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Scouting the QMJHL for the next Edmonton Oilers

| Posted in Scouting the QMJHL

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by TheOilKnight – March 6/2019

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This is the 2nd installment of a 3 part series where I will breakdown every draft eligible player in the CHL & rate the possibility of the Edmonton Oilers drafting them. I feel like by doing this it gives even the average fan an opportunity to learn more about Draft prospects without having to do the legwork of searching for them all online. Oilers fans in particular are extremely knowledgeable and I’ve found the more information you can provide them about their team at all levels the better. It is important to note, that while I am not a Professional Scout I do take this very seriously and have a system I have found that works well over the years. For more information on exactly what I look for please check out my Scouting Basics post…..

The Edmonton Oilers have not done particularly well drafting out of the QMJHL the last few years. In fact, they’ve only drafted one player from the Quebec league in the last four years total (Olivier Rodrigue). Before that, they drafted 8 players from 2004-2014, only one of which ever even played a game in the NHL and it was for only 2 games (Philippe Cornet). That’s awful. 14 years and counting and not ONE impact player drafted? How is that even possible? You really have to question whoever is in charge of scouting that league.

Last season, two of my favourite prospects in the entire draft were from the “Q“- Noah Dobson & Philipp Kurashev. The Oilers took Evan Bouchard over Dobson which is hard to argue as he certainly fit their need for a future offensive defenceman. Kurashev however, dropped to the 4th round despite being a 2nd round talent in my books, but Edmonton traded their 4th rd pick earlier so passed him up. Too bad, as Kurashev is having another strong season for the Quebec Remparts & had a massive World Junior performance where he scored 6 goals in 7 games for Switzerland. He looks like a true sleeper draft year +1.

Anyways, here is a list of all the Centers who are likely to be drafted this year out of the “Q“. The first column is a general ranking based on where I think they should be rated roughly. Not every player is ranked by every system so I tried to list the most appropriate. I used a variety of resources: ISS (International Scouting Services), FC (Future Considerations), NCS (NHL Central Scouting) and my own rankings to determine where they could be drafted. The rankings will likely change by end of the year but this is a good measuring stick for now. I used hockeydb.com for the measurables and the player links all direct to eliteprospects.com.

Center

OVR RankShootsCENTERSSizeWeightGPGAP
FC 11RRaphael Lavoie6’419862324173
NCS 29LNikita Alexandrov6’017964273461
NCS 63LMikhail Abramov5’1016162163854
NCS 72 LValentin Nussbaumer6’016858172138
NCS 165 L Mathieu Bizier
6’018768142539
NCS 198 L Filip Prikryl
6’117067141731
NCS 204 L Xavier Simoneau
5’717255183957
NCS 209 L Xavier Parent
5’1018163143145
NR L Alexei Sergeyev 5’716867151934
NR R Marcel Barinka6’11615171118

Players I’d consider a “maybe” for the Oilers:

Raphael Lavoie – There might not be a more intriguing mid 1st round pick in this draft for me than Lavoie. I loved this player last season but this season it was all over the map. I saw him good, then read some critical reviews so went back & watched more video & it caused some concerns. It’s tough to dismiss your initial impressions on a prospect but something about this player scares me. There are red flags in his game so subsequently, I think the bust potential is real. He’s still a 1st rounder in my books but I’m much more leery now.

Lavoie is a big guy who has good top-end speed for his size, and can really shoot the puck first and foremost. His shot is hard with a terrific release & he can shoot from anywhere. That makes him extremely valuable to a team like EDM for example. He also goes hard to the net and does a good job of shielding opponents with his big frame. His first couple steps need work though. Lavoie has a certain swagger about him that I’m not sure is a good thing or not. His hockey IQ seems to highly debatable depending on who you talk to. I think much of it depends on which night you catch you him on. What I’ve noticed is a lot of times, he slows down and allows defenders to take away his time and space, then SETTLES for a low percentage shot. That’s probably where that “poor decision making” narrative comes from. But, he looks like a true power forward in this draft who loves to shoot the puck.

