Friday, March 26, 2010


The Montreal Juniors will be looking to land a knock out punch on the Gatineau Olympiques tonight at the Verdun Auditorium.

The Juniors have played stellar hockey during the first four games of the series outscoring their opposition 14-9. A huge piece to that equation has been #19, right winger Trevor Parkes.

Parkes is making a good case for himself to get drafted by an NHL team this June. With 5 goals in 4 games played, he's delivering under the pressure of the playoffs. Furthermore, his play without the puck in all three zones has been impressive, allowing him to earn a plus/minus rating of +2. Throughout the season Parkes was listed at 6'1 and 180lbs but appears to have grown. He's throwing his body around without putting himself out of position and has become one of the Juniors' more physical players.

After the mid-term 2010 NHL draft ranking were released Parkes was ranked as the 206th best skater in North America, behind teammates Louis-Marc Aubry (ranked 89th) and Guillaume Asselin (ranked 191st). If Parkes continues to play the way he has, watch for him to move up in the rankings. He should easily drop under the 180 mark and may even slip into the top 150.

Keep an eye on this guy.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


While teams in the National Hockey League compete for the game's ultimate prize, the Stanley Cup, franchises in the Canadian Hockey League compete for a chance to play in the annual Memorial Cup Tournament. But to earn a spot in the tournament a team first need to win their own league's playoff title. For QMJHL teams this means hoisting the President Cup.

The 2010 QMJHL playoffs start this Thursday and I've made my predictions as to which team will win each series:

Saint John Sea Dogs (1st overall) vs. P.E.I. Rocket (8th overall):
The Sea Dogs should out play the Rocket in every aspect of the game. P.E.I. was a "seller" at the trade deadline and, to make matters worse, they traded their goalie Marco Cousineau to the Sea Dogs! Cousineau won the President Cup as a member of Drummondville last year and will be looking to repeat.
Prediction: Saint John wins in 5 games.

Drummondville Voltigeurs (2nd overall) vs. Lewiston MAINEiacs (16th overall):
Perhaps the most lopsided match up of the first round, expect the Volts to walk all over the MAINEiacs. Drummondville goaltender Jake Allen shouldn't receive too many shots against but will close the door when necessary. Voltigeur forwards Chris Didomenico, Gabriel Dumont and Sean Couturier (the Q's leading point scorer this season) will dominate offensively.
Prediction: Drummondville wins in 4 games.

Moncton Wildcats (3rd overall) vs. Cape Breton Screaming Eagles (7th overall):
This should be the best series of the first round, by far. Both the Cats & Eagles were major "buyers" at the trade deadline this year. Both teams are stacked with plenty of fire power up front. Each team boast one of the strongest goaltenders in the league (Roy in the Cape and Riopel in Moncton). The difference maker in this series may be the stronger defence corps of Moncton led by their Top 10 ranked 2010 NHL draft prospect Brandon Gormley). But who knows, maybe the Eagles, who are a better physical team, will be able to wear down the Wildcats? Either way, it'll be a war.
Prediction: Moncton wins in 6 games.

Victoriaville Tigres (4th overall) vs. Shawinigan Cataractes (10th overall):
The Tigres have incredible offensive depth and boast a lineup that includes 7 NHL affiliated players. This depth will likely be too much for the Cataractes who are not as prepared for a deep playoff run as they were last season (lost in game 7 to Drummondville in the finals). Victoriaville finished the season with a goal differential of +105 while Shawinigan was -23. Any more questions?
Prediction: Victoriaville wins in 5 games.

Quebec Remparts (5th overall) vs. Acadie-Bathurst Titan (14th overall):
Quebec GM Patrik Roy didn't make a push at the trade deadline to improve his team, and strangely, he didn't really become a "seller" either. Having said that, the Remparts remain the favorite to win this series. Led by a couple of intense forwards speedster Ryan Bourque (son of Ray Bourque & NYR draft pick) and power forward Danick Paquette (ATL draft pick), the Remparts have the right guys leading the way in order to get the job done.
Prediction: Quebec wins in 5 games.

