The Journey: Top Fantasy Prospects In The QMJHL

Dave Hall

2020-03-21

It is official: The CHL has announced the cancelation of all remaining regular-season games for the 2019-20 campaign. This puts a drastic halt on the CHL's scoring races and with the fate of their post-season's still up in the air, could solidify the 2020 Draft Rankings early.

With hockey at a standstill, I know some of you are likely itching for next year's fantasy draft already. I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to dissect potential fantasy-worthy prospects coming out of Canada this year. Since the QMJHL beat the others to the punch and made the announcement first, I will begin on the East Coast, starting in the first round.

The Q is well represented this year, mainly in the mid-to-bottom half of the first round. Most notably, there is Alexis Lafreniere, who will likely be an auto-pick for first overall. If you are lucky enough to hold a high-end pick next year, I am sure you are aware that he is your must take. Therefore, I will not be touching on him in today's piece, just know that he is.

Here are your remaining first-round QMJHL prospects worth keeping an eye on for your respected fantasy drafts next season.

Dawson Mercer

Current Team: Chicoutimi Sagueneens 

Position: Right Wing

Draft projection: 10-15

Fantasy upside: 6.5-7.5

Mercer shows obvious potential and has been one of the more consistent point producers in the QMJHL this season, sporting a 1.43 points-per-game average. While he currently hovers around the 10th spot in most draft rankings, don't be shocked to see him drop slightly come draft day. His offensive capabilities are always on display, there is no question about that. However, his hockey IQ and decision making, both with and without the puck, may deter some teams away.

Entering his third season with Drummondville Voltigeur, Mercer came out strong, posting 17 goals and 24 assists through his first 26 games. This steamy start earned him his first look in the World Junior Championships, suiting up for Team Canada in the Czech Republic over the holidays. Although his role was slim, the Newfoundland native played a sound tournament, helping his country take home their second gold medal in two years. Despite his inability to find the scoresheet in seven games, Mercer's roster spot served as a nice exclamation mark to a solid draft year.

Shortly following his return to the Q, the 18-year-old was the recipient of a trade that sent him to a stacked Memorial Cup hopeful, the Chicoutimi Sagueneens. With a heavy offensive presence already on the team, he was able to fly under the radar and top off his year with a casual 18 points in 16 games.

It may take a few seasons before he creates any noteworthy buzz at the NHL level but once fully developed, carries a definite top-six potential. At his prime, 60-70 points should not be out of the question here.

Hendrix Lapierre

Current team: Chicoutimi Sagueneens

Position: Center 

Draft projection: 15-35

Fantasy upside: 6.5-7.5

Last year's number-one QMJHL draft pick has managed to stay afloat in the 2020 NHL draft rankings, despite missing the better half of the 2019-20 season. After bursting out the gate with two goals and 15 assists in 19 games, the Gatineau native was caught on the wrong end of a collision that resulted in the third concussion of his young career. He’s been out ever since.

When healthy, Lapierre has proven himself to be one of the more exciting playmakers of this draft class. His vision on the ice is what sets him apart from others, and while his shot needs much work, his ability to find his teammates from anywhere should be enough to solidify himself as a first-round pick this June. If he can work on his scoring touch, and somehow acquire a drive to push for the net, his game could evolve from great to elite.

With that being said, Lapierre is constantly reluctant to shoot, resulting in the loss of many high-end opportunities. He must learn to find high percentage areas and take shots when they are available. Size and weight will also need to be gained in order for him to be able to withstand the grind at the NHL level.

As mentioned, there are aspects that will need work. However, if developed properly, this QMJHL prospect has the potential to be a very successful player for years to come. He serves as a great option in any dynasty format.

Justin Barron

Current team: Halifax Mooseheads 

Position: Right Defence

Draft projection: 15-30

Fantasy upside: 4.0-5.0

Heading into the draft, Barron sits as the top-ranked QMJHL pick on the backend. The 6'2" rearguard is considered a Swiss army knife and shows decent potential in almost every facet of the game. His ability to break up plays and shut down his opponents will undoubtedly translate to the higher levels, while his offensive talents should grow with time.

