Monday, January 24, 2011


This chart maps out where all 18 QMJHL franchises are currently located. The map was made after the 2007-2008 season and includes statistics on each city's total population and average attendance.
Rumors are swirling around the QMJHL regarding the future of 3 franchises potentially leaving their current cities. The teams in question are the Acadie Bathurst Titan, the Lewiston MAINEiacs and the P.E.I. Rocket.

Last week RDS reported the rumour about the PEI Rocket and a relocation to Sherbrooke, QC. Both Serge Savard SR. and JR have since denied the ownership group have any intention to relocate the team and stated their priority is to remain in Charlottetown, PEI. They're currently working with the city in order to renew the arena lease. The only obstacle I see in the team moving to Sherbrooke is the city's already dedicated fan base to the LNAH's Saint-Francois de Sherbrooke. But I'm sure with the right marketing group involved this challenge could be overcome.

The word "relocation" is nothing new for the Lewiston Maniacs who submitted their proposal to relocate to Boisbriand, QC, back in January of 2009. Because Boisbriand is located within the Montreal Juniors' territorial region, the Juniors were able to block the proposal. This time around, the rumour is Lewiston would relocate to Summerside, P.E.I.. If this were to happen, the P.E.I Rocket would almost surely be on the move because the Savards have already said they don't believe the province is prepared to support 2 QMJHL franchises. A huge downside of Lewiston packing their bags would be a loss of the American fan base. Those who follow the QMJHL and the MAINEiacs are die-hard hockey fans however it's been tough for the ownership group to grow this fan base even through extensive marketing exercises because of the harm that's been done over the past few years with their "we're leaving" and "we're staying" mixed messages.

The third, and most likely team to move is the Acadie Bathurst Titan. Attendance is miserable and there isn't much of a population to draw from to begin with. The city most likely to be on the receiving end of a move is St. John's, NFLD. That's right, St. John's. The same city that sold a franchise to Montreal only 3 year short years ago. So why go back to the rock? Well, the prospective ownership group has apparently come to terms with the city on a more affordable arrangement which would allow the team to be profitable this time around. The Mile One Center is a class A+ hockey arena and is a perfect rink for major junior tean. The only obstacle here remains travel costs and finding a solution for this would need to be part of the re-structured partnership between the owners, city and the league. I love the city of St. John's and the province of Newfoundland therefore I hope this rumor comes true.

As of now, all three teams have denied their intentions to pack up and leave their current markets. We'll follow the news on this and hope to know more in early February.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


Central Scouting's mid-season rankings has Xavier Ouellet
(#16) as the 39the best North American skater.
NHL Central Scouting released their mid-season rankings last week and 2 Montreal Juniors appeared on the list.

Defenseman Xavier Ouellet was ranked # 39 among North American skaters and right winger Alex Lemieux was ranked # 201.

Ouellet's high rank comes at no surprise. In only his second season with the Juniors Ouellet has exploded offensively with 5 goals, 27 assists for 32 points in 44 games. Although he's only 17 years old and Montreal's youngest defenseman, Ouellet usually plays on the team's 2nd defenseman pairing with 19 year old Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Charles Landry. The two have shared time on the power play this season as well. Ouellet currently sits 6th overall among defenseman point getters. And he's the only '93 born defenseman among the top 40 top scoring d-men.

Ouellet is participating at this week's CHL top prospect's game and skills competition in Toronto. He was assigned to team Bobby Orr therefore we can expect him to return even better than before!

Although Ouellet is ranked 39th among North American skaters, once the European skaters are considered, plus the goalies from both sides of the pond, we should expect Ouellet's overall ranking to land somewhere in the 50s or 60s. Compute that thinking into a 30 team draft and that means Ouellet will likely be drafted either towards the end of the second round or the start of the 3rd.

Could that change? Absolutely. If the Juniors win the QMJHL playoffs and compete in the Memorial Cup, you can bet his stock will go up. That's the added benefit of playing with a championship team. You're viewed as a player that can be a key piece to the championship puzzle.

Lemieux is ranked 201st among NA skaters. That's a tricky place to be. He'll need to pick up his game during the tail end of the season and the playoffs if he wants to be noticed more by the scouts. Again, if you consider the Europeans and goaltenders Lemieux's raking is probably closer to 250th overall. As a young depth forward on strong team, a deep playoff run may help Lemieux even more so than Ouellet.

