With the CHL underway, it will be great to watch players from each of the three member leagues progress toward the 2023 NHL Draft. The pandemic has wreaked havoc on CHL, and in the past year a number of restrictions are still in place.
Hopefully with the pandemic mostly behind us, things are on track to look more like a typical CHL season in 2022-23. Schedules will return to play between conferences, while facilities are expected to operate at normal capacity. The playoffs will go back to the expanded format we knew before the pandemic. These items will allow Scouts to schedule matches regularly and see players in situations they haven’t been able to see over the past three seasons.
Last year, OHL led the way with 35 players selected in the NHL draft, however, only two of them were selected in the first round — and only one of them, Shane Wright, was born in Ontario. As for the WHL, it was just the opposite, with six players taken in the first round, 28 in total. QMJHL saw only two selections from a total of 19 players in the first round.
Overall, the draft category for 2023 has been highly anticipated over the past two years. It is expected to be a confrontation between Regina Connor Bedard and Russian Matvey Michkov. However, over time, Adam Fantelli, a freshman at the University of Michigan, became part of the conversation. The developing depth in the draft class should have a lasting impact on the NHL.
The average year for eligible recruits to enlist in QMJHL is expected. There are always a few import players added along the way, and then there are the re-entry players that are still lagging behind as a result of the pandemic. Having said that, there is still plenty to be excited about with Hlinka-Gretzky gold medalist Ethan Gauthier leading the way.
QMJHL is the first of the CHL members’ leagues to begin its season. Defending champion Shawinigan will host Gatineau on Thursday, September 22nd. Meanwhile, here’s a look at the 10 QMJHL players eligible to participate in the 2023 NHL to continue.
1. Ethan Gauthier, RW, Sherbrooke Phoenix: Strong personality traits come straight from Dennis’ ex-NHLer father. The first team player who will modify his playing style with the required mission.
2. Ty Biddle, C., Drummondville Voltigors: The 16-year-old started his season with eight goals in his first nine games, but looked quiet as the year progressed. Scoring a target will be the calling card, but there are some old school pests that will attract scouts.
3. Jan Sprynar, RW, Rimouski Oceanic: He has played less than 100 matches over the past three seasons, yet he is expected to be Serge Beausoleil’s number one producer at Rimouski.
4. Matthew Cataford, right wing, Halifax Mosheads: After an excellent second half in Halifax, it was consistent if not odd at Hlinka-Gretzky. There is a lot to offer, but consistency will be a key factor.
5. Dylan McKinnon, D, Halifax Moss Heads: Type D rear view mirror, which always returns to cover up a more adventurous partner. Simple but effective game play.
6. Jordan Turini, D., Shawinigan Cataract: A moving puck, a moving defensive man who rotates well and plays with his head up.
7. Etienne Morin, DE, Moncton Wildcats: A two-way defensive player who had some success last season. He defends with a good stick, but can withstand using his body more effectively.
8. Cam Squires, Right Wing, Cape Bretton Eagles: Fight from the dots down with an excellent touch around the net.
9. Ty Higgins, DE, Acadian Bathurst Titan: A bit of an unknown after having to sit out in 2020-21, but he was leading the Ontario Junior B ring in scoring defenses before Bathurst moved on in January.
10. Alexis Burke, LW, Plainville-Boabrian and Armada: A good catch-and-release player who can be more effective by adding some “meanness” to his game.