2023 NHL Draft

2023 NHL Draft: QMJHL Prospects

Danny McGillicuddy   |  9/19/2022

Tyler Peddle of the Drummondville Voltigeurs totaled 35 points in 65 games as a rookie. He began the season on fire, hit a scoring drought, finishing up with a steady pace. He has all the tools to be a top pick in the 2023 Entry Draft. Peddle checks in at 6 foot 1 and 185 pounds. Although he is listed as a left-wing on Drummondville’s roster, Peddle primarily played center. The lefty pivot displayed a keen sense of the position. He’s smart, decisive, handles the puck well, and has excellent hands. Tyler possesses a quick, accurate shot, accelerates quickly to break down a forecheck, and uses his linemates well. Peddle will go to the dirty areas, compete for pucks, is strong on his skates, and not easily knocked off the puck. Adding a bit more physicality to his game will increase his draft stock.

Two more Drummondville players, Matteo Rotondi and Marc-Olivier Beaudry will anchor the defense this upcoming season. Both are 6 feet tall and both are lefty. Beaudry is 172 pounds and Rotondi is 180 pounds.

Rotondi is a smooth skater with offensive upside. He is smart and calculates when to jump into the rush, rarely exposing his team to an odd-man rush. He is poised under pressure and does not make a panic play. His gap control and one on one play are solid. Matteo is physical in all facets of the game. He is not a bone-crunching hitter, but hits with a purpose. He does not run out of position to make a hit. Rotondi is smart, allowing the play to develop and come to him. He uses his brain, footwork, and puck skills to find shooting and passing lanes in the offensive zone. With his rookie year behind him, Matteo’s size, mobility, skillset, and experience should garner some attention from NHL scouts.

Beaudry is an excellent puck mover and defender. He is steady, not flashy, rarely out of position, processes the game quickly, and plays the position with the savviness of a veteran. He has the intangibles not found on a stat sheet. Marc is a hockey player, period. He plays a team game, is strong in all 3 zones, keeps the play in front of him, and makes the game look easy. Although it appears effortless, Marc’s high hockey IQ permits him to anticipate plays, putting him in a position to make a play without expending energy. His reads are fantastic and his ability to control the play should have scouts eyeing him this season.

Matteo Mann plays for the Chicoutimi Saguenéens, is a behemoth individual. Checking in at 6’5” and 225 pounds, the righty rearguard is more than a large individual. Mann saw 20 games as a rookie in the 2020-2021 season and 63 games this past season. His second season saw a comfortable, assertive defenseman playing a steady, simple game. Offense is not Matteo’s meal ticket. However, his overall game makes up for his lack of production. He moves well for a big man and made huge strides in his second season. Mann is strong in his defensive responsibilities, difficult to beat one on one, and for the most part, poised under pressure. Matteo is not flashy, makes strong zone exit passes, and plays a simple game. He improved his skating and puck handling, and the game slowed down for him. If he continues this positive trajectory, gains confidence in himself, taps into his offensive abilities, and adds a bit of snarl to his game, he’ll hear his name called in June 2023.

Mann’s teammate, Andrei Loshko fared well in his rookie season. The Chicoutimi website has two different spellings for his first name, Andrey on the roster list and Andrei on his profile page. As of now, the lefty center is listed on the preseason roster and does not appear to be a casualty of the Russia/ Ukraine War.  Andrei is listed at 6 feet 1 inch tall and only 157 pounds but looks bigger than his listed weight. This kid is dynamic. His greatest asset is his shot, it is lethal. He can rip a one-timer from anywhere, picks corners with a snapshot, and has one of the quickest releases in the game. More than a perimeter player, Loshko will go to the tough areas to score goals. Situations do not affect him as he is a threat in the slot, on the flank, or on the rush. Andrei is creative, confident with the puck, controls pace, and hurts opponents with his deft passing. Loshko is light on his skates, has quick feet, and is athletic. He is smart, has tremendous vision, and once he adds some weight, he’ll be a force this upcoming season.

Halifax Moosehead pivot, Mathieu Cataford, started slowly and finished strong. The 5’11” 183 pound righty plays bigger than his listed dimensions. He looks much taller and plays a skilled, physical game. There is not one single skill or attribute that stands out in Cataford’s game. As the season progressed, the game slowed down for him, and the points accumulated. He has a knack for finding the soft areas in the offensive zone without placing himself in poor defensive position. Mathieu has a quick, accurate release combined with soft hands when deflecting shots. He uses his frame to shield opponents and body them off the puck. Cataford has a presence to his game that is not measured in statistics alone. He plays a simple, effective game, and does not attempt the wow factor plays. This season, he should see an increase in ice time and responsibilities, which will drastically improve his draft stock.