The knocks on him are consistency & lack of defensive awareness at times. He plays on a stacked team and didn’t always show up on the scoreboard like he should have early, but has gotten better as the season has gone on and in the playoffs. He can play center or the wing but if does not continue to improve his defence and decision making, will end up on the wing in the NHL which wouldn’t be a bad thing. His 46.5 FO% also tells me he might be better suited as a RW anyways. Edmonton has a huge need for a player like this so it wouldn’t be a shock at all if they trade down to free up some salary, and target a guy like Lavoie later in the 1st round. He is a late 2000 birthday so just missed the cut-off for getting drafted last year, but put up 30 goals, 63 pts last season so that’s not a concern for me. Watch this highlight from Team Canada last summer:

***Update*** As of April 18, Lavoie has dominated in the playoffs for Halifax. He has 13 goals & 20 points in 11 playoff games. 5 of those goals however, were ENG’s.

Conclusion: There’s no question some of the success this prospect had is because he is bigger & stronger than everyone in Junior and can really rip the puck. He’s far from a complete product, they are some concerns about his game & the IQ is still a question mark. Probably going to be a RW instead of a Center. Sort of reminds me of Jesse Puljujarvi in Edmonton.

Projected Round: Mid-late 1st round pick

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Nikita Alexandrov – One of the biggest risers on draft boards this year, Alexandrov is a silky smooth pivot who certainly looks the part. Has nice size, good speed, can dangle & is a smart player who makes a lot of good, subtle plays. He displays great vision & can make some terrific passes. He kind of reminds me of Matvei Guskov in the OHL except he goes harder to the net & has a much better shot. His wrister is absolutely deadly and he shoots a ton. 192 shots in 58 games for a center. Great hands in tight too. Still needs to work on his defensive game from what I can tell but by all indications is improving in that area. 43.6 FO% will need to get better but projects as a Center at the next level. Sneaky upside as he appears to still be a bit raw. Looks like an early 2nd rd pick.

Projected Round: late 1st round to 2nd round pick

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Valentin Nussbaumer – This is a player that grows on you the more you watch him. His best trait is probably his competitiveness. He never stops hustling, creates a lot of turnovers & wins more than his share of puck battles. He’s not a speedster but he’s real quick in short bursts & is elusive and agile. While not quite the playmaker his fellow countryman Philipp Kurashev is, Nussbaumer always seems to be around the net and creating chances. Like Kurashev, he needs to shoot more as he has a very quick shot & release but only has 96 SOG in 53 games. He is a strong 200 ft player and can also play the wing. 41.9 FO% likely means he will be a winger at the next level. Real nice player on an awful Shawinigan team. Excellent value in the 3rd round. Could be a steal if he drops to 4th round or later. Talented, versatile, determined player.

Projected Round: 3rd-4th round pick

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*** Alexey Sergeev & Xavier Simoneau are both intriguing late round players too. Both have some nice scoring ability. Sergeev has had some nice chemistry with Kurashev, while Simoneau is tiny but can score.

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Who I don’t like for the Oilers:

Mikhail Abramov – An intelligent playmaker, Abramov lacks overall speed and appears to be more of a perimeter player than a guy who likes go hard to the net or battle along the boards. Skinny kid who loses too many puck battles & gets pushed off puck. More of a passer than a shooter. Can make some terrific passes while displaying great vision. Currently ranked ahead of Nussbaumer, I think his overall determination pales in comparison. Easy to play against type who needs to get bigger, stronger and work on his speed.

Projected Round: 3rd-5th rd pick

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Left Wing

OVR RankShootsLeft WingSizeWeightGPGAP
FC 20LJakob Pelletier5’916165395089
FC 22LSamuel Poulin6’120767294776
NCS 102RTaro Jentzsch6’116853182442
NCS 156LBrett Budgell6’019267181533
NCS 200LBrooklyn Kalmikov6’017061191029
NRLOliver Okuliar6’119266142842
NCS 151LBailey Peach5’1017454112435
NRLJeremy Martin6’018362152439
NRLMika Cyr5’917466283967

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Players I’d consider a “maybe” for the Oilers:

Samuel Poulin – Poulin reminds me a bit of Raphael Lavoie. He’s big, strong and goes hard to the net. He also shoots a lot & has a big shot including a deadly one-timer. While, he may not have as much speed or overall skillset as Lavoie, he seems to play with more determination in is game at both ends of the ice. Poulin is a good playmaker especially down low, and a nifty stickhandler in his own right. Not sure if the offensive upside is there or his numbers are just a product of his size and determination. But, he’s a volume shooter so the Oilers should consider him. I just wouldn’t take him in the 1st round and would be hesitant to take him early 2nd. Speed probably the biggest drawback. Could very well end up being a “better than the sum of his parts” type of player due to his outstanding work ethic. Showed well at the Prospects game.

