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Russia Jrs

QMJHL Weekly Highlights: For the week of 19 OCT 15

by Steve Kournianos
26 October 2015

ACADIE-BATHURST RW VLADIMIR KUZNETSOV (2016) exploded for four goals and an assist in three games to help the slumping Titan pick up three out of a possible six points. Selected first overall in the 2015 CHL Import Draft, the 6’2 power forward has points in each of his last five games (5-2-7, +4) and is tied for third among all QMJHL rookies with eight goals in 17 games. He’s a big winger who likes to park himself in front of the net and tends to win his battles for positioning. He’s also a very good skater with excellent balance and later movement who can quickly identify gaps or create them himself. A goal-scoring threat off the rush, Kuznetsov is beginning to figure out the North American game and his surge in production is a testament to that.
CHICOUTIMI LHD FREDERIC ALLARD (2016) produced points in seven of his last eight games, including two goals and an assist in the Sagueneens’ weekend sweep of Baie-Comeau by a combined score of 18-1. A two-way defensemen with excellent offensive instincts, Allard was one of 10 on Chicoutimi to register a multi-point game (1g, 1a) in Friday’s 12-1 annihilation of the host Drakkar. On Saturday, the 6’2 blueliner potted his fifth goal in the last eight games, which vaulted him into fifth in scoring (5-7-12) among QMJHL rearguards.
CHICOUTIMI ARTEM MALTSEV (2016) dished out three assists and was a plus-5 in two games against Baie-Comeau over the weekend. A 6’2 blueliner who hails from St. Petersburg, Russia, Maltsev was the first overall pick in the 2015 KHL Draft and the 70th overall pick in last summer’s CHL Import Draft. Maltsev has good size and strength, and can play a physical, shut-down game.
GATINEAU RW VITALII ABRAMOV (2016) broke a mini slump with a power play goal in the Olympiques’ 3-0 blanking of visiting Blainville-Boisbriand on Friday. Abramov, who entered the weekend as the QMJHL’s top rookie scorer despite not registering a point the previous weekend, is now second among first year players with 20 points (8g, 12a) in 15 games. The 5’9 winger opened the season with an eight-game point streak (5-10-15) but his goal on Friday was his only point in the last four. Abramov is lightning-quick and highly intelligent with the puck, and while he played the wing for most of the season, his playmaking abilities and hockey sense makes him a better fit at center.
HALIFAX C OTTO SOMPPI (2016) picked up a goal and two more assists in three games as the Mooseheads swept their two games with Moncton before closing out the weekend with a loss to Cape Breton. Somppi leads all rookies with 14 helpers and registered an assist in 10 of 17 games. The 6’1 Helsinki native is second in team scoring (3g, 14a, 17 pts) and won 52 percent of his faceoffs. He was given an “A” rating in NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary 2016 draft listing.
MONCTON C WILLIAM BOWER (2016) registered an assist in two of the three games over the weekend, giving him at least one point in six of his last eight games (1-5-6, +3). Bower was recently promoted to center the second line for the Wildcats, who rank second in the QMJHL in goal scoring with 73 in 17 games (+14 differential). Tied for eighth in team scoring (3g, 9a, 12 pts), he was Moncton’s sixth round pick (101st overall) in the 2013 QMJHL Entry Draft. A very crafty playmaker who works hard every shift, Bower likely tops out as a support player, but a versatile one nonetheless.
QUEBEC C/LW MATTHEW BOUCHER (2016) continued his torrid pace with five points in two games to help the Remparts earn a weekend sweep over rival Rimouski. The 5’9 Los Angeles native wasted little time pacing Quebec to a 5-2 win on Friday, assisting on the game’s first two goals before scoring the eventual game winner on the power play – all before the midway point of the opening period. On Saturday, he helped set up C Massimo Carozza’s game-winner early in the second before sealing a 4-1 triumph with an empty netter. A highly-skilled agitator who likes to play physical and has very good speed, Boucher (son of former NHL defenseman Philippe Boucher) has bounced between centering the second line and playing wing on the Remparts’ top line. He leads Quebec in scoring with 20 points (7g, 13a) in 16 games, and is 92-84 (52.3%) on faceoffs. He wasn’t rated by CSB on their preliminary list, but he’s a legitimate candidate for a midseason ranking.
