 18th overall. Though he did not make the Drummondville out of camp his first season, only appearing in ten games in a limited role towards the end of the season, Brassard would make a big impact upon his arrival the following season. Spending much of his time alternating between the first and second lines during his first full season, Brassard was a key contributor, compiling 76 points in 69 games, playing an important offensive role alongside Montreal prospect Guillaume Latendresse during much of the season. His dominant play in his rookie season was an integral factor in his being one of seven QMJHL players to be selected to Canada’s under-18 squad.

Had he been born but a few days earlier, his rookie season would have been his draft year, however, that was not the case. Brassard came back even better in his sophomore season, looking to better his stock, and seizing the role as one of Drummondville’s top offensive players and team leaders. He was a valuable part of the squad early on, carrying the team offensively in the first several games of the season while Latendresse was battling for a spot in Montreal, but was slowed mid-season with a wrist injury, but was able to bounce back without missing a beat. While Brassard did not garner a roster spot on Canada’s World Junior team, he did get to play in the two games for Team QMJHL against the Russian Selects in November, posting multi-point efforts in both games. When all was said and done, Brassard trumped his rookie point total by a large margin, picking up 116 points in only 58 games, good enough for seventh in the league, and most among first-year eligible players. He also worked on his defensive play in the offseason, and now carries a very respectable two-way game, as has been shown in his skyrocketing draft stock.

Brassard has perhaps the greatest vision for a player in this year’s draft class. Brassard is a dynamite playmaker, well aware of his surroundings, and able to dispense lightning-quick, accurate passes at will. He also has good drive towards the net and a great wrist shot. His skating is not overly quick, but the slight Brassard is very agile. Brassard is not a very physical fore-checker but is more than willing to pay the price in order to complete a pass. His faceoff work could use a bit more work, though, and he could stand to add a bit of muscle to make him tougher to move off the puck.

Brassard is a great playmaking center, in a year filled with such players. He has proven that he can elevate his play when the situation is dire, and has played big in big games in the past. He projects to be a solid first-line centerman.

2. James Sheppard, LW – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Shoots: L
Height: 6’2
Weight: 205 lbs.
DOB: 04/25/1988
Central Scouting: 9th

Sheppard was the first overall selection by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, the last piece to a multi-faceted, multi-season trade between the Eagles and the Halifax Mooseheads. Sheppard made the Eagles out of training camp in his first season, immediately being thrust into a key role on a rebuilding squad. Sheppard shone, with his blend of smooth puck-handling skills and physicality, playing on the team’s second line, and finishing fourth in team scoring with 45 points. His mere 14 goals was a bit disappointing, but he made up for it by rounding his game, playing in all situations, and gaining great experience along the way.

Sheppard entered his second season as likely being the first Quebec League player to be selected in the 2006 Entry Draft, and in the short term, was expected to carry the Eagles squad in the 2005-06 season. Much to his chagrin, Sheppard stumbled out of the blocks, going goalless through his first seven games, before turning it around mid-October. There was not a point when he really put his game into high gear over the course of the season, but put forth a very consistent string of performances to put up a strong offensive season, finishing his sophomore campaign with 84 points in 66 games, good enough for second on the team in scoring, helping to lead the Screaming Eagles into the playoffs. He took on a bigger leadership role with the club after the departure of Pittsburgh prospect Stephen Dixon and Guillaume Demers the previous season, and will be counted on even moreso for his experience next season as overager Kevin Asselin moves onto future endeavors. Sheppard was one of ten QMJHL participants in the CHL Top Prospects game in January, picking up an assist.

As opposed to Brassard, fellow top-flight prospect Sheppard is more of a finisher than a playmaker, with a quick, accurate shot. That is not to say that he does not use his teammates effectively, because he is very willing to dispense the puck, but he is more than capable in doing things himself if given the opportunity. Sheppard brings great skating ability and a strong drive to the net with his good-sized frame. He uses his size to his advantage and doesn’t mind partaking in the physical game, which helps in his creating space in front of the net and in the trenches along the boards.

Sheppard projects to be an excellent power-forward playing on the wing on the second line, as well as seeing time in special teams situations. He will look to improve upon his strong numbers of his sophomore season, and will warrant a long look for this year’s Canadian National Junior squad come this December.

3. Jonathan Bernier, G – Lewiston MAINEiacs
Catches: L
Height: 6’0
Weight: 180 lbs.
DOB: 08/07/1988
Central Scouting: 1st (goalies)

The brother of Vancouver Canucks draft pick Marc-Andre Bernier, Bernier was the eighth overall selection in the 2004 QMJHL Midget draft, going to the Lewiston Maineiacs. He was not counted on to carry the team in his first season, instead playing as an occasional spot-starter behind one of the best netminders in the league in 2004-05, Montreal draft pick Jaroslav Halak. Bernier appeared in only 23 games, posting modest numbers. He was a member of the Quebec squad in the under-17 championships, and picked up a gold medal for Canada’s under-18 squad.

With Halak graduating to the professional ranks last season, Lewiston was Bernier’s team, and he seized the starting role admirably, standing on his head on a regular basis, and helping a Lewiston squad that was lacking many of their star players from the previous season attain respectability, and garner a playoff spot. He elevated his play in the playoffs, facing lots of rubber and making many big stops, however, his Herculean effort alone was not enough to get Lewiston out of the first round. He will return as the team’s starting netminder next season.

Bernier is a butterfly goaltender with great reflexes, and is very quick moving from post-to-post. He plays big in big games – save his performance in the 2006 CHL Top Prospects game, wherein the young goaltender allowed six goals on 31 shots in 32 minutes work. He is occasionally prone to get agitated in net when facing intense traffic, but generally manages to keep a level head.

Showing no flaws in his game, and great consistency, Bernier should be a starting netminder in the future, though that will probably be a few years down the road.