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Projected Round: Late 1st-early 2nd Round Pick

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Jakob Pelletier – There is plenty to like about Pelletier I just don’t think he would be a good fit for the Oilers. Why? For one, he reminds me a lot of Kailer Yamamoto. That small, but skilled forward who at times gets pushed around too much trying to play a possession game. Edmonton needs more shooters and Pelletier can be guilty of over-passing and not shooting enough. Plus, the Oilers need more speed in their lineup and Pelletier’s speed looks to be average for his size. Make no mistake, he is highly skilled and could have a successful career somewhere as versatile playmaker. I just don’t see the fit in Edmonton.

Projected Round: Late 1st-early 2nd round pick

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Right Wing

OVR RankShootsRight WingSizeWeightGPGAP
FC 44RNathan Legare6’019668433780
FC 57RMaxim Cajkovic5’1118760222446
FC 72RAlex Beaucage6’219268394079
FC 78LYegor Serdyuk5’1116563254065
NCS 166RYaroslav Likhachyov5’1116857121224
NCS 160LJeremy Michel6’115064162642
NRLChristophe Farmer5’10154416713

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Who I like for the Oilers:

Maxim Cajkovic – Pronounced “Chy-ko-vich”, here is a player that has a dynamic skillset and has really come on in 2nd half of season. The former 1st overall pick in the Import draft, Cajkovic is a offensive force. His shot and release are elite, as he can score from almost anywhere. He’s also a terrific passer and makes a lot of smart plays with the puck. He can really drive the play and create chances on his own but still plays an unselfish game. Has excellent speed & acceleration. He shows up big in tournaments for Slovakia, and had a lot of success playing in Sweden as a teenager. Stood out for me at the Hlinka-Gretzky vs. Team Canada. His Junior team the Saint John Sea Dogs are having a lousy season but he is clearly their best player. Has the potential to be a real sleeper in 2nd round. Has that “Whoa” factor. Perfect type of player for the Oilers.

Projected Round: 2nd-3rd Round Pick

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Nathan Legare – I rank Legare below Cajkovic because I like Cajkovic’s game better. But, there is a lot to like about Legare who has 43 goals in 62 games. He has a big shot and relentless work ethic which certainly bodes well for his potential. He scores a pile of goals right in front of the net as he loves to hang out around the blue paint. Plus, he’s a battler. He battles along the boards and in his own zone. Not sure his game translates well to the NHL though. His speed is somewhat suspect and he’s not really a driver, he’s more of a trigger man. He’s got decent size but isn’t overly physical. Classic overachiever who gets by on sheer guts and determination which should make him a fan favourite. I see a Matthew Tkachuk type minus the puck skills and chippiness. Complimentary winger.

Projected Round: 2nd-3rd rd pick

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Players I don’t like for the Oilers:

Alex Beaucage – Another natural goal scorer, Beaucage is big and strong but slow afoot. He also plays on a very good team (54-7-1) and probably benefits from that more than anything. He has a terrific shot though and can dangle in close. Not sure about his 200 foot game as his team is so strong everyone is +30 or so. Tough to get an accurate read on this player but the speed factor probably means he slips a bit and not a great fit for Edmonton.

Projected Round: 3rd-4th Round Pick

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Yegor Serdyuk – A goal scorer, but similar to Arthur Kaliyev in that he doesn’t do enough away from the puck for my liking. Not really a driver relies more on his linemates to do the dirty work as he tries to get open. Doesn’t work hard enough in puck battles. Speed isn’t great though he is quick in short bursts. Questionable 200 ft game. Seems disinterested at times. Too many red flags for me despite the knack for goal scoring.

