Gems From the QMJHL | Habs Feature

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Joshua Roy, William Trudeau, Xavier Simoneau, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Canadiens.com)

Montreal, Canadiens, Feature, Habs, News, NHL, QMJHL, Joshua Roy, Miguel Tourigny, Raphael Harvey-Pinard, Riley Kidney, William Trudeau, Xavier Simoneau, Prospects, Trevor Timmins

Joshua Roy, William Trudeau, Xavier Simoneau, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Canadiens.com)

ROCKET SPORTS MEDIA | MONTREAL, QC. — The Canadiens’ pre-season is underway and it has arrived with plenty of intrigue.

The Canadiens answered a hotly-debated question at their annual golf tournament  announcing Nick Suzuki as the 31st captain in team history. Almost immediately, Quebec politicians pounced trying to make the appointment of native of London, Ontario an election issue. That was despite Suzuki making his first comments as captain in French.

Must every decision devolve into a language controversy?

The issue rears its ugly head every year following the NHL Entry Draft. Many commentators believe the Canadiens should draft more players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) or more francophone players.

Critics were out in force after the 2022 Draft where the Canadiens selected one QMJHL player with their eleven draft picks. When asked Habs’ director of amateur scouting Martin Lapointe replied “It has nothing to do with Quebecers. We like them, we want them. But it doesn’t always work out. The timing wasn’t there.” (translated from French)

Setting aside the negativity from the critics, what if we examine the stable of young players from Quebec selected by the organization? A quick look at the Canadiens’ draft choices over the past few years supports Lapointe’s assessment.

In fact, not only have the Canadiens selected a good number of players from the QMJHL in the past years, but they also chosen very promising prospects. Let’s take a closer look and examine what we can expect from them.

Dynamo from Victoriaville

First and foremost, there is Miguël Tourigny. Selected in the seventh round of the 2022 draft, Tourigny is a 5-foot-8-inch, 170 pound, right-handed defenseman.

Tourigny is the ninth best prospect in the Canadiens’ organization according to Corey Pronman’s annual Pipeline Rankings. Pronman describes Tourigny as a dynamic player with “elusive” skating abilities and above-average puck-moving skills. Tourigny also has a good shot and passes the puck well.

His size and lack of strength is likely the reason that made him drop to the seventh round in this year’s draft. However, with smaller dynamic defensemen being a hot commodity in the NHL right now, Tourigny may be able to carve out a pro career.

Rafael Harvey-Pinard, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Canadiens.com)

‘Lavalagher’

That’s a very fitting nickname for Rafael Harvey-Pinard, who wears the number 11 with the Laval Rocket.

A Rouyn-Noranda Huskies and Chicoutimi Saguenéens alumni, Harvey-Pinard was drafted in the seventh round, 201th overall, back in 2019. Starting his third year with the Laval Rocket, he is already a fan favorite.

This popularity is mostly due to his competitiveness, work ethic and ability to find open space. With a 5-foot-9 inch, 183 pound frame, the small winger is frequently compared to Brandon Gallagher because of his relentless efforts on the ice.

In my opinion, Harvey-Pinard has the tools and the mentality to play in the NHL. Last year with the Rocket, he put up 56 points in 69 games. In a couple of years, one can hope that he can transition to be a regular bottom-six forward with the Canadiens.

Island Intrigue

Out of the four players from the QMJHL drafted by the Canadiens in 2021, William Trudeau was the only defenseman.

The 19-year-old, six-footer was taken in the fourth round, at 113 overall from the Charlottetown Islanders. His strengths are his vision, puck-moving skills and his shot. However, his skating would need some work to be an NHL regular. Nonetheless, Trudeau is a prospect to keep an eye on.

The Diminutive King

Xavier Simoneau is another intriguing QMJHL prospect from the 2021 draft. He was selected in the sixth round, at 191th overall.

The 5-foot-6 and 183 pounds, the center scored an impressive 24 goals and 62 assists for 86 points in 48 games with the Charlottetown Islanders in the 2021-2022 season.

In his 2021 NHL Pipeline Rankings, Pronman describes Simoneau as a competitive forward with good skating skills. However, his size and lack of elite abilities raise questions about his professional future.

Although, considering his point production in juniors, Simoneau might be able to have a good AHL career, which would be a good achievement for a 6th-round pick.

Riley Kidney, Montreal Canadiens (Photo by Canadiens.com)

The Kid from Halifax

When Riley Kidney was taken in the second round in 2021, he was already considered one of the Habs’ best prospects. He strengthened this belief last year after a 100 point performance with the Acadie-Bathurst Titans.

His superb season even allowed him to be named to Canada’s 2022 World Junior Team. Unfortunately, he only got to play three games in the tournament and didn’t score any points.

According to Scott Wheeler from the Athletic “Kidney is a fabulous pass-first playmaking pivot who breezes around the ice and thrives with the puck on his stick, picking teams apart with delays and just the right amount of patience.”

Kidney has been sent to the Acadie-Bathurst Titan following his appearance at the main training camp. He will likely need development in the AHL before joining the big club. Still, he has a lot of upside and talent and will probably end up playing in the NHL one day.

The Hidden Gem

Last but not least there is Joshua Roy. Roy wasn’t necessarily a top prospect in the 2021 draft year. After all, he did only put up 35 points in 35 games in the 2020-2021 season.

This explains why the Canadiens took him in the fifth round of the draft. But Roy has impressed with his progression.

Indeed, Roy scored close to two points per game with the Sherbrooke Phoenix in his draft plus one year. In 2021-’22, his 119 points (51 goals and 68 assists) performance in only 66 games made him the Jean Beliveau Trophy, which is granted to the player with the most points in the QMJHL.

His excellent even play got him to play a big role with Canada’s junior team at the 2022 World Junior Championship. In a top-9 role with the team, Roy tallied eight points in seven games.

It’s not a stretch to say that Roy is the most promising QMJHL prospect in the Habs’ system. He is a good puck-mover, is creative and has a knack for scoring from the dots. If he is developed properly, there’s a bright future for him in the NHL.

Final Assessment

This quick overview of Canadiens’ prospects from the QMJHL shows that the Canadiens have drafted multiple ‘local’ players who have solid chances to succeed.

Political debates may spark headlines. However, an objective analysis of the situation shows that there are a lot of positives to take from the Canadiens’ draft history.

Habs fans can follow and support the young talent with pride.

By Gustave Pinault-Masson, Staff Writer
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