4. Ivan Vishnevsky, D – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
Shoots: L
Height: 5’11
Weight: 176 lbs.
DOB: 02/18/1988
Central Scouting: 32nd

Vishnevsky was Rouyn-Noranda’s second pick in the 2005 CHL Import Draft, chosen 68th overall. Enticed to come over to North America early in the season, Vishnevsky was a pleasant surprise for an otherwise wholly mediocre Huskies squad. Display great offensive creativity, the young Russian picked up 48 points in 54 games. He was the top rookie defenseman in the QMJHL this season and was selected to play in the 2006 Top Prospects game.

Small but skilled, this young Russian defender is a deft puck-handler and sees the
ice extremely well. Excellent at creating offense, he distributes the puck well and is
a silky smooth skater. Only average in his own end, his flaws begin to appear when
the opposition focuses in on him and when he’s overmatched physically. His lack of
size will be a constant struggle as he progresses, but he has the skills to succeed.

A future power play quarterback, Vishnevsky will have to find some semblance of a defensive game if he is to be a consistent, full-time contributor in the next level. This season will be big for his defensive development, as Rouyn-Noranda’s defense will be one year older, and more experienced, and an improved squad will take some of the offensive pressure off his shoulders.

5. Claude Giroux, RW – Gatineau Olympiques
Shoots: R
Height: 5’10
Weight: 169 lbs.
DOB: 01/12/1988
Central Scouting: 38th

Giroux, a native of Ontario, was bypassed in the Ontario Hockey League’s draft, and was thus a free agent, able to ply his wares in rival leaves. Gatineau offered Giroux a try-out at the start of the season, and he seized the opportunity, playing admirably during training camp, and winning on spot the Olympiques roster. Giroux seized a key offensive role on the team almost immediately, picking up two points in his first game, and a three-point effort in only his third game. Giroux’s offensive game continued to impress, as he climbed among scoring leaders, and shot up the Central Scouting rankings. Over the course of the season, Giroux was named the QMJHL Rookie of the Month twice – in December and March – and by the end of the season, he had surpassed highly-touted 16-year-old Angelo Esposito in rookie scoring, finishing the season with 39 goals and 103 points in 69 games. Giroux was named to the QMJHL All-Rookie Team.

Giroux’s greatest talent is his playmaking ability. Boasting excellent hands and great vision, the diminutive winger is able to use his quick skating ability to turn something out of nothing. Giroux, despite his size disadvantage, does not mind getting his nose dirty, and will stand in to take a hit in order to make a play. He does get bodied often, but the shifty winger is agile enough to avoid checks on a regular basis.

Giroux’s size may have been a hindrance in the old NHL, however, he appears to be a prototypical product for the net NHL, with blazing speed and dynamite skill. He has the potential to be a first-line winger. A long look at Giroux for the 2006-07 Canadian World Junior squad is likely.

6. Joey Ryan, D – Quebec Remparts
Shoots: R
Height: 6’1
Weight: 189 lbs.
DOB: 10/19/1987
Central Scouting: 31st

A native of Massachusetts, Ryan was convinced by Remparts boss Patrick Roy to come to the QMJHL. Ryan only saw occasional ice time in his first season, playing in the third pairing and occasionally as a seventh defenseman, picking up nine assists in 57 games. Taking on a bigger role in his sophomore year, the rugged defenseman rounded out his game picking up 13 points. One of many veterans on the 2005-06 defense, Ryan continued to progress smoothly, picking up career highs in goals, assists, points and penalty minutes, seeing nearly 30 minutes of ice time per game. Ryan also played an influential role in the Remparts 2006 Memorial Cup victory. Ryan was selected to play in the 2006 Top Prospects game.

Ryan loves to play the body and hits with reckless abandon on the ice. A strong skater, he’s solid in his own end and has a bit of untapped offensive potential. He can move the puck well and uses his low hard shot on second unit power play. However, he gets in trouble when he’s rushed, leading to turnovers and giveaways. A lot of this will come along as he becomes more confident with the puck, but he definitely has to work on his decision-making and learn how to pick his spots better.

Occasionally dubbed a poor-man’s Adam Foote, Ryan projects to be a solid second pairing defenseman, bringing a strong physical game with competent defensive work. With already three years of QMJHL experience under his belt, Ryan will look to fine-tune some aspects of his game next season on the still-strong Remparts.

7. Ryan Hillier, LW – Halifax Mooseheads
Shoots: L
Height: 6’1
Weight: 188 lbs.
DOB: 01/25/1988
Central Scouting: 41st

Hillier was selected out of the second round of the 2004 QMJHL Midget Draft by Halifax, but was sent down to junior A for the first part of his first season after not making the team out of training camp. He was recalled to the Mooseheads midway through the year when Halifax ran into injury troubles, and would rotate in and out of the line-up for the remainder of the season, seeing spot duty on the fourth line, and picking up two points in 23 games, gaining valuable experience along the way during the Mooseheads’ long playoff run (before they bowed out in the league finals to Sidney Crosby and the Rimouski Oceanic). Hillier was also a participant on Team Atlantic’s bronze medal winning under-17 team.

Hillier was expected to play a bigger role for Halifax in his second season, and was immediately inserted onto the team’s top line out of training camp, playing alongside overage players Rane Carnegie and David Brine. Hillier served as the playmaker on the line, with Carnegie doing much of the scoring, and Brine picking up the defensive responsibility. Hillier, a great two-way player himself, did not shy away from his defensive responsibilities, helping out in his own end with a relatively inexperienced defensive unit, while not neglecting his offensive duties. He finished the season with 57 points in 68 games, well enough for third on the team in scoring. Hillier also participated in the CHL Top Prospects game, going without a point.

Hillier is a great playmaker with an uncanny vision with the puck in the offensive zone. A smooth skater, the slight forward is adept at quickly and accurately dispensing the puck. He does not go to the net very often, but does have an accurate wrist shot when he decides to use it. Hillier has a slight frame and doesn’t play a very physical game, though he has occasionally been known to get involved to come to a teammate’s aid. A consistently hard worker, there is no doubting that Hillier will show up to play every game.

