Hockey is alive and well in the Maritimes.
Actually one could say it’s flourishing with so many elite level players pursuing their hockey dreams in the QMJHL and south of the border.
This article will only feature those Maritimer’s playing in the QMJHL on the NHL’s Central Scouting Midterm Report
The next crop of young up and coming NHL Draft eligible identified by NHL Central Scouting feature four defencemen and three forwards playing in the QMJHL.
Nicolas Savoie D Quebec Remparts
Savoie is the quintessential stay at home defencemen.
The Dieppe, New Brunswick product plays in every situation for Patrick Roy and has certainly had two solid seasons up to date in the QMJHL. The strong skating solid puck moving defencemen isn’t flashy by any means and may have seen his draft stock fall slightly due to an early season knee injury, which sidelined him for a few weeks.
The one perceived knock against Savoie is a lack of offensive upside.
At only 6’0 tall, most NHL scouts are also looking for other intangibles that may jump off the page, which could translate to the next level, like offence. Savoie does possess an above average shot from the point and does have the ability to rush the puck, but he choses to play a sound defensive style of game. Savoie is ranked 190th on the NHL Central Scouting’s Midterm List.
Brady Burns F Saint John Sea Dogs
Brady Burns is a dynamic scoring forward with elite level skill, scoring touch and play making ability.
After reading that you may question his 188th place ranking on NHL Central Scouting Midterm Report.
If Brady Burns was 6’0 feet tall and above, he would be well inside the first two rounds of the draft rankings, but clearly he’s not. Listed at 5’8 Burns continues to amaze in his second season in the Port City. At times last year Burns seemed lost amongst the trees, but the highly skilled forward had a breakout second half and found a way to excel and have offensive success.
The Port Williams, Nova Scotia product is as elusive as they come and can certainly pick and choose his spots to generate offence at every turn. Burns is a throw back player who is arguably within the top 10 most naturally gifted players in the QMJHL.
Obviously, Burn’s size and ability to play a full 200ft game has NHL scouts questioning his place in the draft and perhaps at the next level. Those are pretty massive questions or concerns to be addressed, but it’s all about projecting.
I can guarantee you no one has ever questioned that young man’s individual skill set and hockey sense.
Burns is a shifty speedy forward, but in my opinion will have to get even faster if he wants to play at the next level.
Charlie Desroches D Saint John Sea Dogs
Charlie Desroches is another exceptional defender from PEI.
There must be something in the water over there, because the Island keep producing elite level defencemen.
Desroches is a highly skilled puck mover and extremely gifted skater with great vision and a first pass.
Desroches had a fantastic rookie season last year in the Port City and was the one bright light on a very young and inexperienced blueline.
The proud Islander has seen his draft stock fall slightly, but has already interviewed with sixteen NHL teams.
There’s no question, Desroches is a special talent who’s game can certainly translate to the next level.
The young right shooting D-man thinks the game extremely, but needs to take charge a little bit more in certain areas and at certain times in the game.
There’s no doubt Jeremie Poirier is getting all of the attention, but in my opinion, Desroches is more complete and plays a much more detailed two-way game.
Desroches is currently listed at 169th on the Central Scouting list, that’s very low in my opinion.
There’s no question, Desroches has been playing in the shadow of Poirier, and needs more offensive opportunities to flourish.
Desroches has been matched up against other team’s top lines on year long which is great for his defensive game, but that’s a big reason his point totals are down. Poirier logs close to half or well over half the Dogs first power play unit time so Desroches only sees 2nd unit PP minutes while logging 1st PK minutes.
It’s undeniable, Charlie Desroches can flat out play the game.
The kid from Days Corner, has an extra gear and I’m sure we are going to see it as the second half of the season progresses.
169th now, but a lot higher when the next list is released. The sky is the limit for Charlie Desroches.
Cole Cormier F Quebec Remparts
Cole Cormier has experienced a lot in his short time in the QMJHL.
From making the Oceanic out of camp last season to being sent back to Midget, to making the Oceanic this season and having success, to being left off Central Scouting’s first list to getting traded to the Quebec Remparts at the deadline, Cole Cormier has seen it all in his short time in the circuit.
The one constant in all of this has been Cormier’s relentless pursuit of his dream.
Cormier is hitting his full stride in the QMJHL and it’s truly great to see him get some recognition for all his efforts on the NHL Central Scouting list at 115th overall.
