Jonathan Diaby, Emile Poirier and Anthony Duclair have all been signed to their first professional contracts by their NHL clubs. The teenagers are each having successful seasons so far in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Duclair and Poirier are both (as of January 4th, 2014) in the top five of scoring and Diaby, despite missing the first half of the season due to injury, has picked up right where he left off after a respectable 2012-13 campaign. All three deals were the customary, three-year entry level contracts.
Jonathan Diaby – The Steamroller in Victoriaville
The 2013 off-season was a roller coaster ride for Jonathan Diaby. The Victoriaville Tigres’ defenseman had his highs – getting picked 64th overall by the Nashville Predators in the NHL Draft – and his lows – suffering a shoulder injury that knocked him out for 28 games to open up the season.
All of that is now behind him and the 6’5″, 240 pound giant is back to doing what he does best, aggravating opponents with his physically punishing defensive play, massive body checks and willingness to drop the gloves. The Predators clearly like what they’ve seen from Diaby, as they signed him after only appearing in eleven games this season.
The Blainville, Quebec native has shown a new aspect to his game, an offensive one. Diaby has steadily increased his point totals over his three QMJHL seasons, but this year the flood gates have opened. He is on pace to double his offensive output from last season, having played half as many games.
Emile Poirier – The Most Underrated Man in the World
(Exotic bongo music playing in background) He was drafted in the 1st round by the Calgary Flames. He once put up a hat-trick, just because he was bored. He’s parallel parked a train – oh wait, wrong guy. He has out-skated Sean Monahan. He is the most Underrated Man in the World.
Emile Poirier has been underestimated throughout his hockey career. Entering the 2011 QMJHL draft, he was not one of the big name prospects and was selected by the Gatineau Olympiques in the 3rd round. In his first season, the winger was not supposed to make much of an impact. He did the exact opposite, as he was one of the lone bright spots for the cellar-dwellers and was fourth in team scoring with 40 points.
Heading into the 2013 NHL draft, the Montreal-raised Poirier was once again underrated. The Hockey Writers final draft rankings had him going 42nd, International Scouting Services had him at 79th and NHL Central Scouting ranked him as the 39th North American Skater. But the Calgary Flames clearly thought higher of him, as they made him the 29th overall selection.
This season, Poirier is on pace to have a career year and is playing a major role in his team’s success. The only question that remains is, what could the most underrated man in the world do next?
The Speed Demon
Anthony Duclair is known by his Quebec Rempart teammates as the most electrifying player in the league. The winger has a skill set that can allow him to beat you so many different ways. He can drive to the inside and beat you with his physicality, he can go through you with a slick deke or he can step around you and fire a shot. Oh, I almost forgot his shot – the main reason he is second in the QMJHL in goal scoring.
At the start of last season, “Tony D” was slated to go in the early second round of the 2013 Entry Draft, some had him ranked as high as 15th. But going into the draft this past June, his stock had fallen and he ended up going to the New York Rangers, 80th overall in the third round.
The Pointe-Claire, Quebec native then set out to prove all 30 teams (including the Rangers) who passed him over they had made a big mistake. And prove them he did. A four-goal performance against the Charlottetown Islanders on October 26th is just one of many examples of Duclair stealing a game for the Remparts. Duclair will likely need another full season in junior and at least two in the AHL, but then the sky’s the limit and the Rangers have a real valuable asset on their hands.
Duclair, Diaby and Poirier are still a few years off from the big leagues, but all three show great potiential. These contracts are in the first steps into starting long NHL careers.