Lemieux was acquired by the Juniors after having a "falling out" with his previous team, the Halifax Mooseheads. Lemieux started the season on a hot streak and scored 10 points in his first 13 games played. But in his next 26 games, including 5 with Montreal, he's only scored 1 point.

But lemieux brings a valuable element to the table....physical play. Although he's not the biggest player on the team, it sure doesn't show. I've only seen him play a handful of games in the Juniors uniform but I can tell you this; the guy doesn't back down from nobody. He hits everything that moves and is willing to drop the gloves with players who tower over him in height. If there was an NHL comparable I would compare him to Darcy Tucker.

From a league perspective it looks like a strong year for the Q. Six QMJHLers were ranked ahead of Ouellet and were all listed in the top 30 North American skaters list:

#2 Sean Couturier (Drummondville)
#4 Jonathan Huberdeau (Saint John)
#9 Nathan Beaulieau (Saint John)
#12 Zack Philipps (Saint John)
#23 Philip Danault (Victoriaville)
#24 Thomas Jurco (Saint John)

The top ranked North American goalie from the QMJHL was Christopher Gibson (Chicoutimi) at #2 overall.

Photo Credit: Ron Lemish


Saturday, January 15, 2011


Eliezer Sherbatov joined the Baie Comeau Drakkar after being
released by the Montreal Juniors.
It's official. Both Janos Hari and Eliezer Sherbatov are no longer part of the Montreal Juniors organization.

After the Juniors finished their trade deadline shopping spree (which was mainly paid on credit, aka draft picks) they were left with too many players on their roster and were forced to cut a few bodies. Reluctant to drop veterans and younger players born in '93 and '94, the Juniors elected to release Hari and Sherbatov.

This all happened just over a week ago and since then each player has joined a new team, giving themselves a chance to play more minutes which will surely benefit their personal development. Hari headed north west to join the league worst (18th overall) Rouyn Noranda Huskies, while Sherbatov heads north east to join the second worst ranked team in the league (17th overall), the Baie Comeau Drakkar.

Hari, an 18 year old left winger from Hungary, played 23 games with the Juniors this season. He scored 3 goals, 7 assists, was a +3, and recorded 11 penalty minutes.

Sherbatov, a 19 year old left winger from Laval, was struggling in his second season with the Juniors. This year Sherbatov was splitting time between the 4th line and being a healthy scratch. In 37 games he scored 3 goals, 6 assists, was a -9, and earned 17 penalty minutes.

His role with the team diminished vs. last season when he enjoyed more success and was often used on the team's 2nd and 3rd lines. In 62 games played last season Sherbatov scored 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points. In 7 playoff games he added 4 points.

Hari has yet to play a game with Rouyn Noranda but Sherbatov already recorded 1 goal and 1 assist in his first 4 games with Baie Comeau.

Good luck to both players.

Photo Credit: Ron Lemish


Wednesday, January 12, 2011


Pouliot is a 6`4``and 205 pound left winger.
He plays a sound defensive game and
adds both size and grit to the JRS lineup
After an action filled week fueled by the trade deadline there's lots of Montreal Juniors news to report. On Saturday the Val D'or Foreurs were in town and the Gatineau Olympiques visited on Sunday. Here's a quick review of my thoughts, news and notes:

The Juniors didn't make it easy for themselves with poor starts to each game:

The Foreurs scored 2 quick goals on their first 3 shots which led the Juniors coaching staff to pull J-F Berube from the game. Marcoux took over but that didn't prevent Val D'or from scoring 1 more quick goal allowing them to hold a 3-0 lead over Montreal only 10 minutes into the contest. All this to say....stopping pucks wasn't exactly the Juniors strong point this weekend.

Before the period ended Trevor Parkes was able to score back to back goals which brought Montreal straight back into the thick of things. The Juniors eventually ended up winning the game by a score of 6-4, included an empty netter. Although they won the game, you'd think they would have learned their lesson about slow starts. But no......

