The 2023-2024 QMJHL season gets underway this Friday, September 22nd, with 7 games on the schedule. In this feature, we offer you our take on 3 players from each team we will be keeping an eye on for this upcoming season.
Milo Roelens, LC (2003): One of the biggest players in the QMJHL, standing at 6’06” and 207 pounds, Roelens is a strong two-way center who recorded just under one point per game with Sherbrooke last year. This is his last year in the league, so he’ll bring a lot of experience to a team that is rebuilding. He will also bring versatility, as he can play in any situation on the ice.
Robert Orr, LW (2003): Orr was drafted by Carolina in the 5th round of the 2021 NHL Draft, but was never signed by the team. He showed promise in his NHL draft year, but never took the next step in his development. He remains an above-average skilled player who should take advantage of his last year in junior to re-establish himself and earn a pro contract.
Antoine Keller, G (2004): The lone player on the team whose rights are owned by an NHL team, the goaltender from France was drafted by Washington in the 7th round of the 2023 NHL Draft. He should split playing time with Joshua Fleming, who was the number one goalie on the team last year with his .903 save percentage in 40 games. Last season, Keller played in Switzerland’s junior league with the Genève-Servette U20 team.
Niks Fenenko, LD (2004): In his 3rd season with the Drakkar, Fenenko is one of the most underrated defensemen in the league. Not a flashy defender by any means, but very efficient at both ends. He needs to take a step forward in his offensive game this season to be more dynamic from the back end. That could help his cause to get drafted (in his 3rd year of eligibility).
Justin Poirier, RW (2006): Having scored 28 goals last year as a 16-year-old rookie, Poirier’s shot is his biggest offensive weapon. It’s not hard to project him to score 40+ this upcoming season. He’s going to be a threat on the power play for the Drakkar, and with a better-supporting cast, the team expects a lot of out of him this season. He’s draft-eligible for the 2024 NHL Draft.
Justin Gill, LC (2003): Gill came over from Sherbrooke after a 93-point season. He was drafted by the New York Islanders this past June. Depending on what happens with his NHL training camp (he’s eligible to play in the AHL/ECHL this season), if he does return, it’s not hard to see him being paired with Justin Poirier like he was with Joshua Roy in Sherbrooke the past two seasons. He’s a top-line center in this league, excelling in all three zones, and can play in any situation.
Jonathan Fauchon, LC (2004): Fauchon should be one of the top players in the league this season after having a breakthrough season last year with 65 points in 53 games. He’s a two-way center with decent speed and has above-average smarts and skills. Even after losing Alexis Gendron last year, his production didn’t drop in the 2nd half of the season but unfortunately, he had some injury trouble at the end of the season.
James Swan, LC (2004): Swan came over from Halifax in a trade and performed well with an expanded role. He was just under a point per game in the 2nd half of the season. There’s reason to believe he can repeat it this year, even improve it. He was slightly buried in Halifax’s depth chart, but with the Armada, he has more chance to show off his talent and make that trade pay off for Blainville-Boisbriand.
Mateo Nobert, LC (2007): This franchise has never had a top-3 pick in the QMJHL Draft until last June, when they selected Nobert. The Lac St-Louis Lions product possesses the offensive gifts to be a high point-producer in the QMJHL, and in his first year, he’ll need to adapt to the physicality of major junior hockey, but he’s a legit talent to keep an eye out for.
Cape Breton Eagles
Tomas Lavoie, RD (2006): Lavoie was the number 1 overall pick in the 2022 QMJHL Draft. After a fine rookie season with the Eagles, he’s going to be a player to watch in this league ahead of the NHL Draft. He’s going to play some big minutes for the Eagles, and has tools that will draw interest from NHL teams as a big, skilled, right-shooting defenseman.
Cam Squires, RW (2005): Squires was drafted in the 4th round by the New Jersey Devils last June, and was just under a point per game last year with 64 points in 67 games. The top two scorers from the team have since graduated (Ivan Ivan and Samuel Johnson) and Squires’ role this season will be to lead the way offensively.
Cole Burbidge, LW (2005): Burbidge went undrafted last season and was traded to Cape Breton from Saint John in the offseason. He should help Squires and other forwards on the team make the Eagles a better team than last year. He has the talent to be a point-per-game player in this league, but he needs to play with more consistency.
Marcus Kearsey, LD (2006): Kearsey had a solid rookie season with the Islanders last season and big things will be expected out of him. He does a lot of things well on the ice. He skates well, he can bring some offense, he defends well, and has some good physicality. He should see tons of ice in 2023-2024.
Cole Huckins, LW (2003): Huckins came over in a trade in the offseason from Sherbrooke and will bring size, scoring and physicality to the Islanders. Last season on an excellent team, he finished the season with 28 goals and 58 points in 64 games. He was drafted by Calgary in the 3rd round in 2021, but was not signed by them.
