Tue. Nov 24th, 2020

By Loic Rainville

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The 2020 NHL Draft was, without a doubt, a great year for the QMJHL. Five of their players went in the first round, including the number one selection, Alexis Lafrenière. For 2021, it would surely be a surprise to see once more five young men who play in Eastern Canada go in the first round. Yet, just like 2020, it’s a Rimouski player who’s at the top of this list and the Mooseheads are back at it again with two legit prospects.

***This is an early ranking mostly based on the beginning of the regular season. Opinions are my owns and a lot will change throughout the year***

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1- Zachary Bolduc – Rimouski Océanic – C

Brilliant center with no weakness. Hockey IQ is off the chart and the skills are clearly there. He does everything on the ice and is noticeable every shift. With the departure of Lafrenière and many others, Bolduc is left on an average Rimouski team. Due to the lack of help, expectations for his point production shouldn’t be set too high. Only reproach, so far, is that he could be a better passing option on breakouts.

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2- Evan Nause – Québec Remparts – LD

**Nause played only two regular season games due to the COVID-19 situation in Québec.**

Efficient 6’2 defenseman with a decent offensive potential. Strong and gets physical along the board. Good skater and defensively capable. Still makes some mental mistakes yet, he’s a rookie and plays on his off hand.

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3- Manix Landry – Gatineau Olympiques – C

Compete is his trademark. He isn’t the most offensive prospect, but he always gets his feet moving and it creates a lot of opportunities. The Gatineau captain gives his all every single shift and he can be thrown to play any role. An impactful, fast, engaged and relentless player.

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4- Justin Robidas – Val d’Or Foreurs – C

Quick undersized center. His positioning and defensive awareness are outstanding. Also a good passer, but it’s his hockey sense that really jumps to the eyes. The downside; he is 5’7 and it might obviously become a big knockout.

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5- Oscar Plandowski – Charlottetown Islanders – RD

Two-way defenseman who reads the game very well. He plays the body and makes a good first pass. Loves to jump on the rush. Great skating techniques, but he isn’t highly fast yet. Son of Arizona Coyotes scout Darryl Plandowski. His aggressiveness is the main cause of his mistakes. Everything in his game has to get quicker. 

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6- Zach Dean – Gatineau Olympiques – C

**Since Dean hasn’t played one regular season game due to an injury, it did impact his rank and the observations will be mostly based on the preseason.**

Good hockey IQ and engaged player. Strong awareness and demonstrates quality stick handling. Went from 5’9 to 6’0. Not the fastest guy though. 

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7- Cameron Whynot – Halifax Mooseheads – LD

Smooth skating defenseman over 6 feet with good offensive tools. Without a doubt, the skill set is pretty attractive. However, decision-making is a red flag. With or without the puck, the Moosehead commits way too much mistake. Good when defending rushes, but it gets more complicated in his own end. He has the talent and showed flashes, now, he must prove his defensive liability and overall consistency. 

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8- Xavier Bourgault – Shawinigan Cataractes – RW

An offensive weapon with top creativity. Nice scoring instinct, great pair of hands and good effort. Very agile, but the top speed is average. The physicality and his play in his zone are also ordinary. Highly smart and skilled but there are some question marks on if his style will translate well. 

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9- Zachary L’Heureux – Halifax Mooseheads – LW

Complete winger who plays with nastiness and skill. He had a productive rookie season and it continues this year with Halifax (7pts), on which he is centered by Elliot Desnoyers. Very balanced forward with a robust shot. Effective in all three zones, but doesn’t dominate nor take over games. Not overly smart nor fast and he can often be found cheating. Wildly inconsistent and doesn’t create a ton in the offensive zone. 

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10- Isaac Belliveau – Rimouski Océanic – LD

A crazy productive rookie season, especially due to playing on the first power play unit with Lafrenière. The offensive abilities and instincts are there, same for engagement, effectiveness and intensity. Though, it’s hard to push him higher when his overall skating is this poor. 

Honorable mentions: Maxime Pellerin (Victoriaville) – Cole Huckins (Acadie-Bathurst) – Riley Kidney (Acadie-Bathurst)

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Joshua Roy

One of the best offensive players on this list. Excellent vision and decent shot. However, he demonstrates poor skating and poor intensity level. Often invisible in a game and most of the time immobile. Shine on the power play though.  

Peter Reynolds

Small speedy center who’s everywhere on the ice.