Dylan MacKinnon plays defense for the Mooseheads and plays it well. Sound defensively, great elusiveness, vision, and adept with exit zone passes. He is 6 feet tall and 185 pounds, is a right-handed shot, and plays both sides of the defensive pair. Excellent skater, physical and has a fantastic shot. His point totals are a poor reflection of his overall game. Dylan is in the mold of NYI defenseman, Ryan Pulock. Not flashy, moves well, and has offensive upside but does not allow it to negate his defensive game. He takes care of the neutral and defensive zones first. Mackinnon found himself gobbling minutes against the opposing team’s top forwards, and more than held his own. A rookie playing his off-side did not wilt under the pressure. He plays a calm, confident game, using his size to his advantage. He hits with a purpose and does not go out of position to make a booming hit. A pleasure to watch Dylan play the position in all three zones.

Do not allow the size of the Shawinigan Cataractes’, Jordan Tourigny fool you. This kid may be small, 5’9” and 149 pounds, but he is an excellent defenseman. Jordan’s offensive wizardry should not detract from his defensive game. He excels in all three zones. Tourigny is a righty and plays both sides. His skating, smarts, and anticipation are his most effective attributes. Jordan’s edgework and footwork allow him to defeat the forecheck. Once he maneuvers from the attack, he either skates the puck on the rush or dishes to a forward to spring the breakout. Although Shawinigan has Mavrick Bourque and Xavier Bourgault up front, Tourigny is the powerplay quarterback. His vision and deceptiveness along with the BB boys leads to a lethal powerplay. Defensively, Tourigny is more than adequate. He uses his body to get underneath people, placing himself between the puck and the man he is covering. If he finds himself behind his man, he uses a timely stick lift to thwart a scoring chance. Size should not be a deterrent for his draft position because Jordan thrives in all facets of the game.

A new addition to the Cataractes is former Moosehead, Vincent Gauthier. He is a right-handed shot, plays right wing, and checks in at 6 feet, and 193 pounds. Gauthier appeared in only 39 games and showed glimpses of becoming a solid player. Vincent has a solid, thick build, and is difficult to move from the trenches and in puck battles. He has soft hands allowing him to deflect pucks and place himself in the high danger scoring areas.  Although it is a small number of games played, along with limited minutes, Gauthier totaled 9 points and displayed a knack to become an offensive threat. It may be a dart throw to include him in this list but his skillset is untapped. Vincent skates well, and is not a burner, but gets to the correct places at the right time. Gauthier is sound defensively and can be counted on in close game situations. Offensively, defensively, and skating are phases players thrive under the Shawinigan tutelage. Perhaps the new surroundings and coaching staff will allow Gauthier to unleash his offensive game and hear his name called in the 2023 Draft.

Ethan Gauthier excelled as a rookie on a strong Sherbrooke Phoenix squad. The 5’11”, 173-pound right winger potted 18 goals in 65 games and added 21 assists. The right wing is savvy and adept at finding the open holes in the offensive zone. Armed with a quick, accurate, and hard shot, Ethan wastes no time when the puck hits his stick. Shooting is not his only forte. Gauthier can dish with the best of them and has a penchant for getting under the opponent’s skin. He skates well, is smart, skilled, and an agitator. Ethan does not shy away from the physical aspect of the game. He welcomes contact, often initiating it, and makes life miserable for goaltenders as he parks himself on top of the crease. Gauthier displays quick bursts with and without the puck and is a dog on a bone on the forecheck. Ethan is more than adequate defensively and excellent in the neutral zone. He lures opponents into a false sense of security and then pounces with his quickness to create a turnover. Gauthier will be a quick riser in the 2023 Draft as he is poised to prosper in the QMJHL this year.

A set it and forget it player sums up Cam Squires. The righty center for the Cape Breton Eagles is sound in all phases of the game. He is not flashy, just a meat and potatoes player with skill. The 5’10”, 150-pound Squires tallied 34 points in 64 games on a terrible Eagles team. His plus/minus of -40 can be thrown out the window. The Eagles were the worst team in the Q, but Squires was a bright light during the dark season. Cam began the season with a pedestrian scoring pace and found his way as the season progressed. Cam plays bigger than his listed measurements, moves well, and plays a cerebral game. He does not overhandle the puck and knows when to dish it and shoot it. He has a quick, accurate release and feathers passes with ease. Squires is a good-to-decent skater, who gets up and down the ice and is continuously involved in the play. It is difficult to assess his defensive play due to the collective mess of a team that yielded 36 shots against per game, and the entire roster was void of a plus player. Heck, they did not have anyone who was even. Another year under his belt should garner attention for Squires, and he should hear his name called in the later rounds of the entry draft.

