Saturday, July 31, 2010


JUST OUT - Louis Leblanc will be playing major junior hockey next season.

Leblanc decided to end his playing days at Harvard and make the transition to the QMJHL playing for the Montreal Juniors.

This is a fantastic move for both Leblanc's career and the Montreal Junior franchise.

More to follow...

Thursday, July 29, 2010


The Juniors are heading into their third season with a strong leadership core. GM Pascal Vincent announced that he'll be selecting team captain Nicolas Chouinard, 2009-2010 leading point getter Jeremy Gouchie (seen in photo) and newly acquired offensive defenseman, Francis Meilleur, to fill the team's three 20 year old positions next season.

During the past two seasons Montreal has experienced two very different groups of overage players. Here's a look back at the past two years of the 20 year old Montreal Juniors and the impact they had on the team.

In 2008-2009 the Juniors enjoyed the services left winger Nick Layton, right winger Matt Fillier and defenseman Pat O'Keef.

Layton led the team in scoring with 29 goals and 79 points in 68 games played.

Fillier served as team captain and was viewed as one of leagues most feared hitters and fighters, collecting 18 goals, 38 points and 91 PIMS in 61 games played.

O'Keef filled a top four role on the blue liner and brought a feisty side to his game. His production was decent with 4 goals, 23 points and 69 PIMS earned in 68 games played.

Last season the Juniors' 20 year old players weren't as strong. The group was led by left winger Matthew Brenton plus defensemen David Stich and Huebert Genest. This group didn't have the same impact on the team's success as the year prior.

Brenton enjoyed a strong year offensively scoring 14 goals and 47 points in 66 games played. He was led the team on the ice with a tireless workethic and never took a shift off in his own zone.

After being acquired by Saint John early in the year, Stich provided Montreal with a much needed physical preasence and proved to be the team's best all around defenseman throught the course of the year. Despite having a cannon of a shot, strangely, Stich was rarely used on the 1st power play unit however he still managed to contribute offensively with 6 goals, 23 points and 85 PIMS in 47 games played.

Both Brenton and Stich earned positive plus/minus ratings (plus 7 and plus 12 respectively).

Genest, didn't bring much aside from his huge yet under productive wound up slap shot. He was grossly inconsistent and finished the season with mediocre offensive output 5 goals, 24 points in 66 games plaved. Ginest finished the season a -5.....not so hot for a 20 year old.

Related posts: OVER AGE PLAYERS - WHO TO KEEP (May 17th):

Saturday, July 24, 2010


The Montreal Juniors have extended the contract of general manager and head coach Pascal Vincent until the end of the 2012-2013 season.

With over 350 career victories behind the bench in the Q and at only 39 years old Vincent is well connected around the league and respected by his players.

At times last year it was frustrating watching the Juniors and I was starting to question Vincent's preference for player-types on his rosters, mainly due to the lack of size at the forward position.

At one point last season it seemed like every second Montreal forward was listed under 5'10". Eliezer Sherbatov at 5'7", Loik Poudrier and Matthew Brenton at 5'8" and David Rose at 5'9" accounted for 4 of Montreal's 9 forwards on the top 3 lines. While that's a large number of vertically challenged players on any team, it still doesn't consider Nicolas Choinard at 5'10", Jeremy Gouchie and Guillaume Asselin at 5'11".

While I don't have anything against smaller players, I believe in a having a diversified group of forwards. Last year just seemed a bit too much on the small side.

To Vincent's credit he seems to have addressed the size issue during the off-season. Poudrier and Asselin were dealt while Brenton has retired from Junior hockey. Vincent filled these holes with the likes of 26 goal scorer Philippe Lefebvre and, if he plays, Canadiens prospect Louis Leblanc. Both players are listed at 6'0" respectively.

One of the areas in which Vincent has excelled is making moves as he has proven to be capable of pulling off major deals. Vincent acquired the rights to Angelo Esposito in 2008 and both Charles-Olivier Roussel and Louis Leblanc in 2010. Flipping Luke Adam to Cape Breton in exchange for Nicolas Choinard and a 1st round pick in 2009 (Xavier Ouellet) wasn't too bad of a deal either. Transferring the asset value of Jake Allen in 2009 into Philippe Lefebvre and Charles Landry for the 2010 season was another smart deal.