RIMOUSKI C NICOLAS WERBIK (2016) registered a point in each of the Oceanic’s weekend losses to Quebec. The 112th overall pick in the 2015 CHL Import Draft, Werbik helped Rimouski get on the scoreboard with an assist on a goal by LW Samuel Laberge in Friday’s 5-2 defeat. On Sunday, the 6’2, 190-pound native of the Czech Republic opened the scoring with his second goal of the season thanks to a solid wrist shot. He can be considered a power forward because he’s got the tenacity to match the size and strength, but he can also be used in a two-way role to pressure or wear down defenders off the cycle.
SAINT JOHN RHD LUKE GREEN (2016) picked up a pair of assists in three games, giving him seven points (2g, 5a) over his last nine games. The 6’1, 186-pound blueliner returned from a three-game suspension on Thursday for delivering a head shot in a game the previous week. Green, who was given a “B” by Central Scouting in the preliminary ratings, has been manning Saint John’s top power play unit and switching between the second and third defense pairing. At this stage, he’s a one-dimensional puck-moving rearguard with excellent skating and playmaking ability. The Sea Dogs made Green the top overall pick in the 2014 QMJHL Entry Draft.
SHAWINIGAN G ANTOINE SAMUEL (2016) stopped 28 of 31 shots, including 13 in the final period, to lead the Cataractes to a 4-3 triumph over host Victoriaville on Sunday. Samuel, who was blitzed for 13 goals against in his previous three starts and pulled in the first period of last week’s loss to Drummondville, rebounded with a solid effort to improve to 5-1-0 on the season. The 6’2, 184-pound Quebec native is also undefeated in three games where he faced 30 or more shots.
SHERBROOKE G EVAN FITZPATRICK (2016) rebounded from a personal five-game losing streak with back-to-back wins over Drummondville– each with 30 saves or more. Rated a “B” prospect by the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau, Fitzpatrick made 30 stops on Friday to help the Phoenix escape with on 5-3 triumph over the visiting Voltigeurs. Two days later, he backstopped Sherbrooke to a 7-3 win with a 36-save performance in which it led 4-3 after 40 minutes despite being outshot by a 31-11 margin. The 6’4 Newfoundland native has faced the most shots in the league (471) and is second in minutes (814:07).
SHERBROOKE C/LW KEVIN GILBERT (2016) tallied his first goal in the QMJHL in Sunday’s win over Drummondville. A sixth-round pick (106th overall) in the 2014 QMJHL Draft, Gilbert missed all of last season with a concussion on a hit from former Victoriaville goon Julien Proulx during last season’s training camp. He’s an undersized pivot (5’9/160) relegated to a depth role but has been serviceable filling in during offensive-zone situations.
VAL-D’OR RW JULIEN GAUTHIER (2016) bounced back from a brief outage with back-to-back two-goal efforts during a weekend series with Rouyn-Noranda, giving him 12 markers in just 16 games. The 6’4 power forward had scored only one goal in eight games from the start of October until he scored on October 18th at Blainville-Boisbriand. Since then, he’s added four more goals – three on the power play — and an assist. The dip in production could have been a byproduct of a nasty (and illegal) hit he took on October 2nd from Chicoutimi undrafted RHD Julien Carignan-Labbe, who was suspended for seven games.
VICTORIAVILLE C PASCAL LABERGE (2016) set up a goal in each of his two contests this weekend, increasing his season total to 12 helpers in 15 games. Laberge, who was selected second overall by Gatineau in the 2014 QMJHL Entry Draft, is tied for third in the league power play assists (8). At 6’1, Laberge has pretty good size but is slight of frame (160 pounds). He’s an excellent skater at this stage of his development, but his IQ and vision are what separate him from most first-year draft eligibles. He’s also improving on his draws, operating at a respectable 51.1%.