Cormier is a powerful skater with great agility and edge control, but perhaps his best weapons are his hockey sense and shot.
Cormier has a pro release and is always a threat when he’s on the ice, because he can basically score from anywhere.
Cormier has adjusted very well to playing without the puck and playing against bigger and stronger players.
At the early stages of the year, Cormier struggled and was getting pushed off pucks because of lack of leverage and understanding hoe to use his lower body to protect and shield the puck from the opposition.
Clearly Cormier has addressed that issue and is starting to put up points at an alarming clip.
Cormier was born to play the game, and is driven to do whatever it takes to get to the next level.
Hard work, dedication, persistence, skill and perseverance that’s Cole Cormier.
Cormier’s draft stock continues to soar.
You can guarantee Cole Cormier will stay grounded and committed to process and won’t get caught up in looking at the numbers or rankings for that matter. For Cormier it’s all about progressing and getting better every time he steps on the ice.
Lukas Cormier D Charlottetown Islanders
After suffering a broken foot earlier in the season Lukas Cormier has seamlessly picked up right where he left off leading the Islanders offensive charge from the backend.
The dynamic skating defender has drawn many comparisons to NHL standouts like Samuel Girard and Torey Krug.
Cormier has ability to control the pace of the game and is extremely accountable in all three zones and certainly doesn’t shy away from the physical aspect of the game and position.
Can Cormier jump into the NHL’s 1st round come June?
One knock on Cormier from a NHL Scouting perspective will always be his size.
Size certainly doesn’t matter when you have Cormier’s overall talent, but the question remains can the St-Marie-de-Kent product handle the physical demands of the game and position at the next level?
It’s all about projecting, and by all accounts Cormier has excelled at every level thus far so what’s saying he can’t continue to do so.
Cormier will have to take “a less is more” approach and not force the issue in the second half of the season and beyond.
In my opinion, that’s one area that Cormier struggles with because he cares so much about winning. You see Lukas Cormier tries to do too much at times which causes him to turn pucks over or get caught up the ice. That’s the only knock that I have on the young man, and to be brutally honest, that aspect of his game is easily correctable.
Lukas Cormier is amongst the world’s elite and he’s getting better by the minute.
At 27th overall on the Midterm List, there’s no place to go but up for Cormier.
Ryan Francis C Cape Breton Eagles
Ryan Francis is ranked 43rd on the NHL Central Midterm List and it’s clear the high scoring kid from Beaver Bank, Nova Scotia has certainly caught the attention of NHL Scouts with his performance over the last two seasons in the QMJHL.
Francis has a motor that never stops.
His relentless compete level and determination to win puck battles in all zones of the ice is truly extraordinary.
From a purely skill perspective, Francis scores off the charts.
His creativity, vision and passing ability makes him offensive threat every time he steps on the ice.
Sure Francis plays with Egor Sokolov and Tyler Hinam, but this kid creates his own offence and creates offensive opportunities for them as well.
Ryan Francis can do it all, but again the knock on the him has always been his size.
Is he strong enough physically to play at the next level and excel?
Obviously it would depend on the right organization and the right situation, but who knows?
It’s all about projecting and that’s extremely hard to do, but that’s part of the job.
No one has ever doubted Francis’ skill and determination, will that be enough to get him drafted into the National Hockey League? I don’t doubt it a bite.
Justin Barron D Halifax Mooseheads
One can only imagine what Justin Barron and his family is going through right now dealing with a blood clot that has him sidelined indefinitely.
Thank goodness for the Mooseheads Athletic Therapist Robin Hunter who diagnosed the clot almost instantly or things could have taken a tragic turn.
It’s unclear if the star defencemen will return to action this season or not.
Why risk it at this point, we all know what this kid can do!
NHL Scouts have been watching Barron for quite some time and know exactly what the highly skilled puck moving and transitional defencemen can really do.
Barron’s skill set is off the charts and he checks off all the boxes when it comes to the proverbial NHL defencemen.
The Halifax, Nova Scotia product is arguably the most complete defencemen in the entire QMJHL. As of right now Barron is slotted in at 15th overall and it would be a shame to see him drop in the rankings due to him not playing.
Time will tell, but rest assured Justin Barron deserves to be 1st rounder, he’s earned it.