The true test for Vincent will be to convince Louis Leblanc to play for the Juniors next season. If he's able to do that we'll improve his GM rating from a B+ to A-.

Monday, July 5, 2010


Trevor Parkes has been invited to attend Detroit's camp this summer.

The Red Wings scouts must have spent some time at the Verdun Auditorium last season because Parkes becomes the second Montreal Junior player to be recruited by the Wings this summer. Just 10 days ago Louis-Marc Aubry was drafted by Detroit during the 3rd round of the 2010 NHL entry draft.

Parkes was ranked 197th overall by the North American NHL draft rankings but was not selected during the seven round NHL entry draft. Some believed Parkes was overlooked because he's a late bloomer. As an 18 year old junior aged player, last season was Parkes' first playing at the major junior level.

Since the NHL/NHLPA Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) was revamped in 2005, the NHL draft was reduced from 9 rounds (270 drafted players) to 7 rounds (210 drafted players). As a result, teams have used this route to invite additional prospects to their development camps. Should the invitee be deemed a valuable prospect, that player is then offered a contract by the NHL franchise. If the player is not offered a contract, any of the 29 remaining NHL teams may sign the player.

When a player is drafted, the team owns the rights to the player without having to offer the player a contract until after the following periods where the player's progress and development can be evaluated:
- major junior players: 2 years
- US college players: 4 years

Friday, July 2, 2010


Saturday June 26th turned out to be a good one Montreal Juniors centerman Louis-Marc Aubry. During day 2 of the NHL entry draft in LA, the Detroit Red Wings used their 3rd round draft pick (81st overall) to select Aubry.

Detroit must have liked what they saw in Aubry because they drafted him ahead of his North American draft ranking (87th overall), a list which doesn't include players who played in Europe last season.

Although Aubry is capable of playing as a second line player in the Q, the ceiling of his potential in the NHL would be centering a 3rd line. While Aubry may not be the most talented forward on the Juniors, nobody can deny his disciplined work ethic and strong two-way game. Combine that with his size (6'4" and 186 lbs), which he uses to his advantage, and you have a player with the potential to make the NHL as a solid 2 way checking line forward.

Watching Aubry during the past two seasons I've been most impressed with the attention he pays to the details of the game. It's a rare sight to see him out of breath because he is religious about playing 45 minute shifts. He steps on the ice, works hard for 40-50 seconds, then heads back to the bench, skating as hard to it as he did when he left it.

Getting drafted by the Red Wings should be viewed as a complement for Aubry. Over the years the Wings have proven their ability to identify quality NHL talent, even in the later rounds of the draft (most notably; Pavel Datsyuk - 171st overall in 1998, Henrik Zetterberg - 210th in 1999, Valtteri Filppula - 95th in 2002 and Johan Franzen 97th in 2004). Detroit identifies players they believe are able to buy into their system, a system that puts the team first.

The only downside in being drafted by the Red Wings is, unlike the Montreal Canadiens, they don't rush their prospects on to the big club which can sometimes result in prospects going stale.

Aubry's development over the next couple of years will probably be; 1 or 2 more year of Junior Hockey. Then 2-3 years in the AHL before getting a chance to make his NHL debut.


Unlike Aubry, Trevor Parkes was a dissapointed young man as he wasn't selected during the NHL entry draft. I realize he's a '91 born player (most drafted players were born in '92) and has only played one season of major junior hockey, but I was shocked to see Parkes get overlooked, especially when a player like Cedrick Hanley (Val D'Or forward) gets drafted in the 6th round......terrible.

Parkes was Montreal's most dominent player during the playoffs this spring which followed a strong performance during the season. He has a great shot and quick hands, plus he works like a dog.

The only weakness I've noticed in Parkes game would be his skating. However, while he may not be the prettiest skater, he is an effective skater and I wouldn't say it has a negative effect on his performance.

It'll be interesting to see whether or not an NHL team extends an offer to Parkes to attend their training camp this summer, something often done when quality players such as Parkes are passed over in the draft. Ex-Montreal Junior defenseman David Stich was invited to camps by Chicago, Dallas and New York Rangers during the past three summers. Another example would be recently acquired forward Philippe Lefebvre who was signed by the Montreal Canadiens last summer.