Lucas Romeo, RW (2005): Romeo was a nice find by the Islanders, coming out of Ontario. He finished his rookie season with 15 goals, 30 points, and 79 PIM in 64 games. We expect to see his offensive numbers to go up this upcoming season and to see him continue to use his size to his advantage along the boards and in front of the net.
Maxim Massé, RW (2006): Massé will be one of the more scrutinized players in the league this season after winning the QMJHL and CHL Rookie of the Year awards last season. At this point, he’s projected as a first-round pick for the 2024 NHL Draft. He lost his center (Andrei Loshko to Rouyn-Noranda) and his supporting cast will be less experienced than last year’s, with tons of young players on the team. It will be interesting to see how he performs with this dynamic.
Émile Guité, LW (2007): The 2nd overall pick in the 2023 QMJHL Draft, Guité has smarts, can score goals with his great shooting skills, and be a physical player as well. He’ll need to work on his skating a bit, but we said the same thing about Maxim Massé last year, and look at the season he ended up having.
Peteris Bulans, LD (2005): We could have chosen a ton of other young players on the team, but Bulans is going to be a key player for the Sags this season. He played well with them last year even though he missed a lot of games due to injury. He had a great showing in the playoffs in the opening round against Rimouski, and we expect him to be the key guy on Chicoutimi’s power play with Massé this season. He had 18 points in 29 games last year, plus 6 points in 5 playoff games.
Ethan Gauthier, RW (2005): Acquired from Sherbrooke during the offseason, Drummondville native Gauthier will be the number one option offensively this season with his new team, a role he didn’t have last year with the Phoenix playing behind Joshua Roy, Justin Gill and others. We expect him to be one of the top players in the league thanks to his two-way game and physicality.
Maveric Lamoureux, RD (2004): This will be an important season for Lamoureux to establish himself as a premier defenseman in the league, but also his last chance to play for Canada at the World Juniors. He only played 35 regular season games last season after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason. He made some strides in terms of his puck management and puck skills once he returned to the ice last season, but his bread and butter remains his ability to defend, his size, skating and physicality.
Tyler Peddle, LW (2005): 2022-2023 was not a good season for him, and that made him fall to the last pick of the draft this past June. We expect him to rebound this season. He has a great shot, he is a solid skater, and can play physically when he wants to. The possibility of playing on a line or on the power play with Gauthier (who is known for his playmaking skills) should help him.
Samuel Savoie, LW (2004): Gatineau will be in rebuilding mode, and Savoie will be one of the most popular names during the QMJHL trade deadline in December. He brings a lot of speed, some offense, and unlimited tenacity and trash-talking for his team. There are not many players like him, and that’s exactly why he’ll be in high demand.
Tristan Luneau, RD (2004): The 2022-2023 QMJHL defenseman of the year will also be a name to look out for in trades this season. Luneau had a great season last year, and more importantly, a big rebound season after an only okay draft year. He looked quicker and a bit more dynamic, things he didn’t show as often during his draft year. Every QMJHL team that is looking for high-end defensemen this upcoming season is going to look at Luneau.
Jan Golicic, LD (2006): Gatineau lost a lot of players from last year’s team and will lose more this upcoming season, but Golicic offers a bit of hope for the future of the Olympiques. He’s a 6’05 athletic defenseman from Slovenia who will draw interest from NHL teams.
Jordan Dumais, RW (2004): Dumais led the league last year in assists and points, and was named the MVP of the league. Incredibly smart and creative, producing in the regular season in the QMJHL has come easy for him after 109 and 140 point seasons the last two years respectively. Halifax will still be a contender to win the championship after reaching the final last year. The one thing missing from his resume is a championship, and this will be his last year to get it. He’ll also want to be part of Canada’s team for the World Junior Hockey Championship after being cut last year.
Mathieu Cataford, RC/RW (2005): Cataford is an excellent two-way forward who can play center and on the wing. He can play in all situations and has great hockey sense. He finished last season with 75 points in 68 games, and his role will increase this season with some players graduating (Josh Lawrence, Zachary L’Heureux, Alexandre Doucet and Attilio Biasca).
Markus Vidicek, LC (2004): In his 4th season in the league, Vidicek is known as one of the best two-way players in the league and finished 15th in points across the league with 80 points in 68 games. Alongside Dumais and Cataford, Vidicek will be key offensively for the Mooseheads this upcoming season.
Caleb Desnoyers, LC (2007): The number one overall pick in the 2023 QMJHL Draft, Desnoyers is a two-way center with terrific vision. He’s a pass-first type of player, but will need to shoot the puck a bit more to become more of a dual-threat offensively. There will be some ups and downs during his rookie year (like most rookies) but we still expect him to be a solid contributor with the Wildcats this season.