Rouyn Noranda Huskies (6th overall) vs. Val D'Or Foreurs (15th overall):
If Patrice Cormier didn't receive a "rest of year" suspension Rouyn Noranda may have been my favorite team to win the Presidents Cup. While they probably won't win the Cup they should still be able to defeat Val D'Or with ease. This is a bulky team with plenty of skill up front led by Jordan Caron (BOS draft pick) and Phillippe Cornet (EDM draft pick). The team's biggest strength lies in the back end. The Huskies defense corps can stack up with any team in the league and are backed by goaltender Nicholas Champion, who has been riding a hot streak since the beginning of March. Val D'Or may steal a couple of games but in the end Rouyn Noranda should prevail.
Prediction: Rouyn Noranda wins in 6 games.

Rimouski Oceanic (9th overall) vs. Chicoutimi Sagueneens (13th overall):
Both of these teams are filled with young talent and are bound to be two of the best teams in the league two years from now. It'll be interesting to watch how the young players on each team respond to their first playoff series and it could really go either way. Rimouski's offence should be the deciding factor.
Prediction: Rimouski in 7 games.

Montreal Juniors (11th overall) vs. Gatineau Olympiques (12th overall):
I originally said that Montreal would win the series in 6 games and I'm sticking to it (even considering the Stich suspension). The Olympiques' biggest asset is goaltender Maxime Clermont. If the Juniors can get pucks past him early it'll be easier for them to win. The Juniors must also rely on playing well defensively paired with maintaining a well balanced attack with contribution from all three scoring lines.
Prediction: Juniors win in 6 games.

Enjoy Round One!!!



The playoff schedule has been released. The Montreal Juniors will face their division rival, the Gatineau Olympic, during the first round of the 2010 QMJHL playoffs.

Montreal finished 11th overall in the QMJHL standings with 69 points. Gatineau was right on Montreal's heals, finishing 12th overall with 65 points. The two are playing each other because the first round features divisional match ups. Montreal has earned home ice advantage.

Here's the schedule:

Game #1 (in Montreal): Friday March 19th @ 7:35pm
Game #2 (in Montreal): Saturday March 20th @ 7:35pm
Game #3 (in Gatineau): Monday March 22nd @ 7:30pm
Game #4 (in Gatineau): Wednesday March 24th @ 7:30pm
Game #5 (in Montreal): Friday March 26th @ 7:35pm (if required)
Game #6 (in Gatineau): Saturday March 27th @ 7:00pm (if required)
Game #7 (in Montreal): Tuesday March 30th @ 7:35pm (if required)
Do yourself a favour. Buy a ticket and go to these games. Junior playoff hockey awesome.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


The Montreal Juniors will start the playoffs without their best all-around defenseman. David Stich (seen in photo) was suspended for a total 6 games, including the first 3 games of the playoffs, for hitting a player from behind in a game against the Lewiston Maniacs last week.

Losing Stich is a devastating loss. The Czech born defender is the team's 2nd oldest player, one of three "overage" 20 year olds on the roster. Without Stich in the lineup the team will need to rely on their young defensemen. Aside from veterans like Genest (20) and Bourgeois (19), the Juniors will be forced to give a lot of ice time to younger defensemen like Belanger (17), Narbonne (17), Provost (17) Ouellet (16) and Donnelly (16), all five of whom are rookies in the "Q" this year making it a very inexperienced defense corps to rely on.

So just how big a loss is losing David Stich? Well, having captained Czech Republic's Junior National Team at the 2009 World Junior Hockey Championships (in Ottawa), Stich brings that "big game" experience factor to the Juniors' blue line. Not yet convinced? Furthermore he's one of the few players on the Juniors roster with NHL related experience after being invited to pro camps during each of the past three summers, all on a tryout basis (Dallas in 2007, NY Rangers in 2008 and Chicago in 2009). Point is, the guy brings an competitive edge to the team.

At 6 foot 2 and 215 pounds Stich is the team's biggest defenseman. He uses his size well in front of the net and punishes opposing forwards along the boards. Stich finished the season with 6 goals, 17 assists and 23 points in 47 GP while accumulating 85 penalty minutes. He is second best on the team with a plus/minus rating of +12.

So who steps up for the Juniors in Stich's absence? Answer: Hubert Genest and Xavier Ouellet. Look for these guys to log some big time minutes, perhaps even 25 minutes each per game. Genest (20) played 28 playoff games during the last two season as a member of the Quebec Remparts and will be counted on to handle pressure. As for Ouellet (16), I think this will be his coming out party. He has played some extraordinary hockey over the past 4 weeks and that should only continue given this opportunity. We all know how good this kid will be over the next three seasons and should get a preview of that during this series.

