Two highly-touted draft eligible QMJHL prospects were in a barnburner on Oct. 17 that was won by Halifax 5-4 in the shootout.
Saint John center Joshua Roy, the first overall QMJHL pick in the 2019 draft, picked up a goal and an assist, including the game-tying marker with 1:27 remaining in regulation.
It sounds better than it looked. Roy tossed the puck from behind the net after missing a prime scoring chance that Josh Lawrence eventually deposited in the net for a first-period assist. The tying goal pinballed over to him at the side of the net and went off his shinpad into the net; he didn’t even see the puck hit him.
Roy made several smart passes during the game. He sees the ice well and has decent puck skills. He played on a line with Dawson Stairs and Josh Lawrence, who centered the line and drove the play.
And there’s the issue. Call him cerebral, casual, or what have you, the highly-touted forward does not compete with any ferocity. A lot of standing around and a lack of urgency in his game.
He’s got a smooth stride and decent mechanics, but based on this game at least, it’s difficult to say how much speed he possesses, as I don’t think I saw him ever at top speed. If I did, then he’s far from explosive.
Anyway – I expected to see more from a former first overall pick; he’s certainly not in Lafreniere’s class, expecially from a competitiveness standpoint.
It’s a different story with Zachary L’Heureux – he’s pretty much the antithesis of Roy.
He’s at least an inch below 6-0, but is already pushing 200 pounds. Strong, competitive, and quick, in the two years I have been keeping an eye on L’Heureux, he has never played a poor game thanks to his work ethic.
The former Moncton Wildcats’ left winger scored the Mooseheads’ second goal in this contest, redirecting a terrific pass from Philadelphia Flyers’ draft pick Elliot Desnoyers between the netminders’ pads…barely squeaking over the goal line.
He had a few more chances in the contest, including a breakaway opportunity that he failed to convert. By no means the best game I’ve ever seen him play (he’s usually feistier), the throwback to a more rugged era nevertheless made an impact on the game.
In speaking with an NHL scout last week about him, L’Heureux looks like a solid first-round candidate that may even end up being selected in the top 20. Keep working hard, keep improving his foot speed, and keep producing. He does those three things; and he’ll be selected early in the 2021 NHL Draft.
I was wondering why L’Heureux never played in the overtime, and didn’t participate in the shootout. Evidently, when Saint John tied the game with 93 seconds left…a play in which L’Heureux fell while trying to go out to cover the point man, with the subsequent point shot caroming off Roy, L’Heureux picked up a ten-minute misconduct, and was unable to participate in the shootout or the overtime.
You have to like his fire, but it will have to be reined in at times. He reminds me of Max Domi in several ways – short and stocky, powerful, speedy, and mercurial. He will also drop his gloves in a second’s notice, and can handle himself quite well pugilistically.
I like this kid…a lot! You can be sure that this is a Quebecois prospect that will be on the Canadiens’ radar.
Halifax defender Cameron Whynot played a ton with Justin Barron out of the lineup. Sherbrooke’s ninth overall selection in the 2019 QMJHL draft struggled in this game in his own end, finishing the contest -3.
Nothing really stands out in his game from a physical standpoint. Not overly big or small, skates okay but lacks explosiveness, more of a stick defender than a bodychecker, doesn’t make a ton of puck errors but we’re not talking about the next Nicklas Lidstrom either.
In other words – vanilla. He’ll likely end up being drafted – teams with good prospects on them like L’Heureux get scouted lots; and someone will likely not mind this guy. We’ll see how his season progresses – far too early to be judging him definitively one way or the other.
The other draft-eligible prospect on Halifax who will get some attention is Robert Orr.
He certainly has some puck skills and is involved in the play offensively, but he’s on the light side and gets knocked down fairly easily. He competes, though, and if he starts hitting the scoresheet he’ll be someone to keep an eye on as the season progresses.
He’s an early September birthday, so it will be important not to write him off early in the season as he’s barely 17. The announcers in this game kept calling him “Bobby Orr”, but as I said by text to an NHL scout who asked me how he looked, “he’s no Bobby Orr.” This was at least partial payback to the scout telling me a few years back that draft-eligible prospect Michal Jordan was no Michael Jordan.
Saint John has two forwards that were expected to play college hockey this season, but with the uncertainty surrounding COVID being a large factor in the US, both Cam MacDonald and Peter Reynolds joined the Sea Dogs for the 2020-21 campaign.
Reynolds and MacDonald were chosen in the second and third rounds, respectively, in the 2019 QMJHL draft, but were most likely first-round picks if they weren’t slated to head to US colleges.
Both played center the other night, but MacDonald struggled in the faceoff dot, winning only five of 16 faceoffs. He may be better suited for the wing as he is good along the wall; he uses his size and strength to play a physical game and win puck battles despite being a QMJHL rookie.
MacDonald was at Canada U-17 camp last year and was supposed to go to Boston College. He has started slowly production-wise with only one point in four games, but scouts are going to be attracted to his size, smarts and phtyical style. He appears to be a decent skater and has adequate puck skills.
Reynolds has several scoring opportunities, and will likely be asked to play an offensive role on a young Sea Dogs team. He saw ample time on the power play, and at this point at least looks to be ahead of MacDonald on the depth chart. That may change.
Reynolds is not overly large at 5-10, nor is he physical by the look of things basaed on this one viewing. He’ll need to put up some numbers to get considered in the top four rounds of the NHL draft.