Baie-Comeau Drakkar center, Vincent Collard, is an enticing player. He has size, skill, speed, and smarts to be a draft-ranking riser by season’s end. He is 6’2” and 189 pounds, shoots righty, plays an aggressive style, and is not a joy to play against. He owns soft hands with a deft touch as he can roof the puck from tight areas. Collard is physical in that he uses his frame to protect the puck, making him difficult to defend against. Vincent’s defensive awareness is solid. He treats that part of the game with respect and is not one of those who leaves the zone in order to pad his stats. The Drakkar were a young team last year and Vincent gained valuable ice time. This season he should be counted on in all situations, his ice time should increase, and his overall game should pop.

Collard’s teammate and linemate, Maël Lavigne, is another young gun up front for the Drakkar.  Maël is a big kid, standing at 6’3” and 175 pounds. He is left-handed, listed as a center, but plays wing when he is on a line with Collard. Lavigne has terrific hands, soft for feathering passes and a hard, quick, release. His shot is accurate and he is strong on the wall. Maël has a high motor, does not quit on a play, and uses his large frame to his advantage. He will mash people, gain control of the puck, and dish it in one motion. Lavigne needs to improve his skating. He is strong on his skates but lacking in speed and quickness. Once his skating catches up to the rest of his game, Maël should rise up the draft board ranks.

Another member of the Drakkar is left-handed, left-wing, Nathan Baril. He is listed at 5’08” and 166 pounds but looks and plays bigger. He has a thick lower body which contributes to his ability to shed checkers in tight areas. Nathan is smart, always moving to find the open space. He gets his shot off quickly and is consistently around the high-danger areas. Baril’s strong lower body and quick feet enable him to quickly accelerate and change direction without losing speed. In puck battles, he is a fierce competitor and a dog on a bone. His defensive zone play is difficult to assess because the Drakkar were abysmal in that department. He is engaged in the D-zone which is the most important aspect. This kid is a fireplug and can make game-changing plays with his feet, hands, and high IQ.

Sam Bowness is a left-wing on the Charlottetown Islanders. He is 6 feet tall and 177 pounds and plays a no-nonsense style. The Islanders iced a veteran-heavy roster leaving Sam with limited opportunities. His stats do not justify his effective play. Sam was used on the 3rd and 4th lines in an energy role. He is smart, physical, aggressive, has decent skill, and plays with ill intentions. Sam’s best attribute is his compete level. Combined with his size he is a forechecking force, creating turnovers in the offensive zone. Sam has some skills to accompany his meat and potatoes style. He will not wow anyone with dangles, but is an above-average passer, and has a quick, accurate shot. Sam cracked the lineup as a 17-year-old because he can be counted on defensively. Having earned the trust of his coach, he can now focus on his offensive game heading into the 2022-23 season.

Mathis Aguilar is a big, left-handed shooting defenseman on the Rimouski Oceanic. The 6’03” 200-pound rearguard began last season with Charlottetown and was dealt to the Oceanic at the trade deadline. The trade was a blessing for Aguilar because the Islanders had a veteran-laden defense corps, making it difficult to find steady ice time. Mathis is a mobile, smooth skating, puck mover, excelling at finding seams for outlet passes. He appeared relaxed once he was a member of Rimouski. He settled into a steady rotation instead of limited minutes. Mathis’ confidence grew and his game improved. He is solid in all facets and would benefit by adding some snarl to his game. He plays both sides, defends well, has excellent reads, and is rarely caught up ice. Mathis should spearhead a relatively young defense group this season for the Oceanic. More minutes and greater responsibility will have scouts looking his way come draft day.

Nathan Drapeau is a coach’s dream. He is a set-it-and-forget-it defenseman. The lefthanded rearguard plays the position with an old-school attitude and modern skill. Nathan is 5’11” and 185 pounds and packs a wallop. A ferocious hitter, who does so under control. His gap control is fabulous. Nathan reads the play and thwarts any semblance of an attack. He is a steady defenseman with solid first-pass skills to break out of the zone. Drapeau keeps the game simple and plays under control. End-to-end rushes are not his forte, but that does not mean he is not a quality defenseman. He has command of playing defense without being an offensive anchor. Nathan is the type of player that completes a defensive pair. He can be used in all close game situations, including the penalty kill. Drapeau needs slight improvement in his skating and footwork. He warrants a good look come draft day 2023.