Hillier is a great playmaking forward that would benefit from playing with a finisher, likely on the second line. He will be looked toward to carry much of the offensive load on a very young Halifax squad next season.

8. Bryce Swan, RW – Halifax Mooseheads
Shoots: R
Height; 6’2
Weight: 191 lbs.
DOB: 10/06/1987
Central Scouting: 17th

The Halifax Mooseheads drafted Swan in the fourth round of the 2004 QMJHL Midget Draft. A late cut in his first training camp, Swan was eventually recalled mid-season when Halifax ran into injury troubles. Oddly enough, Swan was used as a defenseman by necessity, having spent a bit of time playing on the point in lower levels. Once Halifax’s injury concerns were complete, Swan was relegated to spot duty on the fourth line for the remainder of the season, picking up six points in 36 games.

Swan was expected to be a valuable contributor on the 2005-06 Mooseheads, and after a cracking training camp, wherein he picked up nearly two points a game, it looked as if he would surpass his expectations. A freak ankle injury at the end of training camp put an end to the initial optimism. After a few weeks off, Swan returned to the lineup in spite of fears that he was rushed back. Those fears proved correct, as he re-aggravated his injury in the first period of the first game, stepping on a puck. Swan returned in mid-November, and was slowly able to regain his pre-season form, playing a hard-hitting game on the second line. Swan was slated to play in the CHL Top Prospects Game; however, Swan was once again injured shortly before the game, breaking his thumb during a multi-player skirmish. Swan returned after missing nearly ten games, and finished the season strong, putting up 25 points in only 34 games, and seven in 11 playoff games.

Swan plays an up-tempo, rough-and-tumble, heavy-hitting game. He is a hard skater, and is a hard worker in the corners. He also has good drive to the net, and a hard slap shot. He is an adept penalty killer, utilizing his aggressive fore-check regularly to hem in the offense. Not a regular pugilist, the fact that he suffered an injury in a fight is indicative of the bad luck he suffered injury-wise. It should be noted that not one of his injuries was a result of his power-forward style of play, which should alleviate concerns stemming from last season’s “made of glass” demeanor.

Swan has the offensive tools and size to be a banging second-line winger, and will look to stay healthy, as he plays an important role on next season’s Halifax squad, likely wearing a letter.

9. Francois Bouchard, LW – Baie Comeau Drakkar
Shoots: L
Height: 6’0
Weight: 178 lbs.
DOB: 04/26/1988
Central Scouting: 41st

Bouchard, brother of Minnesota Wild forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard, was selected in the second round of the 2004 QMJHL Midget draft, and made the Baie-Comeau Drakkar in his first season in the league. Playing largely on the fourth line, with occasional spot duty on the second line, as well as some time on the power play, Bouchard was able to pick up 24 points in 54 points, in what was a modest rookie season in all respects. He was also a member of Quebec’s entry for the under-17 championships.

Bouchard’s offensive explosion in his sophomore season was quite unexpected, as Bouchard amassed a very impressive 102 points in only 69 games, filling the big hole created on the Drakkar forward line after Edmonton prospect Jean-Francois Jacques graduated to the professional ranks. Bouchard was an integral part of Baie-Comeau’s burgeoning power play, doing more setting up than scoring. He played for Team Cherry at the CHL Top Prospects Game, and was also a member of Canada’s under-18 team.

Bouchard is an adept playmaker, with a quick release and great vision in the offensive zone, but is also an excellent shooter, with a great release and a hard shot, and a strong nose for the net. Bouchard is agile, but his foot-speed needs a bit of work. There is also concern about Bouchard’s consistency, and ability to elevate his play when it matters. He was counted on as being a valuable contributor for the under-18 squad this past spring, but disappointed due to a lack of hard work and bouts of discipline problems, and thus saw his ice time drastically reduced.

A potential second-liner with great special teams ability, Bouchard will look to gain some consistency for next season, and will hope to dispel concerns over his lack of big-game play.

10. Mathieu Carle, D – Acadie Bathurst Titan
Shoots: R
Height: 6’0
Weight: 206 lbs.
DOB: 09/30/1987
Central Scouting: 52nd

Carle was selected by Acadie Bathurst in the first round of the 2003 QMJHL Midget Draft, and stepped right into an important role on the rebuilding Titan. Carle saw regular ice time on the second and third pairings in his first season with the club, picking up a strong 23 points, 11 of which were goals. He earned a spot on the Quebec squad in the under-17 tournament as a result of his play. He tried to work more on his defensive game in his sophomore season, given that he had now inherited a role in the team’s top defensive pairing at only 17, and picked up 33 points, playing in a full schedule.

Carle, a late-1987 birth date, entered his draft year with a bang, getting off to a cracking offensive start, one which saw him actually lead the QMJHL in scoring after the first few games. Carle could not be expected to keep up such a torrid pace as two points a game over the course of an entire season, and cooled offensively, though he still focused on trying to create plays in the other end, unfortunately, to the detriment of his defensive game, which suffered at times over the course of the season. Carle played for the QMJHL team in the Canada-Russia Hockey Challenge, and was also a participant in the CHL Top Prospects Game.

Carle is a strong offensive presence from the blue line, with good skating and strong puck-handling ability. He can tend to get a little too focused on his offensive game, though, and will occasionally neglect his defensive responsibilities. When he does focus on his own end, he is willing to drop in front of shots, and is good positionally. However, that is when he does. Consistency and focus is an issue with Carle’s play. He has good size, and is willing to get his nose dirty from time to time, but will have to use his size more effectively, and more regularly, in order to intimidate the opposition.

Carle has the talent to be a top four defenseman in the professional ranks. Whether or not he can get the focus to attain the level of his ability is another matter. He will look to further improve his defensive game, while cutting back on needless penalties in what will be his fourth QMJHL season.