The Halifax native's season was cut short due to a blood clotting issue, so his full-potential is tricky to pinpoint. Combine this with a slightly slow start to the season and Barrons's draft position becomes a bit of a guessing game. However, his talents are still considered in the high-end range and should be a decent two-way option. He should get picked up somewhere in the mid-first.

With that being said, I recommend treading lightly with this one. He should provide you some point production in deeper leagues, but his growth could take some time to prove worthy among the top ranks. I foresee him skating on a third pairing, fourth d-man at best.

Jeremie Poirier

Current team: Saint John Sea Dogs

Position: Left Defence

Draft projection: 15-30

Fantasy upside: 6.5-7.5

If you are looking for an offensive boost on your backend, Jeremie Poirier is the man for you. The 18-year-old rearguard is an elite skater with extremely creative hands. In just his second season in the QMJHL, he sits second in the league in points among defenders with 53 points (20G + 33A) in 64 games.

Poirier is projected to go somewhere in the first round, and rightfully so. The Quebec native holds a high offensive ceiling and has power-play quarterback written all over him. His skating is very strong and possesses some of the best edge work within this draft class. He has the ability to hold the line on a dime and does not shy away from pinching in to make the play.

Of course, his offensive tendencies come with its downfalls. He has been known to make poor decisions in the neutral zone and his high turnover rates have haunted him his entire career. His need to pinch into the play often has him caught in the opposing team's zone, resulting in many odd-man rushes. He will need to tighten up his game and learn to become more responsible with his defensive responsibilities should he want to excel at the next level.

Liabilities aside, the Saint John Sea Dog still holds high potential and should be on your radar as a long-term investment on your fantasy team. Of course, If your league counts plus-minus, be ready to take a potential hit in that category.

Mavrik Bourque

Current team: Shawinigan Cataractes 

Position: Center

Draft projection: 15-25

Fantasy upside: 6.5-7.5

Mavrik Bourque is leading the charge for the Shawinigan Cataractes this season, all while taking some big strides in his game. The sophomore center out of Quebec is arguably one of the purest goal-scorers that will take the podium in June and should be a lock for a first-round selection. He has proven abilities to find the back of the net and whether high-percentage or not, his shot tends to fool goalies on a consistent basis. His 71 points (29G + 42A) sit as the co-leader on a somewhat lackluster Cataracts team while sitting top-20 among the league.

His goal scoring has never been an issue, instead, it’s his lack of attention to the other aspects that have had scouts worried in the past. Luckily, his game seemed to turn a corner for the better over the summer, sending his draft stock to another level this campaign. Thanks to some terrific hockey IQ and vision on the ice, Bourque is able to make the quick play, before most see it themselves.

His game has managed to evolve from pure goal scorer – to all around point-producer, which has earned him the respect from many scouts. Assuming he can elevate his defensive play, and learn to play a 200-foot game, the 18-year-old pivot carries a high point production ceiling.

Given the right deployment, Mavrik Bourque could blossom into a solid goal-scorer in the next few years. He is definitely worth the gamble and could pay off in spades down the road.

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Don't miss out on my top projected players from the OHL and WHL in the coming weeks. Stay safe and enjoy your week!

Feel free to catch me on Twitter @hall1289

UPCOMING GAMES

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STARTING GOALIES

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HOT PLAYERS

  Players Team GP G A P
EVGENI MALKIN PIT 5 4 7 11
ADAM FOX NYR 4 1 6 7
JAKUB VORACEK PHI 6 0 10 10
NATHAN MACKINNON COL 5 2 6 8
MIKA ZIBANEJAD NYR 29 25 19 44
NIKITA KUCHEROV T.B 24 16 20 36
KEVIN FIALA MIN 11 9 7 16
EVANDER KANE S.J 7 5 5 10
KYLE CONNOR WPG 7 8 2 10
RYAN NUGENT-HOPKINS EDM 17 8 16 24

LINE COMBOS

  Frequency DET Players
32.2% TYLER BERTUZZI DYLAN LARKIN ANTHONY MANTHA
17% VALTTERI FILPPULA SAM GAGNER DARREN HELM
10.5% ROBBY FABBRI LUKE GLENDENING DMYTRO TIMASHOV

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