The Quebec League kicks off tonight and this year looks like a three-way race at the top. Based on the survey I did, featuring journalists who cover the circuit, Shawinigan, Saint John and returning champs Rouyn-Noranda are the cream of the crop, with parity entering after that. Here’s a power ranking for the ‘Q’ with an NHL prospect or two from each team thrown in for good measure.
1. Shawinigan – Anthony Beauvillier (NYI) is back up front, as is smooth Samuel Girard (NAS) on the back end.
2. Saint John – Deep roster includes boisterous right winger Mathieu Joseph (TB) and defenseman Luke Green (WPG).
3. Rouyn-Noranda – Returning champs boast Jeremy Lauzon (BOS) on ‘D’ and J-C Beaudin (COL) at center, among others.
4. Victoriaville – Maxime Comtois is the top 2017 draft prospect out of the ‘Q,’ while center Pascal Laberge (PHI) brings talent and feistiness.
5. Charlottetown – Big Filip Chlapik (OTT) patrols up front, while the steady Guillaume Brisebois (VAN) anchors the defense corps.
6. Gatineau – Another season of Vitaly Abramov (CBJ)? Yes, please. Nicolas Meloche (COL) handles the blueline.
7. Blainville-Boisbriand – Jeremy Roy (SJ) will be a leader on the blueline, but expectations are high for Antoine Crete-Belzile (2017) as well.
8. Acadie-Bathurst – Antoine Morand (2017) is a big-time producer who can dish and finish thanks to his dynamic skill set.
9. Chicoutimi – Look for Nicolas Roy (CAR) to dominate at center, while Frederic Allard (NAS) contributes from the blueline.
10. Val-d’Or – How many goals will Julien Gauthier (CAR) score this year? And what can Adam Marsh (DET) bring to the table?
11. Rimouski –Simon Bourque (MTL) brings a lot of tools back to the blueline and contributes at both ends of the ice.
12. Halifax – Nico Hischier (2017) of Switzerland is the latest import who comes with a lot of offensive promise. He joins Otto Somppi (TB).
13. Sherbrooke – Evan Fitzpatrick (STL) will be busy in goal once again, but he’s up to the task.
14. Cape Breton – Vasily Glotov (BUF) will bring a big dose of skill and fun; especially if Pierre-Luc Dubois doesn’t come back from Columbus.
15. Drummondville – Pavel Koltygin (2017) comes over from Russia and brings both strength and skill up front.
16. Moncton – Two-way winger Manuel Wiederer (SJ) returns, as does overage goalie Keven Bouchard (EDM)
17. Quebec – Callum Booth (CAR) will be the big man in net for a rebuilding Remparts squad.
18. Baie-Comeau – Matteo Pietroniero (2017) is a prospect to watch on defense and comes from a big hockey family.