The 2007 draft class from the QMJHL is the deepest in years, with not only great high-end talent in Angelo Esposito and Jakub Voracek — who could both challenge for the top spot at the draft in Columbus — but also with depth at all positions. In a year when as many as five or six QMJHLers have a shot at the first round, 25 or 30 in all having their names called on draft day is not out of the question. Below, 10 players are listed in alphabetical order.
Ruslan Bashkirov, RW, Quebec Remparts
DOB: January 25, 1989; Height: 6’0; Weight: 184 lbs.
Roman Bashkirov, LW, Quebec Remparts
DOB: January 25, 1989; Height: 5’10; Weight: 166 lbs.
CHL teams are only allowed two Europeans on their roster. With that in mind, the Quebec Remparts scored a slam-dunk by picking up the Bashkirov twins at the 2006 Import Draft. Ruslan is considered to be the more talented of the duo, but so far both players have been productive, coming in at third and fourth in rookie scoring. Not surprisingly, the pair is tied in points – 38 – through 41 games, with Ruslan having 17 goals and 21 assists, while Roman has 18 goals and 20 assists. While not identical twins like the Sedins (Roman is two inches taller than his brother), the success of the Swedes in Vancouver could entice an NHL team to make sure the brothers stay together at the draft. Both players have great puck skills and skate well and considering that teammate Angelo Esposito is also draft-eligible this year. The 2007 Entry Draft could be an impressive showing for the Remparts.
T.J. Brennan, D, St. John’s Fog Devils
DOB: April 3, 1989; Height: 6’0; Weight: 198 lbs.
One of the top defensive prospects in the QMJHL, Brennan has been an astute pickup for the second-year Fog Devils. The New Jersey native has helped solidify the St. John’s blue line with three goals and 16 points in 37 games. Those stats place him third amongst defensemen on his team and fourth amongst rookie blue liners in the league. Brennan has all the skills to be a solid hard-nosed player in the future, but the tool that’s the most talked about is his rocket shot that has been clocked at 97 mph.
Raffaele d’Orso, G, Val d’Or Foreurs
DOB: February 2, 1989; Height: 5’10; Weight: 172 lbs.
How good is Raffaele d’Orso? In his rookie year in the QMJHL, his play has forced his way into a tandem situation with Alexandre Vincent (VAN), a top five goaltender in the league last season. In 20 games, the rookie has a strong record of 15-4 and has a shutout to his name. His GAA of 3.01 and save percentage of .894 both place him within the top 10 statistical leaders in the league. To be fair, Val d’Or’s defense has been strong, and d’Orso has averaged fewer than 30 shots a game, a rarity in the QMJHL. He will likely be relegated back to the backup role down the stretch, though, after Val d’Or’s acquisition of another overage netminder, Jeremy Duchesne (PHI), last week.
Angelo Esposito, C, Quebec Remparts
DOB: February 20, 1989; Height: 6’1, Weight: 174 lbs.
Entering the 2006-07 season, Esposito was considered by many to be the likely No. 1 overall selection. While he is still in the running for the top spot, he’s only one of many who could be the first player selected. Though he is still putting up strong numbers, with 57 points in 39 games, the game-breaking forward has still had his share of difficulties this season. He was an early cut from the Team Canada World Junior Selection Camp, and has been prone to bouts of inconsistency and occasional defensive lapses. He still has some of the best raw talent and will likely have his name called within the first few picks.
Maxime Gratchev, LW, Rimouski Oceanic
DOB: September 26, 1988; Height: 5’11; Weight: 198 lbs.
Currently in his third year in the QMJHL, Gratchev is finally getting a chance to show his offensive wares this year with the Oceanic. Gratchev had spent the bulk of the last two seasons playing on the deep Quebec Remparts squads, seeing only spot duty in the back half of the line-up before being moved to Rimouski at last year’s deadline. Boasting a great offensive skill set, quick skating ability, and defensive responsibility, Gratchev is a solid two-way player. He leads Rimouski in points with 41 in 40 games, 17 of which are goals. Being a late-1988 birthday may work against him, though given his well-rounded game, he will still likely be drafted in the early-to-mid rounds regardless.
David Perron, C, Lewiston MAINEiacs
DOB: May 28, 1988; Height: 5’11; Weight: 183 lbs.
Joining Lewiston as an unheralded 18-year-old rookie playing on a veteran-laden line-up entering the season, it would have been shocking to expect Perron to be leading the MAINEiacs in points at this stage of the season. Yet he does, with 46 points in 40 games – also good enough for first among league rookies. A gifted offensive player with great vision and an excellent wrist shot, Perron has flourished playing alongside drafted teammates Marc-Andre Cliche (NYR) and Stefan Chaput (CAR). Despite his strong offensive game, Perron tends to shy away from his defensive responsibilities, and will have to show marked improvement on that aspect of his game during the remainder of this season if he is to hear his name called early on draft day. Still, his offensive talent is tantalizing.
David Stich, D, Saint John Sea Dogs
DOB: April 15, 1989; Height: 6’2; Weight: 209 lbs.
The Sea Dogs first selection in this year’s CHL Import Draft, Stich is a member of an impressive three-pack of young defensemen with the Sea Dogs, including fellow 2007-eligible Alex Grant and future talent Yann Sauve. Boasting good size, great mobility in his own end, and a poised, focused defensive game, supplemented by responsible physical play, the Czech blueliner is an excellent stay-at-homer in the making. Due to the youth of the squad, Stich has also been getting a chance to hone his modest offensive game, seeing occasional time on the power play. He currently sits with 14 points in 30 games.
Keven Veilleux, C, Victoriaville Tigres
DOB: June 27, 1989; Height: 6’5; Weight: 200 lbs.
Veilleux is one of the largest players eligible from the QMJHL in this year’s draft class, boasting a massive 6’5 frame, coupled with excellent offensive ability and creativity with the puck. There are still a couple of knocks on the game of the Tigres pivot. One is that he does not use his size very effectively, tending to shy away from physical contact, and not displaying much grit down low. Also, his defensive game is hit or miss at present. Still a project, Veilleux could still end up being selected late in the first round (or in the second), given his high offensive ceiling. Still, he will have to develop in the other aspects of the game if he is to succeed at the next level. He currently has 36 points in 40 games.
Jakub Voracek, RW, Halifax Mooseheads
DOB: August 15, 1989; Height: 6’1; Weight: 188 lbs.
The top selection in the 2006 CHL Entry Draft, Jakub Voracek leads his team and is second among QMJHL rookies in scoring with 42 points, 14 of them goals, in 32 games. Although his first year in North America has been slightly inconsistent, he is one of the top prospects entering the draft. Still young, he has been tasked with the role of catalyst for the Mooseheads attack and has responded well to the challenge. A wizard with the puck and blessed with great breakaway speed, Voracek was a participant for the Czech Republic at the 2007 World Junior Championships in Sweden.
Kevin Forbes and Phil Laugher contributed to this article. Copyright 2007 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.