2022 NHL Draft

2022 NHL Draft: Top QMJHL Prospects (Skaters)

Danny McGillicuddy  | 1/29/2022  | @DannyMackSport1

Photo: Getty Images

NASHVILLE (The Draft Analyst) — The QMJHL season is on hold for the third time since March of 2020, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be able to supply the NHL draft with several first-round caliber prospects, some who may already have a leg up on their more-heralded counterparts in the OHL and WHL. There are numerous players from “The Q” who already have garnered attention; some benefiting from extended usage on weaker teams, while others had the constraint of skating on a loaded veteran roster. Nonetheless, the QMJHL the last few years has averaged approximately 20 picks per draft, with the skaters listed below expected to have the best chance to hear their names called in July.

Tristan Luneau, RHD
Gatineau Olympiques | 6’2, 175 | 1/12/04 | Shoots Right | Canada

Luneau, the first overall pick in the 2020 QMJHL draft,  is a swift-skating, offensively-skilled rearguard with problem-solving acumen. Blessed with smarts, fantastic vision, and timely anticipation, Luneau is capable of anchoring a defense corps by eating minutes and piling up points. His numbers haven’t changed much from this season (15 points in 26 games) to last (18 points in 31 games), but point production doesn’t reveal just how critical a role Luneau plays for his team. He has fantastic foot work that helps him break down a forecheck, create passing lanes, or get shots through. Luneau does need to fill out so he could effectively use his ideal frame more often, but he’s improved his defensive play to accentuate his plus skating and natural skill set that can pop off the screen.

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Nathan Gaucher, C
Quebec Remparts | 6’3, 208 | 11/6/03 | Shoots Right | Canada

Gaucher (pictured) is an excellent all-around pivot. His size, smarts, compete level, physicality, and skill cause him to be a nightmare match up for opponents. He is not the fastest skater but his IQ and creativity work in concert place to him in advantageous positions in prime scoring areas. Having a late birthday makes Gaucher one of the older first-year eligibles players in the draft, but he’s clearly one of the best QMJHL prospects available. He plays the game with a throwback attitude and acts as though he understands what is needed from him and when to deliver. Perhaps his consistency is his finest attribute, as Gaucher has yet to go more than two games without a point and is winning close to 60 percent of his faceoffs. Gaucher is counted on in all situations, and being a physical center with skill and ideal size should make him a likely first-round target for multiple teams.

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Maveric Lamoureux, RHD
Drummondville Voltigeurs | 6’7, 196 | 1/13/04 | Shoots Right | Canada

Lamoureux is Mr. Everything on Drummondville’s blue line and can log over 30 minutes a game. He’s definitely known more for his defensive play and a good first pass, but Lamoureux — the 12th pick in the 2020 QMJHL draft — also reveals smart puck management and knowing when to jump plays in the neutral zone or stay back and firmly hold his line. Rarely out of position, Lamoureux uses his size and reach to his advantage and will blanket the low slot while battling opponents for the net front. His size definitely makes him a bit of a unicorn in this draft class, but Lamoureux usually lets his play both on and off the puck do most of the talking. His skating has improved since last year and he’s shown more agility and quickness when breaking out of the zone in a controlled or hurried manner. Offensively, Lamoureux is more meat and potatoes than flash or flair. He quickly delivers pucks and plays on the power play, but any type of shot he’ll attempt comes across as average; Lamoureux this season has taken only 41 shots in his first 31 games.

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Noah Warren, RHD
Gatineau Olympiques | 6’5, 214 | 7/15/04 | Shoots Right | Canada

Warren is a huge right-handed defenseman who can play either side of the blue line. He plays with an edge without committing penalties, but his defensive game is augmented by underlying puck skills that has helped him produce points in all situations. Warren has good vision, soft hands, and manages the puck reliably. He moves well for a big man but could stand to improve on his footwork, and occasionally he’ll force plays or skate himself into trouble.

