Sat. Dec 4th, 2021

Connor Trenholm (photo courtesy of Jeremy Fraser, Saltwire.com)

By Loïc Rainville
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After a full month of playoffs, only two teams remain: Val-d’Or and Victoriaville. Val-d’Or still are the favorite with their powerhouse team, but Victoriaville’s deep roster could obviously make a surprise. Pretty incredible to know that this final is played with 2000 fans, clearly an awesome job by the league for this season. 

So with a whole month of post-season hockey, quite a lot has changed on this ranking, due to a mix of overall more viewings on “under-the-radar” prospects and playoff performance. Guys like Connor Trenholm, Cole Huckins and Riley Kidney saw their stocks rising, while names like Xavier Bourgault, Olivier Nadeau and Zach Dean dropped. 

A grade: 1st round

B grade: 2nd/3rd round

C grade: 4th/5th round

D grade: 6th/7th round 

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Top 15 Prospects

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1 – Zachary Bolduc: C / 6’1 / 175lbs – Rimouski Océanic

There were some talks that the top prospect might come back after the unexpected series win against Shawinigan; we just have to hope his injuries won’t slow him down in the future. He’s not necessarily in a class all by himself, but no other players surpass him.

Grade: A | Viewings this season: 18

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2 – Evan Nause: LD / 6’2 / 186lbs – Québec Remparts

Promising defenseman due to his footwork, puck skills and energy. He’d probably be number one if it wasn’t for his frequent mistakes in his zone; such as forgetting to play the stick when boxing out, leaving the zone too early and forgetting his man behind and getting caught focusing on the puck too much. 

Grade: A | Viewings: 19

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3 – Manix Landry: C / 5’11 / 178lbs – Gatineau Olympiques 

Fast and intelligent forward, can be used in every role so far in juniors. His playmaking really took a nice step up since October. I know many Habs fans went loud recently due to the lack of “Québécois” in the organization; Landry’s a great option. 

Grade: A | Viewings: 23

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4 – Oscar Plandowski: RD / 6’0 / 190lbs – Charlottetown Islanders

Plandowski minimizes mistakes and keeps a straightforward game, all that while being a good skater. Reads very well the game, especially when it comes to hitting the opponent off the rush. Not flashy, yet super effective. 

Grade: B | Viewings: 20

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5 – Riley Kidney: C / 5’11 / 178lbs – Acadie-Bathurst Titan

An absolutely surprising year for Kidney; he established himself as Bathurst number one center throughout the season and he finished May with 17 playoff points in only 9 games. An incredible passer, best on this list for sure. Plays well defensively and gives a good effort. Agile and possesses good edges, but his strides must extend further. 

Grade: B | Viewings: 16

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6 – Cameron Whynot: LD / 6’1 / 180lbs – Halifax Mooseheads

Skates well East-West, distributes the puck nicely and can quarterback a power play. Earlier, I had question marks on his defensive game, but it improved quite pretty well over the course of the season. 

Grade: B | Viewings: 21

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7 – Zach Dean: C / 6’0 / 176lbs – Gatineau Olympiques

Playmaking forward with an outstanding pair of hands, a pure skilled player. Unfortunately, he can be selfish with the puck, he can get lost in the defensive zone and he isn’t the best shooter. Skating techniques look sharp, but he isn’t overly fast yet. Some progress left to work, especially mentally. 

Grade: B | Viewings: 19

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8 – Connor Trenholm: C / 6’1 / 191lbs – Cape Breton Eagles

Trenholm is an excellent two-way center, probably even better than Justin Robidas. He has a really good feel of the game off the puck, combined with a high pace and a hard working style. Strong shooter and decent passer. Quite fast in straight line skating too. Clearly a huge underrated prospect.  

Grade: C | Viewings: 12

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9 – Drew Elliot: LW / 5’10 / 181lbs – Charlottetown Islanders

Fast and energetic skater capable of taking a defensive role. Good stickhandling with a sneaky accurate wrister. Similar to Elliot Desnoyers, I believe he’ll flourish in 2021-2022 as veterans leave the Charlottetown squad. Drew Elliot is also actually not even ranked by the CSS North-American list. 

Grade: C | Viewings: 14

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10 – Tyson Hinds: LD / 6’3 / 178lbs – Rimouski Océanic 

Punishing 6’3 defenseman with an underrated flair in the offensive zone. The speed is good, but the mobility needs to be worked on. He was a big contributor in clutching the win over Shawinigan (even if he missed the two first games due to a suspension). 

Grade: C | Viewings: 19

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11 – Xavier Bourgault: RW / 6’0 / 172lbs – Shawinigan Cataractes

A disappointing playoff performance kind of confirmed to me that Bourgault lacks competitiveness and play driving. As he is already not the fastest player, he often stops moving his feet and waits for the play to come to him. Moreover, he can be caught choking or avoiding corner battles. Great offensively and he produces, but I doubt he’ll translate smoothly at the pro level. 

Grade: C | Viewings: 25

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12 – Cole Huckins: C / 6’3 / 200lbs – Acadie-Bathurst Titan

Big frame, good skating; this is actually plenty enough to get drafted. However, decision making with or without the puck isn’t necessarily on point. Still, there was a nice growth in that matter. 

Grade: C | Viewings: 16

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13 – William Trudeau: LD / 6’0 / 189lbs – Charlottetown Islanders

Remarkable year for William Trudeau, his progression has been amazing for sure. Offensive defenseman who likes to hold on the puck and dictate the play. Skating and defensive awareness took a nice step during the year, but they aren’t as good as his offense yet.

Grade: C | Viewings: 14

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14 – Lorenzo Canonica: C / 5’11 / 179lbs – Shawinigan Cataractes

Strong playoff performance, much better than his teammates Bourgault and Nadeau. Demonstrates a strong compete level and high intelligence defensively. He doesn’t create that much offensively, but it could be due to the adaptation to North America. 

Grade: D | Viewings: 16

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15 – Jacob Melanson: RW / 5’11 / 200lbs – Acadie-Bathurst Titan

Melanson is a real pest on the ice and he never wastes an occasion to perform a hard hit on his opponents. Other than his aggressiveness, nothing really jumps off the page; he’s a pretty complete player. 

Grade: D | Viewings: 8

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Honorable mentions: Zach Biggar (Acadie-Bathurst) – Robert Orr (Halifax) – Viljami Marjala (Québec) – Frédéric Brunet (Rimouski) – Olivier Nadeau (Shawinigan)

To comment, please do so via Twitter @Rainvlo2

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