The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) had a pretty good looking regular season this year and they’re already half way through the first-round of the 2016 playoff series. The run for the President’s this year is showcasing three projected first-round NHL Draft prospects: Pierre-Lic Dubois of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, Julien Gauthier of the Val-d’Or Foreurs and Pascal Laberge of the Victoriaville Tigres.
2016 NHL Draft Prospect: Pascal Laberge
However, tonight Laberge could very well lose his place in the playoffs and out of these three, he’s the one who needs to keep his place the most. Throughout his tenure in the QMJHL, his +/- rating has always been poor. This season, it remained -3, which was the exact same the season before. He broke his left hand twice already this season and that’s why he only played in 56 games instead of 68. This playoff series was supposed to be his true moment to finally shine.
Victoriaville Tigres vs. Moncton Wildcats
Game 1, Friday, March 25: Lost 4-5 OT2
Game 2, Saturday, March 26: Lost 5-6 OT
Game 3, Tuesday, March 29: Lost 2-5
Playoff Series Game 4 Continues 4 Gauthier 4 Now
It’s interesting the way the playoff system works here because the first-place team went up against the 16th-place team, the second place team against the 15th place team and so on and so forth. So when it came to the Victoriaville Tigres who ranked fourth in the East Division, they went up against the Moncton Wildcats, who ranked second in the Maritimes Division. That being said, the Val-d’Or Foreurs are nearing the edge too, as they’ve lost Game 2 and 3 of the series so far.
Julien Gauthier 2016 NHL Draft Prospect Profile
The position Gauthier is in is a little bit different than his Tigre counterpart. He’s made a good amount of progress this year, as his +/- rating improved x4, but it really depends on what you’re looking for. Even though he had 14 more games played this season than he did last season, he got half as many assists. This could have something to do with his focus on developing his 200-foot game, which is something that industry experts were questioning over the 2015-16 season. Similar to Matt Schmalz of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves who’s also focused on developing his 200-foot game, his point performance has suffered as a result.
2016 NHL Draft Profile of Pierre-Luc Dubois
Dubois doesn’t have a whole lot to worry about at this point and neither does his team. Only losing one game of the series so far – the game Dubois was suspended from, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles should be feeling pretty confident about their 2016 playoff future. As for Dubois and his progress over the 2015-16 regular season, it’s been very impressive. His +/- rating improved x10 since last year and he also got double as many points this year too.
— ISS Hockey (@ISShockey) November 15, 2015
Tonight is Game 4 for each of these QMJHL teams and for Laberge, it may very well be his last chance to shine. For Gauthier, hopefully, all that hard work invested into his 200-foot game will start paying off before it’s too late and may the best man win.
I’m a Hockey Journalist based out of Barrie, Ontario, a Contributing Writer for The Hockey Writers covering OHL, and NHL prospects with an insatiable thirst for all things LA Kings, and PR gal for Abel Sports Management.