11. Brad Marchand, C – Val d’Or Foreurs
Shoots: L
Height: 5’9
Weight: 183 lbs.
DOB: 05/11/1988
Central Scouting: 80th

A member of Team Atlantic for the 2004 Under-17 World Hockey Challenge, Marchand was picked 24th overall by the Moncton Wildcats in the 2004 QMJHL Draft. An instant contributor in his first season, Marchand made an even greater impact in his second season, seeing regular ice with talented line-mates, picking up 66 points in 68 games. Marchand was an important member of Moncton’s Memorial Cup squad. After playing for Moncton at the 2006 Memorial Cup, he was traded to the Val d’Or Foreurs to complete the deal that saw Luc Bourdon become a Wildcat, as future considerations from the trade deadline deal that brought the Canucks prospect to the Cats.

Marchand is a little spitfire who doesn’t know the meaning of the word quit. An agitator in the corners, he likes to get his nose dirty and battles for the puck. He has some solid moves in the offensive zone, but occasionally gets himself into trouble by trying to get too fancy when a safe and simple play would do. A quick skater, he’ll have to continue to overcome his slight stature for the rest of his career.

Marchand has the skill to be a scoring line forward, however his size (or, lack thereof) will always be an issue. Marchand was allowed a bit of extra space during his time with Moncton and he might not find himself as fortunate now that he is a member of the Val d’Or Foreurs.

12. Benjamin Breault, C – Baie Comeau Drakkar
Shoots: L
Height: 5’11
Weight: 175 lbs.
DOB: 02/21/1988
Central Scouting: 57th

Breault, originally touted as a potential first overall selection in the 2004 QMJHL draft, slipped to number four, being bypassed by Sheppard, and two defensive prospects. Breault immediately stepped onto the Drakkar roster, but was up-and-down over the course of the season, playing in the top six, but occasionally had consistency issues, as well as a couple nagging injuries, finishing with 40 points in 54 games. Breault bounced back in his sophomore season, having a relatively healthy year, playing in all but two games, and finishing with 68 points in as many games, 30 of which were goals. He was a participant in the 2006 CHL Top Prospects game.

Breault is a strong, smooth skater with great hands and good vision in the offensive zone. Not very big, he makes up for it with quickness, though he is willing to pay the price if necessary. Boasting not only a good nose for the net, Breault is also a gifted playmaker, willing to dispense the puck accurately and regularly. His strong offensive game is complemented by a willingness to pick up the slack in the defensive end when necessary. He could use to put on some size, in the hopes of giving him a bit of a physical game and some more strength on the puck.

Breault is a talented two-way forward, and with his quickness, could find some time on a second line somewhere. Baie Comeau will be an improved squad next season, and Breault will be an integral part of that team.

13. Pierre-Luc Lessard, D – Prince Edward Island Rocket
Shoots: L
Height: 6’0
Weight: 180 lbs.
DOB: 01/16/1988
Central Scouting: 67th

The Gatineau Olympiques originally selected Lessard in the first round of the 2004 QMJHL Draft. He made the squad out of camp as the team’s seventh defenseman, but began to earn a regular shift towards the end of the season, finishing his rookie campaign with 9 points in 48 games. Lessard’s experience, small as it may have been, was counted on, as he was a valuable component of a young Olympiques defense this past season, his second in the league. Lessard played on the top defensive pairing, seeing regular time on the power play, and occasional duty on the penalty kill. He finished the season with 32 points, having played in 55 games.

Lessard is a smooth-skating two-way defenseman who loves to jump up into the play, but picks his times correctly, so as not to do so at the detriment of his defensive game. With a great shot, and excellent vision creativity with the puck, Lessard is a very handy offensive player. He is also a very poised defenseman. Not overly large, he still will get in the face of the opposition, and keeps much of the play to the perimeter. A hard worker who will occasionally hit, Lessard is one of the better young defensemen in the league.

Lessard has the ability and coolness under pressure to potentially be a second-pairing defenseman who could play in all situations. Lessard will join the PEI Rocket next season, having been traded in a draft-day deal that brought Edmonton prospect Slava Trukhno to the Olympiques.

14. Andrew Bodnarchuk, D – Halifax Mooseheads
Shoots: L
Height: 5’10
Weight: 172 lbs.
DOB: 07/11/1988
Central Scouting: 72nd

Bodnarchuk was originally selected by the Moncton Wildcats in the 2004 QMJHL Midget Draft in the fifth round, but was unwilling to give up his NCAA eligibility, and did not suit up for the Wildcats. Saint John selected him in the expansion draft, before being traded to Halifax, who enticed him to play in the QMJHL. Still only 17, he was expected to be a valuable contributor on the relatively inexperienced Halifax blue line. Though he ran into occasional difficulties in regards to consistency and discipline, his willingness to get his nose dirty in his own end despite his size deficiency, and his offensive awareness when on the rush were benefits. Bodnarchuk played in all situations on the rebuilding Mooseheads squad, appearing more at home on the power play than elsewhere, though he did not embarrass himself in his own end either. He finished his rookie campaign with 6 goals and 23 points, fourth in the league among rookie. He was a member of Team Quebec in the 2005 Canada-Russia Challenge and also played on Team Canada at the 2005 Under-18s. In 2004, he was a member of Team Atlantic at the Under-17 World Hockey Challenge.

A puck moving defenseman, Bodnarchuk is a very good skater and sees the ice well. He has a hard point shot and distributes the puck smoothly. He sometimes has problems handling physical pressure and needs to fill out and add some strength, but he does not mind getting in the face of the opposition from time to time in his own end. He also needs further polishing in his own zone, and needs to remedy his occasional discipline problems that saw him take a few inopportune penalties last season.

Bodnarchuk’s size could be a liability at the next level, and he will have to work hard when he gets an opportunity, but he has the talent and the two-way ability to be a good second-pairing defenseman with plenty of power play time. He will be an integral part of Halifax’s blue line next season.