Still, Warren is usually pretty clean with the majority of his decisions and has cut down on his mistakes as the season progressed. It’s understandable if evaluators are drooling over Warren’s potential simply because of his combination of size, skill, and smothering 1-on-1 defensive play. Warren during slot coverage will use his body to provide a clear path for his goalie to see incoming shots. Off the rush, he maintains a tight gap and is rarely caught out of position. If Warren can continue to simplify his game and become superior in one particular area rather than above average in several categories, the chances increase that he’ll get his name called in Round 1 on the first day of the draft.

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Angus Booth, LHD
Shawinigan Cataractes | 6’0, 177 | 4/27/04 | Shoots Left | Canada

Booth, a Montreal native, is a left-handed blueliner who regularly plays the right side. He is a smooth skater who can attack with speed and take the puck for a skate while displaying a high IQ. Booth rarely makes a poor or lazy decision, as he can process plays quickly and reveal plus puck skills to make the most of his opportunities in the offensive end. Booth generally plays a quietly effective game, which helped him ascend the Cataractes’ depth chart from the third pairing in 2021 to playing over 20 minutes a game after the trade of Anaheim Ducks prospect Tyson Hinds.

Booth is used in all situations, and his 20 assists (13 on the power play) in his first 31 games ranks him in the top 10 among QMJHL defensemen. But Booth, who was a fourth-round pick in the 2020 QMJHL draft, is a defenseman whose effective play should not be measured in points. He makes plays that do not appear in the stat sheet but still help the team win.

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Jérémy Langlois, LHD
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles | 6’0, 186 | 9/19/03 | Shoots Left | Canada

Langlois, the 17th pick in the 2019 QMJHL draft, is a dedicated performer who consistently stands out as an effective player. He is an offensive threat whenever he is on the ice, although he is far from a one-trick pony who selfishly abandons his defensive responsibilities. Langlois is an excellent skater in any direction, and he uses his speed and agility to breakout on his own. His quickness when combined with his superior vision help him escape trouble and break down a forecheck with ease. Being counted on to rush the puck and make plays from the blue line hasn’t hurt him or his team from a defensive standpoint. He currently leads all QMJHL first-year eligible defensemen in scoring with 22 points (four goals, 18 assists) in 30 games.

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Jake Furlong, LHD
Halifax Mooseheads | 6’1, 189 | 3/4/04 | Shoots Left | Canada

Furlong was the 22nd overall pick in the 2020 QMJHL draft and a prominent figure on Halifax’s blue line. He has played both the left and right side without any visible signs of discomfort. A slick puck handler who limits turnovers, Furlong can rush the puck into the offensive zone on his own, although his skating strengths lie more with balance, agility, and escapability than straight-line speed, a long stride, or explosiveness. Furlong can deliver crunching body checks when holding his line and he’s quick  enough on the backskate to keep his gap tight with effective stink-on-puck techniques.

The most noticeable aspect of Furlong’s game is his high hockey IQ. He may not produce enough points to consider him a potential star, but his ability to sense back pressure, step up in the neutral zone for interceptions, and handle the puck under pressure without turning it over indicates Furlong is clearly thinking and playing at the same time.

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Jordan Dumais, RW
Halifax Mooseheads | 5’8, 165 | 4/15/04 | Shoots Right | Canada

A quick and slick puck handler who leads all QMJHL first-year eligibles with 47 points (16 goals, 31 assists), Dumais is a multi-zone contributor who brings more to the table than simply being a point producer. He was the 18th overall pick in the 2020 QMJHL draft and last season produced a respectable 29 points in 40 games to finish among the QMJHL’s rookie scoring leaders. More of a playmaker than a shooter, Dumais is a low-maintenance option to generate offense, and he starts to make things happen by combining his above-average speed with a commendable compete level.

Dumais quickly replaced Robert Orr on Halifax’s top line and had instant chemistry with center Elliot Desnoyers and sniper Zach L’Heureaux to form the QMJHL’s most productive trios. He also is a power-play specialist, although 34 of his 47 points have come at even strength or while shorthanded.