Projected Round: 4th-6th Round Pick

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Defencemen

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OVR RankShootsDefencemenSizeWeightGPGAP
FC 55LArtemi Knyazev5’1117655132134
FC 90LJustin Bergeron6’118165164157
NCS 57RMaxence Guenette6’11816882432
NCS 59RJordan Spence5’101656864349
NCS 42LSamuel Bolduc6’42126592837
NCS 172ROliver Turan6’52186131013
NCS 147RNoah Laaouan5’111706951823
NCS 152RThomas Pelletier6’31926421214
NCS 169RSean Larochelle5’101596872229
NCS 194RNathan Larose6’11925361319
NRLJarrett Baker6’01876851419
NCS 208LJasper Rannisto6’2176523811
NCS 216LAdam McCormick5’111816372330
NRLJaxon Bellamy6’41836051116
NRLSimon Le Coutre 6’01832710717

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Who I like for the Oilers:

Artemi Knyazev – If you’re looking for a puck rushing defenceman with great offensive instincts in this crop, then look no further than Knyazev. He is a fabolous skater who transitions from defence to offence quickly as he’s always looking to jump up and join the attack. He is a treat to watch as he is very active in the offensive zone that almost looks Quinn Hughes like. Speed & agility are top notch. He also has a very good shot with a quick release. Tied for 3rd in QMJHL in PPG’s with 7, and leads all blueliners with 5 GWG’s. His vision and passing also to appear to be a strength though he does seem to turn the puck over more than you’d like. Very similar to Kolyachonok from the OHL though needs to work on his defensive intensity a bit more. Flashier, but a bit more mistake prone. Terrific talent nonetheless, can’t see him lasting past the 2nd round.

Projected Round: 2nd rd pick

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Samuel Bolduc – I gotta admit, I’ve seen a variance of opinions on Bolduc. Some people think he is overrated, while others think he is underrated. I gotta say, based on everything I have seen – I’m a big fan of the player. He first stood out to me at the Prospects game where his size and strong skating ability were quite apparent. Then I went back and watched a pile of tape on him and came away very impressed. He also tested extremely well at the combine, finishing 1st overall among all prospects in off-ice testing. On-ice, he was the fastest skater backwards with the puck, and 2nd fastest without just like Noah Dobson the previous year. That matters to me. In fact, I see him as a more physical version of Dobson who while may not have the offensive upside Noah does, can still join the rush and move the puck. Owns a howitzer of a shot & is 2nd in draft eligible dmen with 155 SOG. A big imposing, dman who can really skate, has good leadership qualities and a nastiness to his game which should translate well to the pros. Not a 1st rounder but great value in 2nd-3rd round.

Projected Round: 2nd-3rd rd pick

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Jordan Spence – If the Oilers are looking for speedy, skilled puckmovers than Spence fits that bill to a tee. His size is a bit of a concern but his skating abilities are not. He was passed up in the draft last year but is a trendy sleeper pick this year amongst people I trust. I haven’t seen a lot of him, but he looks fast, makes smart decisions and is pretty good defensively. Shows great anticipation in d-zone to break up plays and quick to lead the breakout out of zone. Moves the puck extremely well & shows great vision. Need to see more but a very intriguing player. Pegged as a 3rd-4th rd prospect right now.

Projected Round: 3rd-4th Round pick

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*** Honestly, there is a lot to like about the Top 4 or 5 dmen in this group as they are all good puck movers. Justin Bergeron just missed the cut-off for being drafted last year. He may not be elite at anything but does everything real well. Smart, mobile, good defensively & has a very hard accurate shot. Maxence Guenette is a terrific skater and puck mover in his own right and is also very capable defensively. Very nice group overall.

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7 Round Mock Draft (QMJHL only)

1st rd – C/RW Raphael Lavoie (trade down)

2nd rd – D Artemi Knyazev

3rd rd – RW Maxim Cajkovic

4th rd – RD Jordan Spence

5th rd – LW/C Alexey Sergeyev

6th rd – C Xavier Simoneau

7th rd – D Jaxon Bellamy

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RECAP:

While the QMJHL draft crop may not have as much high end skill as previous years, there are still plenty of quality prospects that could have an impact at the NHL level. There are a bunch of forwards who know how to score and player a power game. Meanwhile, on defence there are several quick, puck movers that NHL teams covet. Goaltenders are voodoo so I will also update those later as well.

But for now, I’ve highlighted who I think are good fits for the Edmonton Oilers out of the QMJHL for this upcoming draft. Edmonton needs more speed & skill but also guys who play a determined game. The Oilers haven’t had a great history drafting out of this league, it would be nice if they could finally find an impact player or two here. Next up, I will touch on the WHL in the third installment coming out soon.

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About The OilKnight

Born and raised in London, Ontario area. Been an Oilers fan & London Knights fan for almost 30 years.

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