Acadie Bathurst Titan have three guys who should appear on the prospect radar. The Titan relied on veterans, leaving Noah Ryan, Cam Henderson, and Joseph Henneberry with minimal playing time. All 3 should see a boost in ice time, increasing their chances for productive seasons.

Limited ice time did not prevent Noah Ryan from making his presence felt. Standing at 6 feet tall and 178 pounds the lefty winger appeared in 52 regular season games, made the most of his minutes, and was noticeable on the ice. Noah’s greatest asset is his compete level. He does not give up on any play and has the skill to finish plays. Primarily in a bottom 6 role, Ryan brought speed, energy, and physicality to the game. This season he should be logging more ice time and his production should improve. Noah has the physical and mental attributes to become a solid player. He is responsible with his defensive game and contributes in more ways than what is seen on a stat sheet.

Cam Henderson only appeared in 20 regular season games. He was visible in limited action, agitating with his physical nature. He is solidly built at 5’10 and 201 pounds and uses it whenever possible. Cam shoots lefty and is listed as a center. He plays with an edge and appears to relish that role. Henderson skates well, understands his role, and plays a team game. Opponents need to be aware of Cam’s presence. He has the smarts and skill set to become more of a factor this season. Cam is the type of player found on winning teams. He may not be a top 6 forward but he is a glue guy, playing with grit and skill.

Joseph Henneberry had an excellent rookie season. The lefty forward checks in at 6’2 and 183 pounds. In 68 games he potted 14 goals and added 15 helpers. Henneberry’s speed is deceptive as he gobbles up ice with his effortless stride. He is smart, knowing where and when to exploit openings in the offensive zone. Joseph has great hands and vision to accompany his high hockey IQ. He uses his large frame to his advantage, warding off opponents, pushing them off the puck, boxing opponents from the high-scoring areas, and one on one battles. Henneberry should expect more responsibilities this season and catch the attention of NHL scouts.

Miles Meuller, a Swiss import, is a left-handed, left winger for the Moncton Wildcats. He stands at 5’10 and 172 pounds and brings a ton of energy to the game. Miles is relentless on the forecheck, an excellent penalty killer, and brings a hard hat mentality to the lineup. Meuller is a team-first player, seamlessly fitting on any line he is assigned. Although he was a minus 16, it is not an indictment of his play because Miles is excellent in the defensive zone. Miles has good hands and a quick release, is responsible with the puck, and rarely makes high-risk decisions. Meuller is solid in all aspects of the game and a boost in production will help his upcoming draft status.

Thomas Auger is another forward on the Wildcats. He is fun to watch, another high-energy player with grit. The righty is listed as a right-wing, at 5’07” and 150 pounds, and is a rocket on skates.. Thomas showed a lot of promise last year and a willingness to get his nose dirty. He’s often found in the trenches in the offensive zone. Speed and quickness define Auger’s game. His edgework and shiftiness allow him to be effective in tight areas and explode away from defenders. Small in nature but big in courage and effort, Auger is noticeable on every shift. Thomas has above average puck skills to accompany his strong skating. He uses his speed to push defenders back to open shooting and passing lanes. Auger will beat you with his legs, head, skill, and competitiveness. If Auger was a few inches taller, he would be discussed more for the upcoming draft. He must overcome the size disadvantage to prove the doubters wrong.

Etienne Morin anchors the Wildcat defense. He shoots lefty, plays both sides on defense. Checking in at 5’11 and 180 pounds, Etienne is an offensively skilled defenseman who defends well. He quarterbacks the powerplay, is smart, shifty, and embraces the physical aspect of the game. Morin has excellent edge work and elusiveness that allows him to shed opponents, especially along the offensive zone blue line. His quick, hard shot, combined with his quickness makes him a multifaceted threat. Defenders know this and do not press him. The time and space afforded to Morin allow his creativity to shine as he wields his magic. Etienne is more than a one-trick pony. His gap control, neutral zone reads, and anticipation are evident in the neutral zone. Etienne uses everything in his arsenal to defend. He is physical when the play warrants physicality. Morin leans on opponents, battles hard, and makes his foe earn every inch of ice. Etienne Morin can do it all for the Wildcats. He breaks down a forecheck with his skating or an outlet pass, thwarts neutral zone rushes, defends at a high level, and is competitive in all three zones.