In total, 31 QMJHL players were selected, proving to be the league's best showing on Draft Day since the NHL switched to the seven round format in 2004. Six of those QMJHL players were selected in the first round, which is the most since 1998.
Leading the way was the Halifax Mooseheads' Nathan MacKinnon. Billed as the consensus top pick in the early going of the 2012-13 season, MacKinnon found his draft stock taking a hit in the second half after an unimpressive showing at the World Juniors. However, leading his team to a Memorial Cup championship seemed to rest many doubts and so MacKinnon was selected first overall by the Colorado Avalanche. This was the first time that a QMJHL player went first overall since fellow Cole Harbour native Sidney Crosby was picked in the top spot by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005.
MacKinnon is expected to make the jump directly to the NHL, and there will be at least one familiar face in Colorado when he gets there. Patrick Roy, formerly the GM and coach of the Quebec Remparts, accepted the head coaching position in Colorado prior to the draft. He is quite aware of what MacKinnon brings to the table due to the many memorable matchups over the past two seasons that Halifax and Quebec have had, including a game in 2011 where MacKinnon scored five goals against the Remparts and during the 2012 playoffs where the Mooseheads completed the near-impossible comeback from a 0-3 deficit to eliminate Quebec. Roy and the Avalanche have wasted little time in securing MacKinnon's services for next season and already have him signed to an entry level contract.
After MacKinnon's selection, QMJHL fans did not have to wait too long to hear another name to cheer. MacKinnon's linemate, Jonathan Drouin, was selected just two picks later in the third spot by the Tampa Bay Lightning. A dynamo offensively, Drouin challenged for the league scoring title all season long before a late injury caused him to fall behind. Like MacKinnon, Drouin is expected to jump directly to the NHL and has also already been signed to an entry level deal. Early reports from the Tampa Bay development camp this summer have already caused plenty of excitement as fans envision the eventual partnership of Drouin's magical hands and Lightning star Steven Stamkos's scoring abilities.
Towering defenseman Samuel Morin was the next QMJHL player to be selected, going to the Philadelphia Flyers with the 11th pick. The Rimouski Oceanic defender could one day bring a combination of physical power and two-way ability that has been missing from the Flyers blue line since Chris Pronger was sidelined with injury in 2011.
The Detroit Red Wings added to their stable of QMJHL talent with the 20th overall pick, selecting Anthony Mantha of the Val-d'Or Foreurs. Mantha, who led the league with 50 goals last season, joins a prospect pipeline that already includes QMJHL forwards Martin Frk and Tomas Jurco as well as defenseman Xavier Ouellet.
The selection of Mantha at 20 started off a short streak of QMJHL picks to round out the first round, with the Toronto Maple Leafs adding Rimouski's big center Frederik Gauthier at 21, and Calgary selecting Gatineau's leading scorer Emile Poirier with the 22nd pick. The two-way Gauthier played well in his first season in the QMJHL, but he slowed down in the second half of the year, leading some to question whether his offensive talent will be able to make the jump to pro. Poirier, on the other hand, came as a bit of a surprise selection, but his speed and scoring skills are hardly in doubt.
Another nine QMJHL players were selected in the second round, with notables including Tampa Bay adding their second QMJHL player of the day in Quebec power forward Adam Erne, Montreal picking the first goaltender of the draft in Halifax's Zachary Fucale, and Los Angeles adding the CHL Rookie of the Year in Russian Valentin Zykov of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar.
Nick Sorensen and William Carrier were also second round selections by the Anaheim Ducks and the St. Louis Blues, respectively, after each player has suffered through major injuries in their young careers. Sorensen missed nearly all of his rookie season in 2011-12 with a knee injury and was limited to 46 regular season games this year as Quebec tried to juggle three Import players for the first half of the season. Already in his third season of QMJHL hockey, Carrier missed the entire second half of last season when a nagging ankle injury forced him out of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles lineup.
Injuries also hit hard for forward Yan-Pavel Laplante of the PEI Rocket (now the Charlottetown Islanders). Selected in the third round by the Phoenix Coyotes, the rough-and-tumble forward was limited to just 18 regular season games due to a shoulder injury.
Also selected in the third round was Swiss native Sven Andrighetto. Playing the last two seasons for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies, Andrighetto, who turned 20 in March, was passed over in the previous two drafts before the Montreal Canadiens added the pint-sized scoring machine to their roster. The Huskies should not expect Andrighetto to come back for his over-age season as the Habs wasted no time inking him to an entry-level contract. He should begin his pro career immediately.
Felix Girard of the Baie-Comeau Drakkar was the next QMJHL player selected after Andrighetto, and he too had to wait to be drafted. In his second year of eligibility, Girard was picked in the fourth round by the Nashville Predators. Blainville-Boisbriand's Christopher Clapperton is another QMJHL player on the smaller side who found himself passed over last year before being selected by the Florida Panthers in the fifth round. Goaltender Antoine Bibeau of the PEI Rocket has plenty of size at 6'2, but he too had to wait until his second year of eligibility before the Toronto Maple Leafs nabbed him in the sixth round.
Finally, defenseman Mackenzie Weegar, teammate to Mackinnon and Drouin, the first two QMJHL picks, was the final player drafted out of the QMJHL. Selected in the seventh round by Florida after the Panthers made a minor deal to acquire the pick so they could make the selection, Weegar was also passed over the first time he was draft eligible.
Five of the players drafted were Import players, with the highest selection being Zykov at 37th overall. Meanwhile, Adam Erne at 33rd overall was the sole American-born QMJHL player selected.
The QMJHL at the NHL Draft (by the numbers):
Players selected (QMJHL Team)
4 – Baie-Comeau, Halifax, Rimouski
3 – PEI, Quebec
2 – Blainville-Boisbriand, Gatineau, Rouyn-Noranda, Val-d'Or, Victoriaville
1 – Cape Breton, Chicoutimi, Shawinigan
0 – Acadie-Bathurst, Drummondville, Moncton, Saint John, Sherbrooke
Players selected (NHL Team)
4 – Montreal
3 – Nashville
2 – Florida, Minnesota, New York Rangers, Phoenix, Tampa Bay, Toronto
1 – Anaheim, Calgary, Colorado, Dallas, Detroit, Edmonton, Los Angeles, Ottawa, Philadelphia, St. Louis, San Jose, Winnipeg
0 – Boston, Buffalo, Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, New Jersey, NY Islanders, Pittsburgh, Washington, Vancouver
Players selected (Position)
10 – Left Wing
8 – Center
6 – Defenseman
4 – Goaltender
3 – Right Wing