It was quite the banner year for the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League at the 2013 NHL Draft, when 31 players from the league were chosen, the most since 2005, when the draft was cut to seven rounds.
It marked the highest total since 2003, when 38 players were selected from the league over nine rounds, including goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles, who was selected by the Pittsburgh Penguins with the first pick.
While the prospect pool for the 2014 draft at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia might not be as prolific as it was in 2013, when two of the first three players picked were from the QMJHL, there is one player earning plenty of attention.
Hard-nosed forward Ivan Barbashev of the Moncton Wildcats was NHL Central Scouting's lone "A"-rated prospect on its preliminary list of players to watch in the QMJHL. Born in Moscow, Russia, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound left wing is in his second season with the Wildcats. He has six goals and 14 points in 10 games for the team this season, and had a hat trick in a 5-2 win against Acadie-Bathurst on Oct. 3.
"The biggest part of his game is that he competes hard," NHL Central Scouting's Troy Dumville told NHL.com. "Last year he played wing and later made the adjustment to center, so he's a pretty adaptable kid with good hockey sense. He does a lot of the little things. His defensive-zone coverage was really impressive."
As a rookie in 2012-13, Barbashev had 18 goals, 62 points and a plus-9 rating in 68 games. Dumville noted that Barbashev has become more physically involved in the early portions of this season.
"He definitely can play that physical game and he's got good size," he said. "He'll fill out and develop into a good-sized player, but it's early. He'll definitely be one of the most skilled guys on his team and in the league. I don't see him playing that physical game night in and night out, but at the same time he's capable of it."
A SWEDE SENSATION
Swedish right wing Anton Karlsson likely will represent his country at the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden, in December.
For one thing, he's one of the hardest workers for Frolunda's team in Sweden's under-20 league this season, and has six goals, 12 points and 18 penalty minutes in 10 games. NHL Network analyst Craig Button raved about Karlsson's leadership ability.
He captained Sweden to a gold medal at the 2013 Under-17 World Hockey Championship with six goals and nine points in six games. He also was named one of the top three players for his team while serving as assistant captain at the 2013 IIHF World Under-18 Championship in Sochi, Russia, where he had for two goals and four points in five games.
Karlsson (6-foot-1.25, 187 pounds) is a player scouts and general managers will certainly be keeping a close eye on heading into the 2014 NHL Draft.
"He has scored more points than expected and has been a positive surprise so far," NHL Director of European Scouting Goran Stubb told NHL.com. "He's a physical player and effective on the forecheck. He works real hard and finishes his checks well. I'll be looking forward to seeing him again on Sweden's under-18 team in Finland in November."
CENTER FOR THE SOO
Jared McCann of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds had extra motivation entering his second season in the Ontario Hockey League.
After posting an impressive 21 goals and 44 point in 64 regular-season games as a rookie in 2012-13, and tied Sam Bennett of the Kingston Frontenacs finished tied in voting for the center position on the 2013 OHL All-Rookie second team. But he sustained a concussion in the team's opening game of the OHL playoffs against the Owen Sound Attack and was sidelined for the final five games of a six-game series loss.
He showed he was healthy this summer when he moved from his natural center spot to left wing for the Memorial of Ivan Hlinka Tournament in August, and had one goal in five games as Canada won the gold medal. And he started the 2013-14 season with an "A" rating on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list for OHL players for the 2014 NHL Draft.
"He's started the season with an excellent goal-scoring pace and is around the puck and finishing scoring chances with regularity," Central Scouting's Chris Edwards told NHL.com. "He's playing with great energy that often comes from getting success early on. He has an excellent wrist shot, has shown great hands and play-making ability, and is an excellent skater with very good acceleration and speed."
McCann currently is 10th in scoring in the OHL with 11 points (seven goals).
In his final season of midget hockey in 2011-12, McCann had 61 goals and 131 points in 67 games for the London Jr. Knights. The Stratford, Ontario, native also sported an eye-popping plus-131 rating and was selected by the Greyhounds with the fourth pick of the 2012 OHL priority selection draft.
"He came into the league last year and really showed that he was able to adapt very quickly," Button told NHL.com. "There's not any situation of the game that forces him out of the lineup, no matter if you want to play physical or a tight-checking game."