Oh ya, and one more thing....who will replace Stich's toughness on the back end? Answer: Dillon Donnelly (16). If you haven't seen this kid's game you better get ready for it because it's built for the playoffs. Last Sunday Donnelly went toe to toe with Royun Noranda tough guy and New Jersey Devil draft pick Jean-Sebastien Berube. The outcome of the fight was a draw, but it's rare that you see a 16 year old kid hang in there with a 19 year old vet.

Originally I predicted that Montreal would beat Gatineau in six games. Here's to hoping the loss of David Stich doesn't push the series to seven!

Saturday, March 6, 2010


It's official. Montreal will face the Gatineau Olympics (currently ranked 12th overall in the "Q" - seen in photo) during the first round of the 2010 QMJHL Playoffs.

This will likely be a favourable match up for the Juniors. I'd put my money on the Juniors provided that the Olympics' goalie, Maxime Clermont (ranked high for the 2010 NHL draft), doesn't steal too many games.

Both teams were "sellers" at the trade deadline however the Olympics' current depth won't compensate for those moves as well as the Juniors'. The teams faced off last Thursday night and Montreal clearly outplayed Gatineau. The seemingly close 2-1 final was mainly due to the outstanding play of Clermont. My prediction: Montreal wins in 6 games.

Should the Juniors beat the Olympics they would probably face the Saint John Sea Dogs in the second round of the playoffs (Saint John are currently ranked 1st overall in the "Q" and 2nd overall among the CHL's 60 teams). While Montreal would be considered the heavy underdog, keep in mind that they're the only team in the "Q" who have beat the Sea Dogs twice this season. Having said that, I'd put my bias aside and predict: Saint John wins in 5 games.


Montreal made three significant moves at the trade deadline this year, all positioning the team better for next season;

1. Jake Allen (seen in photo), the number 1 ranked goalie in the QMJHL and the CHL was traded to the Drummondville Voltigeurs in exchange for DRU's 1st round draft pick in 2010 and DRU's 1st round draft pick in 2011.

Note: It is rumoured that both picks will be traded back to DRU at the 2010 QMJHL entry draft in exchange for two 19 year old players (one of which may be property of the Montreal Canadiens, LW Philppe Lefebvre - 20 goals and 47 points in 60 GP this insight as to who that second player may be). This type of transaction is common in the "Q" as it allows the "buying" team to go on a playoff run without trading any assets until after their run is over.

2. Alex Wall, the Juniors' best defenseman, was traded to the Moncton Wildcats (who are my pick to win the QMJHL title this year) in exchange for 16 year old defenseman Dillon Donnelly and the rights to Val D'Or's 1st round CHL import draft pick in 2010.

Donnelly looks pretty solid for a 16 year old defenseman and should be a great asset to have alongside Xavier Ouellet (also 16 years old) on the blue line for the next 3 seasons. While Ouellet's game brings an offensive threat from the blue line, Donnelly provides a strong two-way game filled with toughness.

In short, Donnelly alone seems to be a solid return for Wall. Should the Juniors hit a home run at the import draft (I believe Val D'Or's pick will be among the top 10) and convince their top European draft pick to join the team next season, this trade will look huge!

3. Pierre-Antoine Dion, arguably the Juniors' best power forward, was traded to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in exchange for Patrick Lapostelle and a 2nd round pick in 2011.

Note: The 2nd round pick in 2011, like the DRU picks in 2010, is rumoured to be traded back to the Eagles at the 2010 QMJHL entry draft in exchange for an "overaged" insight as to who this player may be). Meanwhile, Lapostelle brings size and energy to the Juniors' 4th line.

In summary, the Juniors were "sellers" this season and were able to remain fairly competitive for the upcoming playoffs. The true return for their trades will be seen next season when the Juniors will be considered a top 5 team in the QMJHL.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


The Juniors were ranked 16 / 18 in the "Q" by The Hockey News heading into the 2009-2010 season. The low-ball ranking was mainly a result of the Juniors loosing 6 or 7 key veteran players. This opened the door for the Juniors to give their younger players a chance to take on greater roles.