Antonin Verreault, LW
Gatineau Olympiques | 5’8, 162 | 7/28/04 | Shoots Left | Canada

Try not to blink after Verreault hops over the boards, because you might miss this whirling dervish posterizing a defenseman in open ice. They say you can’t hit what you can’t catch, which is why Verreault’s lack of size becomes moot as he’s darting and exploding into openings with complete control of the puck. Verreault, the second overall pick in the 2020 QMJHL draft, is quick and relentless on the puck, causing havoc and turnovers by simply outhustling, outworking, and outthinking the opposition. He has a high hockey IQ and sharp vision to identify where his mates are and where he needs to place the puck.

Always thinking well ahead of a current situation, Verreault is able to bring his superior vision and passing skills to bear with decisive results. Although he is not a large player, Verreault is an inside attacker who does not shy away from the greasy areas and is willing to get his nose dirty against bigger opponents. His 26 points in 29 games may seem modest for such a highly-touted prospect, but consider Gatineau’s strong defensive play and improvement in the standings as examples of the hard-working Verreault making team success the priority over anything else.

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Markus Vidicek, C
Halifax Mooseheads| 5’9, 155 | 3/21/04 | Shoots Left | Canada

Vidicek is a competent two-way center who kills penalties and is capable of contributing no matter where he’s placed in the lineup.  His strong grasp of the position is evident in the way he’s used in all situations, but his positioning, anticipation off the puck, and coverage of the danger areas below his goal are also telling. Vidicek, who was selected 14th overall by Halifax in the 2020 QMJHL draft, is one of several Mooseheads who produces on the power play, as 13 of his 27 points have come during the man advantage. Not one to back down from a challenge, Vidicek will take the puck inside for an improved look at the net. He boasts deceptive wrist and snap shots, plus solid all-around playmaking skills. A strong skater with excellent balance and agility, Vidicek uses his quickness and soft hands to make ankle-breaking moves at top speed. Add a few inches to his height and Vidicek’s a potential first-round pick.

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Maxim Barbashev, LW
Moncton Wildcats | 6’0, 181 | 12/18/03 | Shoots Left | Russia

Barbashev as a late-2003 birth date is one of the older QMJHL draft prospects. He’s a lefty who can play either wing and is used on the power play, although his overall production to date (five goals and nine assists in 24 games) is underwhelming. The brother of St. Louis Blues’ forward Ivan Barbashev, Maxim plays a similar in-your-face style highlighted by physicality. Although the puck skills he brings while are mostly shooting related, and his speed is average, Barbashev’s aggressive nature and hard-charging effort on the forecheck is what usually makes him stand out in a given game. He may not be the quickest and won’t have too many  jaw-dropping highlights, but he’s still a desirable Swiss Army Knife kind of player that any team would welcome into the lineup.

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Jakub Hujer, C/W
Rouyn-Noranda Huskies | 6’30, 190 | 6/17/04 | Shoots Left | Czech Republic

Hujer was the 19th pick in last year’s CHL Import Draft and has not failed to impress in his opening season in North America. He was one of a few standouts for the Czech Republic at the under-18 2021 Ivan Hlinka tournament in August before carrying his strong play over to North America. Although his Huskies entered the league shutdown riding a lengthy losing streak which may have killed their playoff hopes, Hujer has been a consistent contributor regardless of the score, and he also looks comfortable playing center or either wing.

Used on both special teams and summoned for late-period stops or a clutch goal in the closing minutes, Hujer’s versatility is his calling card. It’s promising to see a big kid like Hujer possess good wheels, but he also knows how to use his frame to shield the puck. He’s generally a hard shooter who can be a one-timer option on the power play, but Hujer also distributes the puck accurately from the half wall and is willing to jam the net front for screens and deflections.

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Samuel Savoie, LW
Gatineau Olympiques | 5’10, 189 | 3/25/04 | Shoots Left | Canada

Savoie is quietly having a solid second season for Gatineau, albeit in only 29 games. Selected fourth overall in the 2020 QMJHL draft, the Moncton native can be considered a multi-tool player because of his physicality, strong skating, and timely plays that are tinged with creativity and smarts. It’s rare to see an entire shift where Savoie is not noticeable, be it via a hard hit, a scoring chance, agitating an opponent, or something subtle that likely gets left out of the box score. He’s a throwback with better-than-average skill.