.....On Sunday Gatineau was in town. Berube was given the vote of confidence by Pascal Vincent and started between the pipes. But once again the Juniors found themself trailing 3-0 early in the game. Berube wasn't pulled this time and Montreal found a way to crawl back into the game during the 2nd period, much to the heroics of Francis Meilleur who assisted on the team's 2nd goal and scored the 3rd. But trying to play catch-up doesn't always work. Gatineau came back strong and added 2 more goals to beat the Juniors 5-3.

Montreal can't expect to be a championship team if they continue to start games so poorly. Against Val D'Or, a weaker team, they were down 3-0 and  managed to come back and win the game. Great. But against a stronger Gatineau team, the 3rd best team in the league (in my opinion), they weren't able to get away with such a brutal start.

It takes discepline to eliminate bad habits such as slow starts. Montreal better get serious and work on that if they want to be truely successful.

New faces in the Juniors lineup (Hertzberg, Pouliot, Lemieux and Beauchemin):

Viktor Hertzberg - The Swedish left winger lined up next to Louis Leblanc at center, as expected, and David Rose on right wing. He's a quick player and has excellent hockey sense. Leblanc and Hertzberg proved to find immediate chemistry as Hertzberg scored 2 goals in his first outing with the team. His heads up passing ability was also noticably impressive. Unfortunitly Hertzberg was hit from behind during the 3rd period and left with an undisclosed injury. The injury was significant enough to keep Herzberg out of the lineup vs. Gatineau the following day.

Raphael Pouliot - Montreal now has what they've been missing all season long: more size, more grit, and protection. Pouliot is a big left winger at 6'4" and 205 pounds. He lined up on the team's 3rd line and played well. He makes it a point to finish his checks without falling out of position. During a few scrums Pouliot was seen getting in the faces of his oponents who tried to mess with his teammates. And it was obvious they didn't want to mess with him. The best part about Pouliot is that he's NOT a goon. He's a big tough guy who plays solid defensivly and can chip in offensively ever now and then.

Alex Lemieux - How can I describe this guy. Hmmmm.....remember Samuel Grenache, he played for Montreal during the 2008-2009 season? Like Lemieux, Grenache was an average sized player but that didn't prevent him from hitting everything that moved and it surely didn't prevent him from fighting anyone on the ice, no matter what their size. My first impression of Lemieux is that he shares these instincts with Grenache. In his first two games with Montreal Lemieux handed out 3 or 4 rock solid hits and engaged in 1 fight. That fight, I will point out, was against ex-Juniors draftee 6'4" and 180 lbs Anthony Taylor. Lemieux will be a consistent 4th line energy player this season but could easily move up as high as the 2nd line next season. He's an 18 year old and has good skills to go along with his feisty side.

Jean-Laurence Beauchemin - He's a big defenseman that adds size to the Juniors blueline. Although not the most physical defenseman Beauchemin plays a sound game positionally and moves the puck fairly well. His big reach will help the Juniors defend especially on the penalty kill. Beauchemin is not very physical considering his size.

This weekend's three stars:

3rd star - C, Jeremy Gouchie (1G, 3A, +2): Gouchie held Gatineau leading scorer Devos to 1 assist.

2nd star - RW, Trevor Parkes (2G, 3A, +1): Parkes was clutch as usual scoring timely goals.

1st star - D, Francis Meilleur (1G, 4A, +2): The Juniors most intelligent player fueled his team's offensive production all weekend.

Up next this week:

Montreal heads west later this week, making stops in Rouyn Noranda on Thursday night followed by Val D`Or on Friday night.

Photo Credit: Ron Lemish


Friday, January 7, 2011


Hertzberg will likely have a chance
to play on the teams' number 1 line
with Leblanc & Chouinard
 On January 2nd HockeyPoints wrote about Montreal's needs heading into the QMJHL trade deadline (see link); TRADE DEADLINE - MONTREAL TO MAKE MOVES? Three key needs were identified as being the most crucial. Here's what they were and what Vincent did to address them;

1- Add an impact winger: Vincent addressed this need by adding Viktor Hertzberg who has 36 points through 31 games played.

2- Add goaltending depth: Vincent obviously felt comfortable with his current tandem and didn't feel the need to make any trades involving his goaltenders.

3- Add a fourth line energy player: Vincent addressed this need by trading for Raphael Pouliot, a 6'4" 205 pound winger. He has collected 70 penalty minutes this year and has 8 fighting majors.