Étienne Morin, LD (2005): Morin had a monster draft season last year, scoring 21 goals and recording 72 points in 67 games. He was eventually drafted in the 2nd round by Calgary with the 48th overall pick. He’s a premier defenseman in the league, alongside Tristan Luneau of Gatineau. It’s hard to find defensemen in the league who had more ice time per game than Morin, who was playing around 30 minutes per game in the playoffs last season.
Yoan Loshing, LW (2004): One of the best skaters in the QMJHL, Loshing creates a lot of offense with his speed. He was a point-per-game player last season with 63 points in 57 games and should repeat that trend this upcoming season. Moncton lost some key players offensively with Charles Beaudoin, Vincent Labelle and Maxim Barbashev moving on, which will put more pressure on Loshing to produce.
Vsevolod Komarov, RD (2004): Komarov made huge strides since his draft year and is now one of the top defensemen in the league. He’s not as offensively gifted as Tristan Luneau or Étienne Morin, but he excels in shutting down forwards. He’s big, mobile and has good hockey sense. He’ll play on a rebuilding team this season with the Remparts, but he should get traded at the trade deadline in December or January.
Quentin Miller, G (2004): Miller is a late bloomer who was the backup with the Remparts last season, but he’ll be the number 1 goalie this year with William Rousseau moving on. He’ll get plenty of games this season and will face a lot of shots. He remains a goaltender with not a lot of major junior experience, only having played in 20 games total in his career. He’s going to be heavily tested this year, as the Remparts are going to struggle. He was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the 4th round this past June with the 128th overall pick.
Mikaël Huchette, RW (2003): Huchette had a promising season two years ago, but only played 15 games due to a knee injury last season. He came back strong late in the year and had a solid playoff run with the Remparts. He’s a power forward with a big shot, and he takes advantage of his big frame in front of the net. He will get plenty of chances to prove his worth on the Remparts’ top-6 forward group this season.
Alexandre Blais, LC (2005): Blais is a pass-first type of player who thinks the game well and he’s a creative playmaker. He’s an average size player with average skating but we expect him to be a good point producer this season in the league. He finished the QMJHL pre-season with 13 points in 6 games.
Luke Coughlin, LD (2005): Coughlin was drafted in the 6th round by the Florida Panthers this past June. When he came back from having missed the first half of the year, he was decent, but his timing was slightly off. We expect to see him make more of an impact this upcoming season (offensively, too) compared to last.
Charle Truchon, LD (2003): Truchon played the past 4 seasons with the Québec Remparts and won a Memorial Cup playing a top-4 role on their back end last season. He was acquired in the offseason and will bring a solid two-way game and stability to the Rimouski D-corps.
Bill Zonnon, LW (2006): Zonnon was one of the more impressive rookies last season in the league, scoring 16 goals and 39 points in 63 games. He finished the preseason with 10 points in 5 games and will be a player the Huskies rely on heavily this upcoming season. Zonnon is only eligible for the 2025 NHL Draft.
Andrei Loshko, LC (2004): Loshko had a great season with Chicoutimi last season, finishing with 70 points in 67 games, and eventually got drafted by Seattle in the 4th round this past June. In Rouyn-Noranda, he’s going to join countryman Daniil Bourash, and they could become one of the best duos in the league, with Loshko as the passer and Bourash as the shooter.
Daniil Bourash, RW (2004): Bourash will be in his 3rd season in the QMJHL. He scored 41 times last season, and should be one of the top goal scorers once again. Still undrafted, we would like to see Bourash improve his two-way game this season, plus his speed, which is a big reason he has not heard his name in the past two NHL drafts.
Saint John Sea Dogs
Matteo Mann, RD (2004): Things didn’t go smoothly for Mann in Chicoutimi this past season because of injuries, and it affected his on-ice play. Now with the Sea Dogs, he gets a new start, and the chance to re-establish himself in the league. He’s big, has decent mobility and can play a physical game along the boards and in front of the net. We want to see him improve his reads and his play with the puck. He was drafted by the Flyers in the 7th round of the NHL Draft this past June.
Nicolas Bilodeau, LD (2005): Physically the total opposite of Matteo Mann, Bilodeau is a 5’07” offensive defenseman who amassed 43 points in 68 games in his rookie season with the Sea Dogs. This season, he’s going to continue to have a major impact on his team’s transition game and power play. At his size, the question marks about defending and being able to absorb physicality are still going to be there. That will likely limit some of his pro upside, but for the QMJHL, it shouldn’t matter too much, as we have seen many defensemen of this type thrive in the league.
Eriks Mateiko, LW (2005): The big Latvian forward will play in his second season in the league after scoring 16 goals and 36 points in 62 games last year. He also played for Latvia at last April U18 World Hockey Championship. He’s going to draw interest from NHL teams because of his frame (6’05”, 210) and decent skills.
