The dust has settled and it’s back to business as usual in the QMJHL.
During the holiday trading period, general managers made over 60 deals. Along with players returning from the world juniors last week, rosters around the league look quite a bit different than they did a week ago.
Rouyn-Noranda, Shawinigan, Moncton, Gatineau and Val-d’Or are locked and loaded for a run at a league title after a busy trading period of adding major pieces. On the flip side, Halifax, Québec and Baie-Comeau moved any piece with value with an eye on the future.
Here’s news from around the ‘Q’ this past weekend:
Timo Time in full swing in Rouyn-Noranda
The Rouyn-Noranda Huskies were the winners of the Timo Meier sweepstakes, acquiring the big winger from the Halifax Mooseheads in the final trade of the trading period. He had a stellar debut, netting a pair of goals and an assist in his debut, a 6-1 win over Sherbrooke.
Meier had another goal and assist Sunday in a 7-4 win over Val-d’Or, a victory that allowed the Huskies to leap-frog the Foreurs back into first place. Meier is playing on a line with Antoine Waked and Colorado Avalanche prospect Julien Nantel.
New Shawinigan trade acquisitions shine
Dmytro Timashov also had a brilliant debut with Shawinigan after a trade from Québec. He was named the first star of a 6-2 win over Drummondville with four assists. In a re-match against Drummondville two nights later, he scored a goal and added two assists in a 5-2 win. The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect is ninth in league scoring with 60 points and is scoring 1.94 points per game, second in the league behind Connor Garland.
Timashov is playing on a line with New York Islanders first-rounder Anthony Beauvillier and Ottawa Senators prospect Gabriel Gagné in what could turn out to be the league’s most dangerous line.
Shawinigan’s other deadline acquisition, Danny Moynihan via the Halifax Mooseheads, scored a pair of goals in his debut. He’s on the third line with Mathieu Olivier and Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Dennis Yan, arguably the league’s best third line.
Memorable week for Abramov
Russian rookie Vitalii Abramov scored a pair of goals in his first QMJHL game for the Gatineau Olympiques in September and has shown no signs of slowing down. He leads all rookies in scoring with 62 points and is seventh in league scoring.
He padded those stats with a natural hat-trick against and a pair of assists in an 8-4 win over Halifax. The big performance came a few days after the small and shifty winger (he’s 5-foot-9, 170-lbs.) was named to the CHL Top Prospects game. Abramov is a speedy player with a high hockey IQ and finds a way to get to open spaces to generate offence.
Comtois celebrates birthday in style
The Victoriaville Tigres were sellers at the trade deadline, creating an opportunity for Maxime Comtois to become the face of the franchise.
The third-overall pick of the 2015 QMJHL draft, Comtois has now scored in four games straight, including a four-goal outburst Friday night against the Québec Remparts on his 17th birthday. He finished the week with six goals and is the QMJHL’s first star of the week.
Sitting second in rookie scoring with 45 points, Comtois is a name to watch for the 2017 NHL draft.
Cherry picking the league’s top prospects
Eight players from the QMJHL will lace up for the CHL top prospects game Jan. 28 in Vancouver. Evan Fitzpatrick (Sherbrooke) will be between the pipes for Team Cherry. He’s joined by the league’s top scoring defenceman Samuel Girard (Shawinigan), top rookie scorer Vitalii Abramov (Gatineau) and potential first-rounder Julien Gauthier (Val-d’Or).
Team Orr features defenceman Luke Green (Saint John), the first-overall pick of the 2014 ‘Q’ draft along with the forward trio of Pierre-Luc Dubois (Cape Breton), Pascal Laberge (Victoriaville) and Otto Somppi (Halifax).
In other NHL prospect news, International Scouting Services released its top-30 ranking for January. Gauthier (12) and Dubois (18) are the lone QMJHL representatives on the list.
In his first game after being handed the captaincy by the Rimouski Océanic, defenceman Simon Bourque scored a pair of goals in a 6-1 win over the Halifax Mooseheads. He was named captain after Anthony Chapandos was traded to the Sherbrooke Phoenix at the trade deadline. Bourque is eighth in defenceman scoring with 30 points. The Montreal Canadiens selected him 177th overall last June.
Here’s to hoping Daryl MacCallum has a generic set of goaltending equipment. He was claimed off waivers by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles on Thursday. The day before, he was traded from the Chicoutimi Saguenéens to the Val-d’Or Foreurs for a late-round draft pick at the trade deadline.
MacCallum started off the season with his hometown Charlottetown Islanders before being placed on waivers and claimed by the Acadie-Bathurst Titan. He was then traded to Chicoutimi but never played for the Saguenéens. Instead the 19-year-old played for the Summerside Capitals in the Maritime Junior Hockey League. MacCallum was traded to the MJHL yesterday as well, although he’s expected to remain in the QMJHL the rest of the season. That’s a lot of different teams in one season.
In a corresponding move, the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles have returned Kyle Jessiman to Midget triple-A. The 22nd-overall pick of the 2015 QMJHL draft, Jessiman posted four wins and five losses in 13 games, a long with a 3.97 GAA and 0.849 save percentage.