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Sunday, October 31, 2010

QMJHL notes: Couturier, Huberdeau, Filippi and Danault in top-20

Was looking over the QMJHL scoring standings and noticed that four 2011 draft eligibles of note are in the top-20 of league scoring.

Not surprisingly, Sean Couturier is sitting in third place with 13 goals and 31 points in 21 games. He tied for the league lead in scoring last season, so he'll push the league leaders all season. Top scorer is P-M Devos of Victoriaville. Couturier is a stud-- the right package of size, skill and sense. His skating isn't great, but it won't hold him back either.

In ninth place is Saint John Sea Dogs center Jonathan Huberdeau. A stringbean with lanky frame and long limbs, this guy could develop into a monster up the middle some day when he fills out. He skates well for having such a high center of gravity, but has beautifully soft hands and superior vision for making plays. He's also been firing pucks to the back of the net this season after many thought he'd have a higher assists-to-goals ratio. In 19 games, Huberdeau has 13 markers and 24 points. Interestingly enough, neither he, nor fellow Sea Dogs 2011 eligibles Tomas Jurco, Zack Phillips or Nathan Beaulieu registered any points in Saint John's 7-0 pasting of Rouyn-Noranda today.

Tomas Filippi was passed over in the draft last season, but is doing his darndest to prove all 30 NHL teams wrong for snubbing him. He's got 12 goals in 17 games with the Quebec Remparts this year, and he's got very nice speed and puckhandling ability with a lightning release. The biggest difference from what scouts saw last year is that he's actually competing hard and showing a real effort. That should see him get picked at some point, but you never know.

I thought Marek Hrivik was a lock last year after being passed up in 2009, and he didn't get a call either. Hrivik, you may recall, was a big, skilled Slovak winger with a nice shot (but some heavy feet) who was on Moncton's Memorial Cup entry last year. Coach Danny Flynn told me before the 2010 draft that he figured Hrivik would get picked as well, so the Wildcat forward not going at all had to be news to his coach. In fact, when I heard that the Bruins had acquired the last pick in the draft from Chicago, I had visions of them using it on Hrivik, but they opted for Lake State defenseman Zach Trotman instead. He's currently in 10th place in the QMJHL scoring race with nine goals and 23 points in 17 games.

Finally, Phillip Danault rounds out the top-20 with eight tallies and 21 points in 19 games. He had a very strong Ivan Hlinka camp and a solid tourney. Danault has some real speed and brings a hard working attitude to the ice with him. But, he's small (5-10, 160) and not very strong. Some scouts think he'll have a hard time at the next level in dealing with the much bigger, stronger, faster players. He'll get drafted because he's got some nice skills, but he's a project that will have some hills to overcome.

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