15. Jean-Christophe Blanchard, G – Victoriaville Tigres
Catches: L
Height: 6’4
Weight: 178 lbs.
DOB: 12/12/1987
Central Scouting: 11th (goalies)

Blanchard was selected in the first round of the 2003 Midget Draft by the Moncton Wildcats, and was widely expected to be the heir apparent to stalwart Wildcats netminder and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Corey Crawford, however, things did not work out well for Blanchard in Moncton. After three appearances in 2003-04, he spent his first full season with the club in 2004-05 as the Wildcats back up, seeing only spot duty as much of the workload fell onto the shoulders of Crawford, and it resulted in his only appearing in 25 games, though he did post a sparkling 2.17 goals against average, seeing time against inferior opponents for the most part. 2005 was supposed to be his year, as the number one job was now his, and a berth in the 2006 Memorial Cup was assured, given Moncton was hosting the tournament. However, Blanchard stumbled out of the gate, showing occasional confidence issues between the pipes, and regularly fighting the puck. Moncton chose to make a move, sending Blanchard to Victoriaville in a package for overage netminder Josh Tordjman. Blanchard started the bulk of the games with the Tigres, trying to regain his confidence playing behind a weak defense and seeing lots of rubber. He finished with a combined record of 21-16, though his GAA with Victoriaville ballooned to well over four.

A competent butterfly netminder with good positioning and sound mechanics, Blanchard ran into a bout of bad luck at the wrong time last season, and his confidence suffered as a result of it. He does have good rebound control, but like many other young goaltenders, benefits from having a stronger defense in front of him to clear those rebounds that do become available.

Still a bit raw, Blanchard does have good poise between the pipes, but still has some work to do to in order to show he can make it in the professional ranks. Victoriaville should be an improved squad next season, and it will be interesting to how he plays on a regular basis with a competent team in front of him.

16. Stefano Giliati, LW – Lewiston MAINEiacs
Shoots: L
Height: 5’11
Weight: 200 lbs.
DOB: 10/07/1987
Central Scouting: 76th

Giliati was originally selected in the second round of the 2004 QMJHL Draft by the Shawinigan Cataractes, and made the team in his first attempt as a 17-year-old. Playing sparingly on the fourth line initially, Giliati saw his role increased as the season progressed, and he finished with 14 points in 54 games. Giliati was moved to Lewiston in the off-season in the trade that sent Atlanta prospect Alex Bourret to Shawinigan. Giliati was hoped to help fill some of the offense vacated by Bourret. While he didn’t come close to matching the Thrashers’ prospect’s numbers, Giliati still became a very adequate offensive player on the Lewiston second line, picking up 49 points, having appeared in every game, playing an up-tempo style of play.

Giliati is stocky and not overly large, but he still does have good foot speed and quickness, and is adept at handling the puck. He has strong offensive awareness, but is also a good passer. Giliati is also a very adept defensive forward, playing against top lines, as well as seeing time on the first penalty-killing unit. Giliati picked up a knack for scoring clutch goals over the course of the season, and elevated his game in the playoffs. He likes to hit, and is good at using his size to his advantage.

Giliati, much like his line mate Stefan Chaput, is an energy player, who has good offensive awareness and defensive responsibility. He would fit nicely on a third or fourth line.

17. Stefan Chaput, C – Lewiston MAINEiacs
Shoots: L
Height: 6’2
Weight: 190 lbs.
DOB: 03/11/1988
Central Scouting: 113th

Chaput was originally selected in the third round of the 2004 QMJHL Draft out of West Island. He was a late cut in training camp, but did see occasional spot duty over the course of the season for Lewiston, picking up five points in eight games. Chaput made the squad out of training camp in his second attempt, catching a spot on the third line. Chaput’s tenacity, hard work, and offensive skills saw him move rapidly up the depth charts, and by mid-season, Chaput was a regular contributor on the second line, playing both on the power play and on the penalty kill, bringing a hard hitting, tireless fore-checking style of play. He finished his first full season with 48 points in 69 games.

Chaput is full of energy on the ice, willing to hit regularly. He is a strong skater with a good nose for the net, and is willing to work hard in the trenches to create plays. A tenacious fore-checker as well as a responsible back-checker, Chaput is also a valuable defensive forward, giving fits to the opposition’s top players, and playing hard on the Lewiston penalty kill.

Chaput would make a great third or fourth line energy player, but also someone who has offensive skills strong enough that he could step up onto a second line role if penalty difficulties. Like his line mate, Stefano Giliati, Chaput has shot up the charts since the mid-term rankings, and is quite the sleeper.

18. Martin Bartos, LW – Acadie Bathurst Titan
Shoots: L
Height: 6’2
Weight: 189 lbs.
DOB: 06/02/1988
Central Scouting: 142nd

Bartos was Saint John’s first European selection in the franchise’s history, chosen fifth overall in the 2005 CHL Import Draft, after having spent the past several seasons in the Vitkovice organization in the Czech Republic. In the 2004-05 season with Vitkovice’s under-20 squad, the talented Bartos picked up 29 points in 35 games. Bartos was expected to be a key contributor for the expansion squad, and did not disappoint initially, getting off to a strong start in spite of his relative inexperience in the North American game. Bartos was selected to play for the Czech World Junior squad, and notched three goals in their seven games, and hoped to ride the high of a strong performance on in the international stage into the second half of the season, but ran into injury troubles, tweaking his knee, which forced Bartos to pull out of the Top Prospects Game and hampered the remainder of his season. He finished with 28 points in 43 games.

Bartos is a talented playmaker and puck-carrier, who has good size, but does not use it as well to his advantage as would be hoped. He has a good shot, and good awareness in the offensive zone, but tends to neglect his defensive play. He also occasionally runs into consistency problems, as documented by his sharp decline in quality play in the second half of the season (though injuries, and his participation in the World Juniors also played a role in that).

Bartos is a talented forward, but needs to gain some consistency. He will have to improve his all-around game, or he may end up just seeing spot duty, as well as sparse power play time. Bartos will join the Acadie Bathurst Titan next season, after having been traded at the draft.

