Top QMJHL prospects discussed ahead of 2022 NHL Draft

The 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft will be held July 7-8 at Bell Center in Montreal. The first round will be July 7 (7 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS) and rounds 2-7 are July 8 (11 am ET; NHLN, ESPN+, SN, TVAS). NHL.com is counting down to the draft with in-depth profiles on top prospects, podcasts and other features.

Today, a preview of the top eligible prospects from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. NHL.com’s full draft coverage can be found here.

Nathan Gaucher of Quebec and Maveric Lamoureux of Drummondville are the two top players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, and each is projected to be chosen in the first round in the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft.

Gaucher (6-foot-3, 207 pounds), no. 16 in NHL Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters, is the highest-rated player from the QMJHL. The right-handed center had 57 points (31 goals, 26 assists), five power-play goals and five shorthanded goals in 66 regular-season games and nine points (three goals, six assists) in 12 playoff games.

Tweet from @mikemorrealeNHL: NHL Draft Class: JF Damphousse of @NHLCentralScout joins us this week to discuss all things @QMJHL. JF provides the reasons RHC Nathan Gaucher (6-3, 207) @quebec_remparts deserves to be a 1st-Rd pick.Apple: https://t.co/10yUoOErrSSpotify: https://t.co/f2ljhBue14 pic.twitter. com/jBFyAl4MeA

“He’s the full package,” Central Scouting’s Jean-Francois Damphousse said. “He’s got the size and is a right-handed centerman who can do a lot of things on the ice. He’s good on both sides of the puck, can play really well in his own zone. He can win draws and I’ve seen he played on the wing as well at Canada’s Under-20 camp last summer. He can play physical and can do some damage on the offensive side yet is really reliable defensively. “

Lamoureux (6-7, 199), a right-handed defenseman, had 24 points (four goals, 20 assists) and 10 power-play points (two goals, eight assists) in 54 games. He’s No. 20 in Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters.

“He’s 6-foot-7 and the way he skates … it’s a rare thing,” Damphousse said. “What I like is he sees the ice, sees his options, sees the center support and sees the stretch pass. Is it perfect execution-wise? Not all the time. But I see a defenseman that can adjust and play the next level. “

Tweet from @mikemorrealeNHL: NHL Draft Class: @VoltigeursDRU def Maveric Lamoureux (6-7, 199) is one of the more intriguing options in the 2022 Draft. JF Damphousse of @NHLCentralScout provides the scoop on right-hand shot.Apple: https://t.co/10yUoOErrSSpotify: https://t.co/f2ljhBue14 pic.twitter.com/aqAGxb16bA

Gaucher and Lamoureux are two of 36 QMJHL players in Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters.

To break it down, here’s a Q&A with NHL Central Scouting’s Jean-Francois Damphousse:

Tristan Luneau (6-1, 189; No. 24 in Central Scouting’s final ranking of North American skaters) of Gatineau worked on improving his shot during the offseason and scored 12 goals in 63 games this season. What is special about the right-hand shot defenseman?

“I think it’s his brain, his hockey sense. The way he reads the game, the way he manages the puck. He’s excellent at retrieving pucks, making plays and finding his options. He’s great at escaping the plays in traffic under the hard forecheck from the opposition. Overall it’s the way he recognizes the options in front of him, and he’s an excellent defender as well. He adapted well this year playing a great two-way game. I think when we saw him as a 16-year- old we saw a lot of his offense, but he became a great two-way defender in the QMJHL this past season and there’s lots of upside to his game. “

Noah Warren (No. 33) of Gatineau is another defenseman with outstanding size (6-5, 224). He’s got the physical edge, but does he project to have a more developed offensive game?

“I think he does have that offensive upside. He didn’t have much power play time the past couple of years with Gatineau but I think he has some more offense in his game when you look at him play. I think he’s got really good puck skill, can manage the puck well. I think if he has a little bit more power-play opportunity, we’ll see even more offense in his game. His 24 points in 62 games this year isn’t bad considering he didn ‘ t have any power-play time.I think he was probably trending in the right direction over the second half, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he is picked at the end of the first round, top of the second round. There’s not many on the market that can play his type of game. “

Is there anything about the game of forward Maxim Barbashev (6-1, 183; No. 98) that reminds you of his brother, Ivan Barbashev, who is coming off a 26-goal, 60-point season with the St. Louis Blues?

“I think there’s some similar aspects when you compare both players, mostly on the physical aspect. Maxim can really finish opponents, is really effective on the forecheck. He’s tough to play against, a hard worker. Maybe doesn’t have the offense that his brother had at the junior level, but I think it may come in the next couple of years. He was a little bit inconsistent this year offensively, but you saw flashes in his game. I think with a little bit more consistency he could produce at a higher rate. But you can certainly see the physical traits and forechecking game when comparing him to his brother. “

Sherbrooke defenseman David Spacek (6-0, 174) was one of the big risers in the final rankings, moving to No. 55 from No. 81 at the midterms. What stood out in the second half of the season about the right-hand shot?

“He’s obviously a second-year eligible for the NHL Draft. We felt that he didn’t get much exposure in his draft year. He was still ranked on our list on the European side, but coming to the QMJHL and execute the way he did, we thought was impressive. He manages the puck well, can play the game really good defensively and also generates a ton of 5-on-5 offense and the power play. He’s got a hard shot and recognizes the options in front of him. He knows when to jump into play and when to stay back. I thought he was one of the most valuable players in the Quebec league this year as a rookie and that’s probably why he jumped to No. 55 on our list. It was impressive the way he stepped up and played such a big role for Sherbrooke. “

Can you give us four other players you feel were trending in a positive direction over the second half of the season and could offer help to any NHL club in 3-to-5 years?

“There’s a few good defensemen from the QMJHL who might be available. Jeremy Langlois (No. 60; 6-0, 182) of Cape Breton is an offensive-type defenseman and really smooth skater. He’s an intriguing prospect who deserves a look. Jake Furlong (No. 68; 6-0, 189) of Halifax provided a lot more offense than I thought over the second half and is a good prospect. He’s a type of defenseman that can step up at the pro level and play a two-way game. Angus Booth (No. 92; 6-0, 177) of Shawinigan had a couple injuries in the second half, but he’s a quality two-way guy, really reliable defensively, and has a good first pass. He’s someone to keep an eye on. Finally, Marc-Andre Gaudet (No. 100; 6-3, 180) of Acadie-Bathurst has a big frame, is probably a late bloomer. He provided some offense for Bathurst and ended up running the power play for them. “

Photo: Vincent L-Rousseau, Sherbrooke (QMJHL)

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