The 2008 NHL draft was the same old story for prospects from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Slide and slide big. And I'm not talking about the winter fun variety.
Twenty-seven 'Q' players were drafted over the weekend, but none went in the first round, despite at least three being expected to go in the mid-to-late twenties (Nicolas Deschamps, Maxime Sauve and Mikhail Stefanovich).
Apparently Deschamps was on Montreal's radar at 25, but then they traded the pick for Alex Tanguay, who is ironically a 'Q' alumnus.
The first player from the Quebec League to be picked was goaltender Jake Allen of the Montreal Juniors (they were the St. John's Fog Devils last year). Allen went 34th overall to St. Louis.
That's not surprising, though. Quebec goalies tend to be immune to The Slide because it's known as a hotbed for butterfly netminders.
Deschamps was next, falling about 10 spots to No. 35, where the Chicoutimi centre was plucked by the Anaheim Ducks. Deschamps is speedy and has good hands, but is criticized at times for a lack of grit.
If that sounds like the prototypical scouting report on QMJHL prospects, you're right. It's also a big reason why they tend to slide on draft day. The Quebec League has more scoring than the other two Canadian junior circuits, but is marked by a lack of physical play and defensive acumen.
The next 'Q' pick was defenseman Yann Sauve of the Saint John Sea Dogs, who went at No. 41 to Vancouver. The six-foot-three blueliner was the first overall pick in the 2006 QMJHL draft and at one point was expected to go in the top 10.
Sauve also dropped, as he was expected by some scouts to go late in the first round, or in the early thirties at worst. Vancouver could have a steal on their hands.
Luke Adam of the Juniors went three picks later to Buffalo. Adam went seventh overall in the same draft as Sauve. He had been expected to go somewhere in the thirties, but 44th wasn't much of a slide for him.
Three picks after Adam, the second Sauve was drafted as Maxime was picked by Boston. The Val-d'Or centre dropped about 20 spots on draft day.
Other 'Q' prospects picked in the second round include Patrice Cormier of Rimouski (54th, New Jersey), Marco Scandella of Val-d'Or (55th, Minnesota), and goalie Peter Delmas from Lewiston (61st, Colorado).
Other players who dropped from their expected draft position were defenseman Marc-Andre Bourdon of Rouyn-Noranda, who went 67th to Philadelphia (expected second round), Kelsey Tessier of Quebec, who went 110th to Colorado (expected second round), Joel Champagne of Chicoutimi, who went 129th to Toronto (expected late third round), and Mathieu Tousignant of the P.E.I. Rocket, who was slated to go in the fourth round but wasn't drafted at all.
By far the biggest slide of the day, however, belonged to Mikhail Stefanovich. The Quebec Remparts forward was pegged as a late first-rounder or early second-rounder.
Instead, he dropped all the way to the Toronto Maple Leafs at No. 98, with concerns about his consistency and work ethic dragging him down.
Stefanovich has loads of skill, not unlike teammate Angelo Esposito, but needs to put it all together.
All in all, the 2008 draft was one of disappointment for many QMJHL prospects--again. Whether they can rebound and prove NHL teams wrong remains to be seen.
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