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Sunday, January 30, 2011

QMJHL roundup: Couturier dominates, Sea Dogs keep trucking along

Drummondville center Sean Couturier had a bangup night against his dad's Acadie-Bathurst Titan (that's Patrice Bergeron's old junior club as all you hardcore draftniks out there certainly recall), posting a pair of goals and five points. Sylvain Couturier, as GM of the Titan, no doubt felt a twinge of fatherly pride to go with the chagrin of seeing his progeny smoke his team last night.

The outburst gives the big, talented Couturier 23 goals and 70 points in 40 games with the Voltigeurs this season. He's on pace to beat his league-leading 96-points last year if he can stay hot and consistent. He's sure to be a top pick in the NHL draft, regardless of the reports you may read that he's falling or the mock drafts you may see that have him dropping out of the top-three. Don't see that happening, even if I'm not bullish on his potential to be an elite player at the NHL level. I think he'll be a good one, but when you tank a season, you hope that you're getting a franchise cornerstone. I'm not sure that Couturier is that kind of player, but that doesn't mean he's going to fall in this draft class, either.

For more on Couturier's big night, you can read Neate Sager's excellent Buzzing the Net blog, where he named Sean the CHL's 1st star for Saturday.

In other 'Q' news, the Saint John Sea Dogs won their 40th game out of 48 total contests this season, pasting the Baie-Comeau Drakkar to a 6-1 score yesterday. Sick. Amazingly enough, they haven't run away with the field yet-- the Quebec Remparts are eight points behind them, so the league standings haven't become a laugher...yet.

Jonathan Huberdeau didn't register any points in the most recent win, but he's been steady as she goes all season, putting up 29 goals and 71 points in 47 contests. He's got the size (though lacks the weight and strength right now) and skill to be a top-six NHL forward someday. His stock continues to jet upward. Zack Phillips may have the quietest 29 goals of any player in the league, and after watching him in the Top Prospects Game, I can understand why there isn't a huge buzz on him. Sure, Sea Dogs supporters and close followers of the 'Q' can attest to his excellence, but he's one of these stealth guys who doesn't jump out at you until there's a play around the net and all of the sudden, he pounces on the puck and its in the back of the net.

Tomas Jurco has been a bit of a disappointment given the sky-high expectations, but his 17 goals, 35 points in 40 games may be more of a reflection of Saint John's ridiculous depth than anything else.

Here's a QMJHL website feature on Jurco, and you're also invited to check out the 5 Minutes in the box feature I did with him at the WJC.

Don't forget about Nathan Beaulieu, too-- the two-way defender is another Sea Dog who didn't register any points against the Drakkar, but has nine goals and 33 points in 47 games, not to mention a +30 rating. He's still working on his overall defensive play, but this guy has solid NHL defender for years written all over him. Really like his toughness as well. At 6-3 and only 191 pounds, he's going to get a lot stronger and heavier. When he does, people are going to be even less inclined to want to fight him.

2 comments:

  1. You mentioned that you had doubts about whether Couturier is a franchise player- are there any 2011's that you believe will be franchise players?

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  2. Good question!

    The answer is, in my opinion, no. Very good players, yes. But franchise talents like Stamkos, Duchene, Kane, Toews, etc. No.

    Of course, I could be wrong. Wouldn't be the first time! But, the prevailing thought I'm hearing from NHL scouts and others is that this is a solidly deep class, but lacking in elite talent at the top.

    In other words, tough year to finish at the bottom of the standings- likely not getting a guy you can build a team around. But again, don't have a crystal ball, so one of these guys or maybe even someone else not in the top-four discussion right now could elevate in time.

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