19. Hugo Carpentier, C – Rouyn-Noranda Huskies
Shoots: L
Height: 6’2
Weight: 200 lbs.
DOB: 03/17/1988
Central Scouting: 95th

Carpentier was selected by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the third round of the 2004 Midget Draft, and made the team out of camp in his rookie season. He saw much of his ice time on the fourth line, where he appeared in 49 games. He showed flashes of offensive talent, and these skills were put to the test in his sophomore season, where he was entrusted a spot on the top two lines. Carpentier did not disappoint, appearing in every game, and posting 70 points (31 of which were goals), good enough for third on the team in both categories.

Carpentier is a hard worker who has great consistency. A tenacious fore-checker who gives his all every shift, Carpentier has good drive to the net and a strong finish. He also does not mind to throw his good size around. His foot speed is not very good, so he will have to work on his skating in a big way if he is to succeed at the next level.

Carpentier’s desire, work ethic and strong skill set will be appealing come draft day, but his skating will likely be enough to dissuade many come draft day, given the emphasis on quickness in the post-lockout era.

20. Eric Castonguay, LW – Lewiston MAINEiacs
Shoots: L
Height: 5’11
Weight: 177 lbs.
DOB: 09/18/1987
Central Scouting: 107th

Castonguay was originally a ninth-round afterthought, chosen by Lewiston with the 132nd pick in the 2004 Midget Draft. Castonguay defied the odds, making the team out of camp. Castonguay’s play made Lewiston’s scouts look like they had gotten themselves a steal, as he finished his rookie campaign with a very respectable 32 points. Had he been born a few days earlier, last season would have been his draft year, though, as luck would have it, he had one more year of eligibility, and made the most of it. Playing an important role on the tenacious MAINEiacs squad, Castonguay finished the season with 65 points, good enough for third on the team, helping pick up some of the slack stemming from the departures of Alexandre Picard and Alex Bourret.

Castonguay is a dynamic offensive player, who benefited greatly from his increased role with the squad. A regular fixture on the Lewiston top power play unit (he finished the season with 19 goals with the man advantage), Castonguay is also willing to dispense the puck. A good skater, with decent on-ice awareness, Castonguay will be a valuable component of next year’s MAINEiacs squad.

21. Mathieu Perreault, C – Acadie Bathurst Titan
Shoots: L
Height: 5’9
Weight: 151 lbs.
DOB: 01/05/1988
Central Scouting: 202nd

Perreault was a surprise second overall selection as a 17-year-old in the 2005 QMJHL Midget Draft by the Acadie Bathurst Titan, who traded up to acquire his services. There was no questioning his offensive talent, but for someone who probably would have been available at their pick, and perhaps their second round pick as well, the selection was a head-scratcher. Perreault put much of those confused concerns to bed with a dynamite pre-season, and a quick start to the regular season. Though he ran into bouts of inconsistency in the second half of the season, Perreault finished the year strongly, finishing eighth on the team in points with an impressive 52 points, good enough for fifth in the league among rookies. Perreault was a fixture on the Titan second line, and used his quickness to his advantage on a regular basis. He elevated his game drastically in the playoffs, leading the Titan in scoring with 21 points during their run to the league semi-finals

Perreault is a quick and shifty skater who is a slick playmaker with the puck, boasting great vision and a keen awareness of his teammates. He has a quick shot, but is just as quick to send fast passes across the goalmouth to waiting teammates. He is an adept centerman, putting up a strong winning percentage despite his diminutive size. He has proven to be a clutch, big-game players in his first year with the Titan, and will be counted on to build on this next season.

While his lack of size may always be an issue, there is no questioning Perreault’s talent. He is potential second line centerman, whose quickness and creativity is suited greatly for the new NHL; though a growth spurt, and increased muscle mass wouldn’t hurt.

22. Jiri Suchy, D – Halifax Mooseheads
Shoots: L
Height: 5’11
Weight: 204 lbs.
DOB: 01/03/1988
Central Scouting: 145th

The Halifax Mooseheads selected Suchy with the 47th overall pick in the 2005 CHL Import Draft. They were willing to give him time to adapt to the North American game after having played in a limited role with Kladno the year previous. The learning curve was slow, as Suchy stepped right in, playing the second pairing, and playing an important role in November, when Halifax ran into horrible injury problems on the point. He finished his first season with 16 points, though his offensive game was not his greatest contribution.

Suchy’s physical game was the most readily visible aspect of his play, as he regularly stepped into open ice to finish checks, not to mention rubbing players out along the boards. Suchy is stock, but deceivingly quick, and his willingness to throw his weight around. He has a good shot when he uses it, which is infrequently. His defensive coverage his very good, thanks to his good lateral mobility, and his willingness to get in the face of the opposition.

Suchy projects to be a rough-and-tumble third pairing defenseman. He will look to bring his game up a notch in his second season in North America.

23. Michael Dupont, G – Baie Comeau Drakkar
Catches: L
Height: 6’0
Weight: 175 lbs.
DOB: 12/20/1987
Central Scouting: 16th (goalies)

The Drakkar chose Dupont with the 52nd pick in the 2004 QMJHL draft, and he made the team out of camp in his first season. It was expected that the 17-year-old would serve as backup to veteran Loic Lacasse, but when Lacasse struggled out of the gate, the starting job fell into Dupont’s lap. Though he too struggled at times, he still posted a 14-19 record, and numbers vastly superior to Lacasse, the most telling statistic being save percentage, where Dupont’s .907 was among the league leaders. Both goalies entered the 2005-06 season locked in a battle for the starting job, and it was Dupont who eventually won, as Lacasse ended up being dealt to Drummondville, and the starting job became Dupont’s. He appeared in 48 games, finishing with a 19-24 record, and seeing only slight regressions in goals against average and save percentage.

Dupont is positionally sound between the pipes, but does not have the greatest quickness. He does improvise fairly well when caught out of position. He also has a decent glove hand.

Next year’s Drakkar squad is still going to be quite thin beyond the top line, so Dupont will once again be counted on regularly to keep the Drakkar in the realm of respectability.

