Last season, 51 Quebecers, including 6 goalies, played at least one game in the NHL. Of that number, however, 31 skaters and 4 Quebec goalies had been used on a consistent basis by their team.
On Wednesday, a few hours before the first face-off on the calendar, 37 Quebecers, including 2 goalies, appeared in the formations of the 31 NHL teams and 13 others were members of the reserve teams.
The organization of the Vegas Golden Knights is the one that relies on the largest number of players from Quebec, four. However, nine teams have none.
At the start of the season, all eyes will be on the Big apple, where Alexis Lafrenière, the very first pick of the last draft, will make his Rangers debut.
The talented winger from Saint-Eustache will find himself on the left flank of the third trio of the Blue Shirts alongside center Filip Chytil and right winger Julien Gauthier.
At 23, Gauthier patiently studied in the American League over the past few seasons. The Carolina Hurricanes handed him over to the Rangers in February 2020, and the Rangers quickly gave him a chance to show off. He did very well, especially in the last playoffs. This colossus of 1.93 m (6 ft 4 in) is therefore preparing to play his first full season in the NHL.
Chytil is therefore likely to hear French speaking on the bench in the coming weeks.
As for Lafrenière, if he adapts to the NHL as quickly as he did in the QMJHL at the age of 16. He will not play very long in the third line of Rangers.
In 2018, he was the first 16-year-old since Sidney Crosby to reach the 40-goal mark in the QMJHL.
The other Quebecer who will be talked about the most this season will undoubtedly be the center Pierre-Luc Dubois, of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Not infatuated with the Blue Jackets’ salary policy which often scares talented players away, Dubois refused to make a long-term commitment and demanded a trade. The two parties have just concluded a two-year contract which will make it easier for DG Jarmo Kekalainen to conclude the said exchange.
Dubois is one of the fiercest competitors in the NHL. He’s sort of a franchise player. There will therefore be many suitors to obtain his services.
At the start of the camp, he was coldly greeted by his trainer John Tortorella. It is even said that the organization had the photographs of Dubois which adorned the walls of the amphitheater removed.
A story to follow.
On the side of the Boston Bruins, the fans especially remembered the departure of the valiant captain Zdeno Chara almost two weeks ago. Rejected by the Bruins, Chara came to an understanding with the Washington Capitals. On the other hand, few people noted that it is the Quebecer Jérémy Lauzon who was entrusted with the position of Chara in the first duo of the Bruins.
The 23-year-old defenseman was developed in the excellent organization of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He played 19 games with the Bruins last season and the organization used him in six more playoff games.
To be alongside Charlie McAvoy in the team’s first defensive duo is a huge mark of confidence in him.
In Chicago, little defender Nicolas Beaudin was called
best surprise of the camp by Blackhawks coach Jeremy Colliton.
The 21-year-old hockey player played four seasons with the Drummondville Voltigeurs in the junior ranks. He had his first full season in the AHL last year when he was just 5’11 » (1.80m) and 170lb (77kg).
He came to camp at 85 kg (188 lbs) and Colliton said he was delighted with the improvement in Beaudin’s game, whose hockey sense is particularly high. Some see him as the worthy successor of Duncan Keith.
Beaudin was added to the reserve team of the Blackhawks. It will be interesting to see if we give him a chance to make his place in the squad this season.
In San José, defenseman Nicolas Meloche, who played his junior hockey in Baie-Comeau and Gatineau, also landed a position with the Sharks reserve team.
This is an interesting opportunity for the 23-year-old full-back as the team’s third duo are not entrenched.
In Philadelphia, giant format defender Samuel Morin was treated to a surprise when Alain Vigneault offered him a transfer … to the left wing.
Morin was a first-round pick (11th overall) in the 2013 draft. Now 25, he has played for the Flyers in each of the past four seasons. However, he was unable to reach the organization’s top 6 at the blue line.
This time, to keep him in the fold of the team and to add a little more height to his formation (Morin is 1.98 m / 6 ft 6 in), Vigneault offered to familiarize himself with the position of left winger. Given his experience as a defenseman, the Flyers’ coaches also think he could potentially use him on the shorthand.
Samuel Morin has worked a lot with Ian Laperrière in recent weeks to tame his new role. When the need arises, he can return to his defensive position, the coaches argued.
Morin is currently a member of the Flyers reserve team. This proposal from Vigneault is certainly a mark of esteem for this former member of the Rimouski Oceanic.