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QMJHL Season Preview: Beware the Armada

Blainville-Boisbriand made the final last year and the team will be gunning again. We've got league power rankings and an NHL prospect to watch for every team

It is time, people. Major junior hockey is returning in earnest and the Quebec League is up first. Official regular season action kicks off on Thursday when Halifax travels to Saint John, so let's get down to brass tacks. Who will be the powers in the 'Q' and who will be rebuilding? It's going to be an interesting season. The Columbus Blue Jackets hold a great deal of sway, since they will determine where two of the best players in the league – Pierre-Luc Dubois and Vitaly Abramov – will play this season. In Halifax, the loss of Nico Hischier to New Jersey (I'm just assuming this happens) is offset by the arrival of Filip Zadina and the maturation of several other great 2018 prospects.

Below, you will find a power ranking of every team in the QMJHL, based off a survey I conducted of local experts. And for those of you who follow the NHL closer than major junior, I have included at least one player per team that has been drafted by an NHL franchise, or will be drafted in the future. Similar previews for the OHL and WHL are also coming this week. Enjoy!

1. Blainville-Boisbriand Armada – Veteran team will be the top threat, especially if Pierre-Luc Dubois returns from Columbus.

2. Victoriaville Tigres – Watch for Maxime Comtois (ANA) and Pascal Laberge (PHI) to rip into the league up front.

3. Halifax Mooseheads – The Herd’s 2018 draft crop is insane. Watch for steady D-man Jared McIsaac, two-way forward Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Czech wunderkind Filip Zadina for starters.

4. Acadie-Bathurst Titan – Anaheim second-rounder Antoine Morand brings lots of smarts and quickness back to the lineup.

5. Baie-Comeau Drakkar – Big D’Artagnan Joly (CGY) and crafty Ivan Chekhovich (SJ) will be counted on for offense again.

6. Sherbrooke Phoenix – Goalie Evan Fitzpatrick (STL) is going to carry the load once again.

7. Quebec Remparts – Swiss import Philipp Kurashev (2018) brought quickness and smarts over last year; look for him at the world juniors, too.

8. Cape Breton Screaming Eagles – Winnipeg Jets pick Leon Gawanke showed a lot of promise last year, while Drake Batherson (OTT) broke out.

9. Rimouski Oceanic – Dazzling Dmitry Zavgorodniy (2018) and top pick Alexis Lafreniere (2020) are going to be a lot of fun to watch.

10. Rouyn–Noranda Huskies – Steady defenseman Zachary Lauzon (PIT) will have to do some heavy lifting this year.

11. Moncton Wildcats – Recently acquired power forward Anderson MacDonald is a potential first-rounder in 2018.

12. Chicoutimi Sagueneens – Russian import German Rubtsov (PHI) made a great first impression; let’s see how high he can fly during a full season of action.

13. Saint John Sea Dogs – Center Joe Veleno is the top Canadian in the 2018 draft class; he’ll get help from Boston pick Cedric Pare up front.

14. Drummondville Voltigeurs – Pavel Koltygin (NAS) brings offense up front, while Ivan Hlinka gold medallist Olivier Rodrigue (2018 draft) is one to watch in net.

15. Shawinigan Cataractes – Look for offensive defenseman Samuel Girard (NAS) to put up (even more) impressive numbers this season.

16. Val-d’Or Foreurs – Blueliner David Noel (STL) bring a big-time shot from the point and the Foreurs are going to need it.

17. Gatineau Olympiques – If Vitaly Abramov (CBJ) returns, he’ll be one of the most dangerous weapons in the league (but probably gets traded before the deadline).

18. Charlottetown Islanders – The Isles may struggle, but it’s always fun watching puck-moving Arizona first-rounder Pierre-Olivier Joseph man the blueline.


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