24. Jakub Bundil, C – Lewiston MAINEiacs
Shoots: L
Height: 6’5
Weight: 234 lbs.
DOB: 01/11/1988
Central Scouting: 138th

Bundil was selected by Lewiston 26th overall in the 2005 CHL Import Draft, having spent the previous season with Dukla Trencin’s under-18 squad. Not a great scorer, it was his defensive play that was most appreciated by the MAINEiacs, as the massive forward centered Lewiston’s checking line for much of the season. He finished his rookie campaign with 13 points in 54 games, whilst posting a solid +3 rating on a mediocre MAINEiacs squad.

The first thing you notice about Bundil is his size. Already with NHL size, the problem is that Bundil does not use it often enough. He will occasionally lean on the opposition, however, his physical game is lacking. Also, his foot speed isn’t great, and he would benefit from some off-season power skating. Still, Bundil has great defensive awareness, as well as some shrewd playmaking ability.

Still quite a project at this point, he will look to improve his all-around game next season, though it will likely be in a similar role as last year (though he does have the skill to be a regular figure in the top two lines)

25. James Pouliot, LW – Halifax Mooseheads
Shoots: L
Height: 6’1
Weight: 172 lbs.
DOB: 12/08/1987
Central Scouting: 122nd

There was a time when Pouliot was the youngest player in the QMJHL during his rookie season. Selected out of New Hampshire by Halifax in the fifth round, Pouliot was a regular member of the Mooseheads taxi squad during his first season, picking up four goals in 40 games. Unfortunately for him, he was in the same boat the following season on a deep Halifax team, and only got into 23 games, and left him questioning his role with the team. In his third season, Pouliot was given a full chance to contribute, and he landed a role on the second line. Still raw in the skill department, and occasionally inconsistent, Pouliot did progress some as the season went along, and found a niche for himself as an adept penalty killer. He finished the season with 31 points.

An aggressive fore-checker in spite of his slight build, he did a good job of getting in lanes, breaking up plays. His offensive game was still iffy, as he ran into horrible bouts of inconsistency mid-season, but his defensive game kept him a valuable role with the team. He does also tend to take undisciplined penalties whilst stirring up the competition.

Pouliot’s skills need some work, and he has to retain the focus he gained over the course of his third season. His development as a defensive forward could perhaps land him a role on a fourth line with special teams duties. Next year will be big for his development.

26. Jean-Philippe Chabot, LW – Gatineau Olympiques
Shoots: L
Height: 6’1
Weight: 188 lbs.
DOB: 09/04/1987
Central Scouting: 189th

A native of Quebec, Chabot was selected by the Moncton Wildcats 38th overall in the 2004 QMJHL Entry Draft. After appearing in handful of games last season, Chabot won a full-time job with the Cats this season, picking up 27 points in 60 games. He played with the Cats during the Memorial Cup, elevating his play both physically and with the puck, but has since been traded to the Gatineau Olympiques to complete the Keith Yandle deal. He was also named the Wildcats Rookie of the Year for this season.

Chabot filled a checking line role in 2005-06, but there’s the feeling that there is more to this Quebec native than just that. He’s unafraid to play the body, but he also sees the ice well and handles the puck well. He’s equally as capable to set up the play or take the puck in himself.

A potential checking line forward or fourth line energy player, Chabot’s trade to the Gatineau Olympiques should result in increased responsibilities for the young forward next season.

27. Bobby Nadeau, G – Val d’Or Foreurs
Catches: L
Height: 5’11
Weight: 165 lbs.
DOB: 03/23/1988
Central Scouting: 23rd (goalies)

The Quebec Remparts originally selected Nadeau with the 44th pick in the 2004 Midget Draft. He did not make the team out of camp, and saw action in only one game. Nadeau was traded to Val d’Or at the 2005 draft, and split time with two overagers over the course of the season: first with Julien Walsh, and then with Philippe Roberge. Nadeau vastly outplayed both of them, and was the only one of four Foreurs goaltenders to post an above-.500 record, finishing with a record of 18-14, a goals against average of 3.70, and a near-.900 save percentage.

Nadeau is a butterfly netminder who boasts great quickness between the pipes, both from post-to-post, and to his skates. He has a solid glove hand and good rebound control.

Nadeau did not suffer too badly after the departure of Luc Bourdon from in front of him, and it will be interesting to see how he adapts to a much stronger squad playing in front of him next season.

28. Chris Culligan, C – Cape Breton Screaming Eagles
Shoots: L
Height: 5’11
Weight: 168 lbs.
DOB: 06/23/1988
Central Scouting: 170th

Cape Breton selected Culligan, a native of the Island, in the fifth round of the 2004 Midget Draft. Culligan made the team out of training camp, and come the end of the season, the forward was getting a regular shift on the second and third lines, as well as seeing times in the special teams department, finishing his rookie campaign with 28 points. Culligan was to be counted on as a key contributor in his sophomore season, and did not disappoint, seizing his role as the team’s second line center, picking up 51 points, of which 14 were goals.

Culligan is fairly small and not very strong on his feet, nor is he that powerful a skater, but he is a consistently hard worker, gritty, and has great playmaking abilities. He sees regular time on the penalty kill, and is a lead-by-example type of player. He is more of a perimeter player than someone who will drive to the net.

With Sheppard ahead of him on the depth chart, chances are he shall continue carving out his niche on the second line next season. The role of defensive forward may be in his future should he advance to the professional game.

29. Alex Lamontagne, D – Baie Comeau Drakkar
Shoots: R
Height: 6’4
Weight: 210 lbs.
DOB: 04/07/1988
Central Scouting: 134th

Lamontagne was selected second overall in the 2004 QMJHL Midget Draft and was hoped to be a strong two-way defensive prospect. However, the offensive game never game around. Playing regularly with the Titan in his rookie season, the rangy defenseman picked up six points in 64 games. He was expected to carry a greater role this season, but ran into consistency issues early in the season, and was dealt to the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. He finished the season with three assists in 47 games.