Félix Lacerte, RW (2006): One of the best rookies last year in the league with his 24 goals and 52 points in 67 games. He also scored 5 goals in 5 playoff games. He started this season well with a strong preseason with 7 points in 4 games. He’s eligible for the 2024 NHL Draft and knows what to do with the puck on his stick, but he’ll need to improve his speed and continue to get stronger.
Isaac Menard, LD (2004): Potentially one of the best offensive defensemen in the league for this upcoming season. Last season, he finished the year with 48 points and also had 7 points in 5 playoff games. He’s a smaller defenseman and does have some question marks regarding his ability to defend, but he’s a great skater, which helps his cause a lot at both ends of the ice.
Jordan Tourigny, RD (2005): Tourigny had a fine season last year, but not enough to get drafted. He didn’t get much of an offseason in the summer of 2022, and that ended up hurting him. Now with a complete offseason this past summer, let’s watch if he can rebound and find his groove that he originally showed us during his rookie season, especially in the 2022 QMJHL playoffs.
Samuel St-Hilaire, G (2004): St-Hilaire outplayed Olivier Adam, the team’s top goalie, and eventually took over from him in the series against Halifax. He’s a good-sized goaltender and will get the chance to be the true number one this season, however, the team in front of him will be very different from the one he saw last year. He’s going to be challenged more often this year, and will face a lot more dangerous shots.
Israël Mianscum, LW (2003): In his 5th season in the QMJHL, Mianscum had his best season last year, with 30 goals and 61 points in 65 games. He’s the most gifted forward on the team this season with his powerful shot and big frame, and he also skates well enough for a player of his stature. He was invited to the Montreal Canadiens camp in 2022 and Detroit Red Wings camp this year.
Jakub Hujer, LW (2004): Hujer came from Rouyn-Noranda in an offseason trade. A big forward with a good compete level, Hujer has been very inconsistent in terms of skills. He has not been able to produce consistently in the league, with 24 points in 49 games two seasons ago and only 20 points in 62 games last season. A change of scenery will possibly do him some good. There’s some talent there, but at this point, we only have seen it in flashes here and there.
Charles-Antoine Pilote, LD (2003): Pilote came over to Val-d’Or after playing for Gatineau this past season and with Moncton prior to that. He’s a good-sized defender with decent athleticism. He will bring some veteran experience to a young team. He didn’t have a standout season last year, playing behind guys like Luneau, Belliveau, Warren and Boutin in Gatineau. With an increased role in Val-d’Or, he could improve his output offensively from what he has shown so far in the QMJHL.
Tomas Cibulka, LD (2004): Cibulka had a solid season with the Foreurs last year, recording 37 points. We should see him improve on those point totals this upcoming season as the team’s PP quarterback. He had a good showing in August at the U20 tournament, which is a good sign of possibly earning a roster spot on the Czechia World Junior roster for the 2024 World Junior Hockey Championship.
Philippe Veilleux, LW (2007): The 11th overall pick in last June’s QMJHL Draft, Veilleux is ultra-talented, but will likely encounter some bumps in his rookie season (again, like most rookies). Still, the potential is promising, and he should become an excellent QMJHL player. He’ll need to adapt to the physicality of major junior, but he will be a dangerous player in power play situations. He’s at his best with more time and space on the ice; he excelled on the power play last season with Collège Charles-Lemoyne.
Gabriel D’Aigle, G (2006): The 2nd overall pick in the 2022 QMJHL Draft, he’ll still share the starts with overager Nathan Darveau this season. D’Aigle has tons of good physical tools that will likely make him a good pro goaltender at some point, but didn’t have a great showing at the U18 World Championship in April or the Hlinka Gretzky Cup in August. We need to see more consistency from him from game to game, but he has plenty of time, as he’s only NHL Draft eligible in 2025.
Pier-Olivier Roy, LD (2004): If he was bigger and faster, he would have been drafted quite high in the NHL Draft. However, he remains undrafted after going through the 2022 and 2023 drafts. He had a great season last year with the Tigres, finishing with 68 points in 68 games (including 62 assists). Unfortunately for he and the Tigres, they were upset in the first round by the Voltigeurs, which cost him important playoff viewings. Nevertheless, he’s one of the top defensemen in the league, and one of the more intelligent players as well.
Noah Warren, RD (2004): Warren was acquired by Victoriaville in the offseason from Gatineau. He had a fine season until he got injured in March, which made him miss the end of the regular season and the playoffs. There are not many defensemen like Warren in the QMJHL; he’s huge and has great skating skills and physicality. He won’t ever wow you with his offensive game, but his bread and butter are his shutdown abilities and great combination of size and skating.