Here's a summary of the Juniors trade activity:

1. Montreal acquired Raphael Lemieux from Shawinigan in exchange for a 2nd round pick in 2011 (Cap) + a 5th round pick in 2011 (Mtl).

2. Montreal acquired Jean-Laurence Beauchemin from PEI in exchange for a 5th round pick in 2011 (BaC).

3. Montreal acquired Alex Lemieux from Halifax in exchange for a 3rd round pick in 2012 (Mtl).

4. Montreal acquires Viktor Hertzberg from Cape Breton in exchange for Denis Kindl + a 2nd round pick in 2012 + a 1st round pick in 2013.

Here's a nerdy fact:

Hertzberg, Lemieux and Beauchemin each wore #27 with their former clubs. Montreal's scouts must have a preference for that number! Sherbatov wears #27 in Montreal.

Now let's turn our attention to the new-look roster which coach Pascal Vincent can tap into heading as the Juniors head into the playoffs. I've listed the line combinations that I'm expecting to see. Keep in mind the "X / extra" players will find themselves being substituted onto the 3rd and 4th lines and as the 5th and 6th defenders:

1 - Hertzberg (19) / Leblanc (19) / Chouinard (20)
2 - Lefebvre (19) / Gouchie (20) / Parkes (19)
3 - Fontaine (19) / Aubry (19) / Rose (19)
4 - Pouliot (19) / Anderson (19) / Laflamme (17)
X - Sherbatov (19), Lemieux (18), Hari (18), Clarke (17)

1 - Roussel (19) / Meilleur (20)
2 - Landry (19) / Ouellet (17)
3 - Provost (18) / Narbonne (18)
X - Micallef (18) / Beauchemin (19)

1 - Berube (19)
2 - Marcoux (17)



Viktor Hertzberg, 19, is an impact player
who was acquired by the Juniors today.
Hertzberg  a RW has registered 36 points
in 31 games played this season.

It was their most significant trade of the day.

The Montreal Juniors traded Czech born centerman Denis Kindl (18) along with a 1st round draft pick in 2013 and a 2nd round draft pick in 2012 to the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in exchange for star right winger Viktor Hertzberg.

With the addition of Hertzberg the Juniors gain yet another player who is capable of playing on the team's top line. Hertzberg is a proven scorer in the league having scored 15 goals and 36 points through 31 games so far this season.

Don't be surprised if Hertzberg (RW) is added to the Juniors top line with Louis Leblanc (C) and Nicolas Chouinard (RW - but will likely move to the left side). He will also be a welcomed addition to the 1st or 2nd powerplay unit.

Listed at 6'0" and 193 lbs, Hertzberg is a nifty player who skates smoothly and has slick hands.

Some people may accuse the Juniors of overpaying to make this deal however something tells me that one of Montreal's draft picks will be traded back to the Juniors during this June's draft in exchange for some other form of compensation. This, of course, would be yet another benefit to Montreal who will have an opportunity enter a deep playoff run with most of their cards in their hand.

As for Denis Kindl, Cape Breton are receiving an 18 year old who has been coming into his own as of late. Kindl has scored 10 points during his last 12 outings and is a +6 during that time.

A hidden benefit of this deal is that coach Vincent has solved the problem of being too deep at the centerman position and has bolstered his depth at the wing as needed. That means Louis-Marc Aubry can now move back to his natural position at center ice and will surely line up between David Rose and Philippe Fontaine on the team's 3rd line. The roster is more balanced than ever before.



The Juniors added more size, this time on the blue-line
position. Jean-Laurence Beauchemin is 6'4" and 197lbs.
With their 3rd trade before the deadline Montreal acquired 19 year old defenseman Jean-Laurence Beauchemin from the PEI Rocket in exchange for a 5th round pick at the 2011 draft.

The 5th round pick was acquired in a previous deal that originally belonged to Baie Comeau.

Similar to Pouliot, by adding Beauchemin the Juniors gain more size on their roster. He's listed at 6'4" and 197 pounds. Although not considered an enforcer by any means, Beauchemin can be counted on to play a sound defensive game and will add both stability and depth to Montreal's defense corps.

Through 38 games this season Beauchemin has 3 goals, 6 assists, is a +2 and has 20 penalty minutes.