Boasting good size, great positioning, but mediocre skating, Lamontagne is a good stay-at-home defenseman. He likes to hit and will drop the gloves from time to time. When with the puck, he chooses to make the safe play, and will rarely carry the puck. He is also a decent penalty killer.

Lamontagne was one of few veteran defensemen on the regularly divided Drakkar. His experience and defensive know-how will be counted on greatly next season for the improving squad from the St. Lawrence shore.

30. Jason Demers, D – Victoriaville Tigres
Shoots: R
Height: 6’0
Weight: 185 lbs.
DOB: 09/11/1988
Central Scouting: 160th

The Moncton Wildcats selected Demers in the fifth round, 78th overall in the 2004 Midget Draft. He made the team out of camp in his first season, landing a role as the team’s seventh defenseman, appearing in 25 games. It was hoped he would play a bigger role in this year’s squad, however, given Moncton’s hosting of the Memorial Cup tournament, Demers was but one of many Moncton youngsters traded for veterans, with Demers being a part of the deal that brought netminder Josh Tordjman to the Wildcats. Demers began to take on a more offensive role with Victoriaville, and finished with 15 points in 33 games with les Tigres.

Demers is a competent two-way defenseman who is positionally sound in his own end. He likes to carry the puck and has a good shot from the point. He only has average size, but uses it adequately.

Demers will play an even greater role next season for Victoriaville, particularly if Billy Bezeau catches a professional deal, and will likely see minutes in the 20-25 range.

Overage options

Maxime Lacroix, F – Quebec Remparts

After an unremarkable season Lacroix went undrafted in 2005, however this season, and specifically in the playoffs and Memorial Cup run for the Remparts, Lacroix’s stock has risen. In the regular season Lacroix had 47 points (25 goals) in 70 games and in the playoffs 12 points in 23 games, but his hard work and contributions aside from point production won the praise of coach Patrick Roy, who named Lacroix as a player on his team he was most pleased with at the Memorial Cup.

“He’s been terrific and he’s really taking that opportunity I think to always playing to open the eyes of a lot of scouts and I’m sure he’s going to be pretty close to being drafted,” said Roy.

Lacroix is a speedy forward who can play center or wing and he’s proven himself to be an effective penalty killer as well. He also has some scoring ability and in the Memorial Cup he had two goals and three assists, putting him in a tie for fifth in tournament scoring, and one of his goals came while the Remparts were shorthanded. Lacroix talked with Hockey’s Future at the Memorial Cup and spoke on his approach to the game. “I try to play simple,” said Lacroix. “Like, when you deke a guy you one chance in ten to beat him, but with good passes and speed you have more chances to beat him. That’s what I’m using. I play simple and it works more of the time.”

Although not projected to be a top-line forward one day, Lacroix has potential as a third or fourth line forward who can kill penalties.

Matt Marquardt, F – Moncton Wildcats

A native of Ontario, Marquardt wasn’t selected in his OHL draft year. Instead, Ted Nolan enticed him to come east and join the Moncton Wildcats. The Wildcats couldn’t be happier, as Marquardt improved and garnered more ice time as the season progressed, finishing with 25 points, 16 of which were goals. The bruiser was one of the team’s many unsung heroes during the Memorial Cup tournament.

A mammoth of a player, Marquardt already has NHL size. He’s a relentless and punishing hitter with the ability to change the momentum of the game with his checks. However he also possesses surprising soft hands and an accurate shot. As can be expected, his skating requires plenty of work, although with his work ethic that should not be a problem in a few years. Definitely a work in progress, the North Bay native has plenty of potential. A project at this point, next season will be an opportunity for Marquardt to prove his worth, as he is one of few returning players from Moncton’s Memorial Cup squad, and will be counted on greatly for offense and leadership.

Mathieu Roy, F – Val d’Or Foreurs

Roy was able to put together a consistent effort over the course of his third full season in the QMJHL for the Bathurst Titan, leading the team in goals (50), assists (54), and points (104), whilst putting up over 100 penalty minutes.

A gritty player with an excellent skill set, Roy still has a relative disinterest in the defensive aspect of the game. He also ran into occasional discipline problems, taking a few bad penalties over the course of the season. Roy was traded to the Val d’Or Foreurs at the 2006 draft, and will step onto the top line alongside 2006 eligible Brad Marchand, who was also acquired at the draft.

Jerome Samson, F – Moncton Wildcats

Drafted by the Moncton Wildcats in 2003, Samson won the George Parsons trophy at the
2006 Memorial Cup as the most sportsmanlike player. He also won awards from the
Wildcats at the Most Improved Player, Future Star, Scholastic Achievement and the Unsung Hero Award.

A rangy forward, Samson’s speed and defensive awareness make him an excellent
penalty killer. Though only of average size, he’s willing to muck it up and play the body.
He has a knack for scoring big goals and often surprises the other team with his
speed and his moves around the net. Inconsistent at times with his effort, Samson could
be a steal if he puts it all together.

Felix Schutz, F – Saint John Sea Dogs

Schutz is one of few Germans to be playing in the Canadian Hockey League, and was one of the best, though he did not get much exposure, playing for the expansion Saint John Sea Dogs on Canada’s east coast. Schutz was selected 41st overall in the 2005 Import Draft. He showed great talent for the young and inexperienced squad, posting 52 points in 65 games, leading the team in assists and points, and finishing second in goals. He was also a member of Germany’s World Junior squad, playing in the first division, where he picked up four points in five games.

Schutz is a slick skater with great playmaking ability. He will dispense the puck more regularly than shooting, but his shot is quick and accurate. He also brings a fairly hard-nosed style of play, working hard in the corners and mixing it up physically if need be. A big-time sleeper due to his relative obscurity during the season, Schutz has the potential to be a second or third liner, and will be a big factor for next season’s ever-improving Sea Dogs squad.

Phil Laugher, Kevin Forbes, and Glen Jackson contributed to this article. Copyright 2006 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.