2021 NHL Draft: 5 under-the-radar QMJHL players to watch
The QMJHL has already dropped the puck on their season, allowing for an extended look at the league’s prospects.
With the Q the only of the CHL’s three leagues to have kicked off – albeit with only certain teams active – scouts have been able to begin evaluating this year’s crop of draft-eligible talent.
The team at FCHockey has identified five prospects from the league that perhaps aren’t getting the attention they deserve. One of them is even an early standout in FCHockey’s top-10 draft eligibles for October.
Here are FCHockey five under-the-radar QMJHL prospects to watch:
Cole Huckins, C, Acadie-Bathurst Titan
Acadie-Bathurst Titan forward Cole Huckins has been on fire to begin the season. He had nine assists and 15 points in the first 11 games of the season – including two four-point outings. This follows an excellent rookie season in which the big forward produced 25 assists and 38 points in 64 games.
Despite his impressive production, Huckins deters scouts with his sup-par movement. Standing at six-foot-4, 193-pounds, he possesses pro-ready size and excellent offensive ability. However, as the NHL continues to become smaller and quicker, a lot is riding on whether or not he can improve his skating.
Evan Nause, D, Quebec Remparts
Evan Nause was selected by the Val D’Or Foreurs in the first round, sixth overall in 2019 but elected to play in the USHL. After recording 14 assists and 17 points in 44 games with the Sioux Falls Stampede, the defenceman was drafted again – this time fifth overall by the Quebec Remparts.
With Quebec in one of the province’s “red zones,” Nause has only played two games this season, in which he recorded an assist and played on the first pairing.
The New Brunswick native may go unnoticed for some due to the subtleness of his game. On both sides of the puck, he is remarkably poised for his age. Some scouts may hope for him to show some more flash, whereas some may be happy for him to fly under the radar so they can look smart picking him later in the draft.
Robert Orr, C, Halifax Mooseheads
Before you ask, he does go by Bobby! But not because of number four – he was named after his grandfather.
Robert Orr was originally drafted by the Chicoutimi Sagueneens but never signed. He arrived with the Halifax Mooseheads via trade after spending the season prior in midget with the Lac St. Louis Lions, the organization that produced Jonathan Drouin, Anthony Duclair and Alex Killorn. He led the team in scoring, notching 45 points in 42 games.
The five-foot-11, 168-pound forward has received plaudits for the defensive side of his game. However, he had eight points in his first 11 games. On a Mooseheads team brimming with talent, scouts will definitely take a long look at the new Bobby Orr.
Oscar Plandowski, D, Charlottetown Islanders
Following an unexceptional rookie season in which he tallied 12 assists in 60 games, the smooth-skating rearguard has started the year off well on the first-placed Charlottetown Islanders. Alongside fellow 2021-eligible William Trudeau on the second pair, Oscar Plandowski has four assists in nine games.
After making a splash in minor hockey, playing for prep schools in Edmonton and Connecticut, the hype surrounding Plandowski started to die down last season. Although he played well at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, the defenseman was outshone by other rookies in the QMJHL.
Plandowski’s father is the newly-appointed Director of Amateur Scouting for the Arizona Coyotes and his mother teaches power-skating to prospects in Nova Scotia. The six-foot defender returned from an offseason of training with his mom faster and stronger, weighing in at 190 pounds.
Should the Islanders and Plandowski continue their hot start, it is only a matter of time before he begins to garner attention.
Peter Reynolds, C, Saint John Sea Dogs
Coming through the ranks at the esteemed Shattuck St. Mary’s program, Peter Reynolds was initially committed to Boston College. Thus, he began his junior career in the BCHL, tallying 33 assists and 47 points in 53 games with the Chilliwack Chiefs.
This year, he arrived to the Q with a reputation. He was the third-ranked prospect in the 2019 QMJHL Draft and he represented Canada at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. He also led Team New Brunswick with nine points in seven games at the Youth Winter Games.
Similar to Orr, Reynolds will have plenty of chances to impress scouts, since he plays with projected first-rounder, Joshua Roy.