Raphael Pouliot is a 19 year old left
winger with size standing at 6'4" and
205 lbs. 
In what was the Montreal Juniors' 2nd trade of the day, they acquired Raphael Pouliot from the Shawinigan Cataractes in exchange for a 2nd round draft pick in 2011.

At 6'4" and 205 pounds, Pouliot is a big guy and uses his size well, evidenced by his stats and specifically the penalty minutes he's earned so far this season. Pouliot has recorded 70 penalty minutes in 38 games this year including 8 fighting major.

Adding size and grit to the Juniors roster was clearly a priority for GM/coach Pascal Vincent since the start of the season and this move clearly addresses both needs. 

In terms of offensive production you shouldn't expect Pouliot to score at a point per game pace however he will chip in every now and then in order to add to the Juniors scoring depth.

Pouliot was a leader with Shawinigan and will surely bring that experience to Montreal.


Thursday, January 6, 2011


Alex Lemieux, an 18 year old right winger, has been
acquired by the Montreal Juniors.
It's official. Montreal Juniors GM Pascal Vincent has pulled the trigger on a trade.

Right winger Alex Lemieux, an 18 year old, was picked up from the Halifax Moosehead in exchange for a 3rd round pick in 2012.

Lemieux has scored 3 goals and added 8 assists through 34 games played this season.

He is listed at 5'11" and 194 lbs and has earned 69 penalty minutes so far this season.

Lemieux scored 10 of his 11 points during the first 13 games this season however since the Moosehead fired their coach, Lemieux has earned only 1 point in his last 21 games played. Lemieux wasn't willing to return to Halifax after the Christmas break and was subsequently placed on the trading block.

Yesterday there were three significant trades around the QMJHL:
  • Ex-Montreal Junior winger, P-A Dion (19), was dealt from Cape Breton to Drummondville in exchange for a 1st round draft pick in 2011. 
  • Eric Gelinas (19), one of the top defensemen in the league, was dealt from Chicoutimi to Saint John in exchange for defenseman Guillaume Cloutier (17).
  • Garrett Clarke was traded from Shawinigan to Bathurhst in exchange for a 1st round pick in 2013.
There are many more trade reports floating around....still waiting for official reports. More to come...

Wednesday, January 5, 2011


Are the Juniors comfortable entering
the playoffs with Marcoux as their
backup goalie? What if starting goalie
J-F Berube falls to injury? Marcoux
is solid but he's only 17 years old.

There's just under 24 hours remaining before the Q's trade deadline. This is how I see Montreal's lineup turning out, assuming everybody remains healthy (an open space indicates where I believe Montreal can best improve their team via trade):

Forwards (LW, C, RW):

1st Line: __________ / Leblanc / Chouinard
Ideally, the Juniors should add a top 6 quality forward (left winger) with size and grit to play with Leblanc & Chouinard on the team's top line. This allows Pascal Vincent to keep pieces of the 2nd, 3rd and 4th lines together since they have demonstrated chemistry over the past couple of months.

2nd Line: Lefebvre / Gouchie / Parkes
This trio has arguably been the Juniors' best line since the start of December however Lefebvre enjoyed more success while playing with Leblanc and Chouinard earlier this season. So a "cheaper" trade option may be to move Lefebvre back up to the first line and trade for a second line left winger to play with Gouchie & Parkes.

3rd line: Aubry / Kindl / Rose
Fontaine is normally the left winger on this line however if the Juniors trade for a player on the top 2 lines Aubry would likely be the one to get knocked down to the 3rd line (although Aubry is more effective playing center vs. left wing).

4th line: Fontaine / Anderson / Laflamme
If this line is formed it'll be my favorite line on the team. All three players are workhorses and could easily act as a 3rd line on the majority of Q teams.

Extra forwards: Hari, Clarke, Sherbatov
It's unfortunate; these three forwards may end up being victims of the numbers game. Hari and Clarke are two of the team’s youngest forwards while Sherbatov has struggled both offensively and defensively this season.

Another trade option is moving the left wingers (Lefebvre, Aubry and Fontaine) up one line each and trading for a depth left winger who can add value on the 4th line. This may be the most realistic of scenarios.


1st paring: Roussel & Meilleur

2nd pairing: Landry & Ouellet

3rd pairing: Provost, Narbonne and Micallef - Any combination of these three make up a very strong 3rd pairing. Don’t expect to see any additions at the defense position, Montreal strength.