POTENTIAL PICKS IN COLLEGIATE OPENER
Look for goalie Thatcher Demko of Boston College and forwards Evan Allen and Alex Kile of the University of Michigan to play significant roles as freshmen for their respective teams this season.
All three were on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list for the top NCAA players. Demko, one of only two players at his position to receive an "A" rating on the players to watch list, could earn his first collegiate start on home ice Sunday against Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
The Eagles open the 2013-14 season against Michigan on Thursday in an anticipated clash at Yost Ice Arena in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Born Dec. 8, 1995, Demko (6-3, 192) is the youngest player in college hockey. He entered the season knowing that junior holdovers Brian Billett and Brad Barone would be given an equal shake at earning big minutes between the pipes for coach Jerry York. NHL.com's Adam Kimelman recently wrote about Demko's rise to stardom in net [www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=683220].
Boston College and Michigan are two of nine college teams with at least 10 freshmen on the roster this season.
For Michigan, Allen and Kile are regarded as "C"-rated skaters on Central Scouting's release.
Allen (5-11, 200) had 23 goals and 25 assists in 67 games with the United States National Team Development Program's under-18 team last season. Part of that included six goals and 16 points in 26 games against United States Hockey League competition. He also helped the U.S. win the silver medal at the 2013 IIHF World Under-18 Championship.
"He's an undersized winger but strong enough to handle himself playing an energy-style game," NHL Director of Central Scouting Dan Marr told NHL.com. "He's a competitive player with effective skating and skills to make things happen. He flies under the radar, but finds ways to contribute."
Kile (5-11.25, 190) had 30 goals and 30 assists in 56 games with the Green Bay Gamblers of the USHL last season.
"He's got speed, skills and smarts; always capable of being a scoring threat," Marr said. "He needs to bring consistency to get noticed by scouts but has put in a good summer of training and could be poised to have a breakout year."
PROSPECTS ON THE RISE
1. Adrian Kempe, Modo Jr. (Sweden): An "A"-rated prospect on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list in Sweden, Kempe has a goal and two points in four games while serving as an alternate captain for the Modo's team in the Swedish under-20 league. His Canadian Hockey League rights belong to the Barrie Colts of the OHL, who selected him in the second round (No. 107) of the 2013 CHL import draft.
NHL Network analyst Craig Button said that the 6-foot-1.5, 187-pound left-handed shooter "has all the elements necessary to becoming a really strong NHL player."
2. Mark Friedman, Waterloo Black Hawks (USHL): The 5-10.5, 185-pound defenceman is committed to Bowling Green State University next fall and received a "C" rating on Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list from the USHL. He played a big role in Waterloo's 6-3 defeat of the Youngstown Phantoms on Saturday with a goal and three assists. He was named the league's defenceman of the week as the four-point game established a new single-game career-high.
Friedman also excelled on the penalty kill, helping the team deny Youngstown on all four of its power-play opportunities. The 17-year-old from Toronto leads the team with five points (two goals, three assists), which also is tops among USHL defencemen.
3. Jack Ramsey, Penticton Vees (BCHL): The Vees rookie right wing, who happens to be the son of former NHL defenceman Mike Ramsey, is a two-way player capable of playing a smart, physical game. The University of Minnesota recruit had nine goals and 27 points in 24 games with Minnetonka (Minn.) High School last season. The 6-1.5, 172-pound right-handed shot earned a "B" rating on NHL Central Scouting's preliminary players to watch list from the British Columbia Hockey League. He has one goal and four points through nine games this season for Penticton (7-3-0).
DATES TO KEEP
Oct. 10: Boston College at Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.
Oct. 24-27: Beantown Fall Classic, Marlboro, Mass.
Oct. 26: Philadelphia College Hockey Faceoff (Vermont vs. Penn State), Wells Fargo Center
Oct. 28-30: Canada East selection camp (World Junior A Challenge), Oakville, Ont.
Oct. 28-20: Canada West selection camp (World Junior A Challenge), Calgary, Alta.
Nov. 4-10: 2013 World Junior A Challenge, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia
Author: Mike G. Morreale | NHL.com Staff Writer
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