That building process has not been as painful as some may have thought. Veterans forwards, Matt Brenton, Jeremy Gouchie and Captain Nicolas Choinard have each averaged just below a point per game throughout most of the season and form a stable number 1 scoring line. The team's scoring depth is well spread with 18 year olds Trevor Parkes (RW, 26 goals, 16 assists in 62 GP), Louis-Marc Aubry (C, 15 goals, 18 assists in 62 GP) and Montreal native Eliezer Sherbatov (LW, 12 goals, 18 assists in 58 GP) each stepping up to help spread out the scoring responsibility. Guillaume Asselin (RW, 19 goals, 21 assists in 62 GP - seen in photo) has produced more than last year and is still only 17 years old. As of today, the Juniors top three lines are as follows:

(LW / C / RW)
1st line: Brenton / Gouchie / Choinard
2nd line: Thorne / Aubry / Asselin
3rd line: Sherbatov / Rose / Parkes

With a young core of defensemen the Juniors have kept things simple and it's a rare sight when the opposition has a 3-on-1 or 2-on-1 break. Since Jake Allen was traded to Drumondville back in early January, LA Kings' draft pick Jean-Francois Berube has been stellar between the pipes. The Juniors currently have the 6th best goals against average in the league.

As of today Montreal ranks 2nd in their division and 11th overall with a record of 30-27-2-5.....which is on pace to finish with a record very close to that of last season. Montreal was a "seller" during the trade deadline this year and are positioned to face off against Gatineau (also a "seller" at the trade deadline) in the first round of the playoffs.


During the summer of 2009, the Montreal Juniors' roster underwent some major changes. Some players moved on to new leagues, while others were sent packing in trades.

In terms of players moving on, both Angelo Esposito and T.J. Brennan advanced their respective careers to the professional hockey level (both are currently playing in the AHL).

Meanwhile leading scorer Nick Layton, team Captain Matt Fillier and veteran defenseman Pat O'Keefe all became too old for Junior hockey and decided to play in the Canadian University Hockey League.

The team made two significant off-season trades. Luke Adam, who is currently top 10 in league scoring, was traded to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in exchange for the Juniors' current captain, RW Nicolas Choinard (seen in photo) and a 1st round pick in the 2009 QMJHL entry draft (defenseman Xavier Ouellet).

Then, Montreal traded their skilled Russian defenseman, Dimitri Kostromitin, to the Rouyn Noranda Huskies in exchange for a 6th round pick at the 2009 draft. The move was made in an effort to free up a EURO roster spot which ended up backfiring.

After these significant changes were made, the Juniors looked much younger and their strengths remained between the pipes with their two drafted players (Jake Allen - STL & Jean-Francois Berube - LAK).


For those of you who didn’t follow the Montreal Juniors last season, this blog entry should provide you with a brief summary of the 2008-2009 season, the club’s first in Montreal after the franchise played three seasons in St. John's Newfoundland as the expansion Fog Devils.

The Hockey News Magazine ranked the Montreal Juniors 6 / 18 going into the 2008-2009 season. The team was stocked with QMJHL star players like forwards Angelo Esposito (ATL - seen in photo), Luke Adam (BUF), Captain Matt Fillier (LAK), defenseman T.J. Brennan (BUF) and goaltender Jake Allen (STL), but was also invested with solid young yet inexperienced players like Guillaume Asselin, Louis-Marc Aubry and Jean-Francois Berube (LAK).

The team flirted with a .500 record for most of the season and team chemistry seemed to be a bit of an issue. After the January trade deadline, both Esposito and Adam suffered season-ending injuries and the Juniors' focus became building for the 2009-2010 season.

Montreal finished 2nd in their division and 8th overall with a record of 34-30-2-2. In round 1 of the playoffs, Montreal beat the Rouyn Noranda Huskies in a tough fought 6 game series. In round 2 the Juniors were swept by the eventual QMJHL Cup Champions, the Drummondville Voltigeurs.

Year one was considered as a successful return of QMJHL hockey to Montreal, a city where the Montreal Canadiens remain the hottest ticket in town while other sport clubs fight for attention. In terms of attendance, the team built a solid foundation of season ticket holders and game sales averaged 3,100 fans per game. The Verdun Auditorium which has a legal capacity of 3,700.