#1: Berube

#2: Marcoux / _________ - Don’t be surprised if the Juniors trade for a more experience backup goalie. Imagine Berube goes down with an injury during the next 4 months. There’s no way Pascal Vincent will feel as confident entering the playoffs with Marcoux as his starter. He’s a solid goalie for a 17 year old, but not the guy you want starting between the pipes heading into the playoffs.

Looking forward to news over the next couple of days….

Photo Credit: Ron Lemish

Monday, January 3, 2011


Pascal Vincent (right) has 3 days left to make a trade.
The QMJHL's trade deadline is Jan. 6th at 11:59am. 
The clock is ticking for Montreal Juniors coach and general manager, Pascal Vincent, to make a trade before the league's trade deadline this Thursday, January 6th, at 11:59am ET.

The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League has seen 19 trades go through since December 13th, yet Montreal has yet to be part of any of them. And since the Juniors are one of the top contenders in the league, you can bet that they'll have their part in a trade or two before all is said and done. Which makes me wonder....what kind of deal does Pascal Vincent have in the works?

What's strange is that last year I was made aware of 3 deals the Juniors were preparing to make before they were made official. My sources shared information with me about the Jake Allen trade to Drummondville, the Alex Wall trade to Moncton and the Pierre-Antoine Dion deal to Cape Breton, all contending teams, before the trades were actually registered with the league officials.

Although this year is different. I haven't heard anything as being close to finalized.

If in fact there are a few deals in the works, the organization is being very quiet about it. While I know the franchise is making an effort to strengthen their team in preparation for a long playoff run, I haven't heard a peep in terms of trades that are expected to be announced.

But there's reason to believe that Pascal Vincent has a couple of deals in the works. If we learned anything from the past couple years it's that Pascale Vincent doesn't mind waiting until the last minute to make trades.

In 2009-2010 Vincent made 4 trades during the final 3 days the league's trade period.

And two years ago, during the 2008-2009 season, Vincent made 3 trades during the final 2 days before the deadline.

Conclusion: chances are Vincent has a few deals in the works and we'll likely hear of them in the next few days.

Here's my best guess as to what needs the Juniors will attempt to satisfy via trade:

1. An impact winger: As it stands today, Montreal's best two wingers are Trevor Parkes and Philippe Lefebvre. After that, 20 year old right winger Nicolas Chouinard is often seen as a lock on one of the team's top 2 lines. Right winger David Rose, currently the team's leading scorer with 38 points in 38 games played, normally plays on the team's 3rd line when everyone else is in the lineup is healthy. Point being, the Juniors could use another impact player who can play the wing on one of the top two lines, preferably a multi-dimensional player who brings both offense and a physical game to the table. Ideal acquisition: Philippe Paradis, PEI Rocket.

2. Goaltending depth: Nothing against Etienne Marcoux but it's never a bad idea to have a plan B (or C) at the goaltending position. After all, it only takes a slight groin injury for 19 year old Jean-Francois Berube before the Juniors' playoff pressure lands on the shoulders of 17 year old backup Etienne Marcoux. If that were to happen during the final round of the playoffs, I don't believe the Juniors would be very comfortable with that scenario. If Vincent opts to trade for another goaltender, look for him to acquire an inexpensive 19 year old who could step in if needed. Ideal acquisition: a goalie who can challenge or support Etienne Marcoux in the event that Berube goes down with an injury. Perhaps Mathieu Corbeil Theriault, Halifax Mooseheads or Philippe Tremblay, Rimouski Oceanic.

3. A fourth line energy player: A team can never have too much toughness or too many character players heading into a playoff run. Therefore you shouldn't be surprised if the Juniors try to pick up another forward who can play a physical role on the team's fourth line. If Vincent acquires a player like this it'll be someone who does all the small things it takes to win; finishing checks, blocking shots, killing penalties and being capable of dropping the gloves if necessary. Ideal acquisition: Alexandre Carrier, Val D'Or Foreurs.

Whatever the Juniors decide to do during this year's trade deadline, they better do all they can to improve their chances to win because it's not every year that Montreal will have such a strong chance to win it all.

Happy trading!

Photo Credit: Ron Lemish