The next wave of Maritime talent is ready to take the hockey world by storm.
From the Midget ranks to QMJHL, to potentially knocking on the NHL’s door, players from this region continue to excel.
The dream of playing pro hockey isn’t so far fetched as once imagined for players coming from the Maritimes.
An opportunity to play and the dream continues to fuel young Maritimers to believe that anything is possible when it comes to the game of hockey.
Over the past five years I have had the privilege of watching some outstanding individual and team performances from a scouting and broadcasting perspective.
The Maritimes continues to be a hot bed for producing some of the games brightest up and coming stars.
This year’s crop of 2004 QMJHL Prospects is no different.
It’s still unclear which route some of these young players and their families will decide to take, nevertheless their skill and character are unmatched.
Given the current COVID-19 crisis these young players won’t have the opportunity to showcase their talents in the best on best QMJHL Gatorade Challenge, but that doesn’t mean a plethora of scouts haven’t seen them apply their craft throughout the year.
The Challenge is an intense four day tournament that provides scouts one final comprehensive viewing of the top prospects before the QMJHL Entry Draft.
Here are some of the top Maritime prospects that I have scouted/seen this season. Unfortunately I haven’t seen all of the top prospects in the Maritimes play, but here are some that I did see.
Dylan Gill, Matteo Mann, Samuel Savoie, Dylan Andrews, Luke Woodworth, Brayden Schmitt, Drew Maddigan, Leighton Carruthers, Lucas Canning, Carter Ansems, Colby Huggan and Jeremie Thibodeau plus many many more.
Dylan Gill is one of the smartest two-way defenceman I’ve seen play in the last few years. Gill’s ability to read and react have scouts raving about his full potential.
Gill’s hockey sense is off the charts and there’s no doubt with a little more experience he could definitely be an effective defender at the QMJHL level.
Gill will have to continue to work on his skating, explosiveness, edge control and upper body strength to reach his full potential, but it’s clear that the young talented rear guard wants it badly.
Matteo Mann will be one of the most sought after defensive prospects in the 2020 QMJHL Draft with some Q scouts comparing him to Philippe Myers.
Comparisons and projections are part of the scouting world, nonetheless, Mann
possesses all the attributes to be great defencemen at the next level and beyond.
Mann skates extremely well for his size and has a great first pass.
The young defender reads the ice very well and has good offensive instincts. The highly skilled two-way defenceman will need to get slightly stronger to play with more physicality at the next level.
Sam Savoie plays on the edge. Sometimes he crosses it, but the speedy winger is very effective when he’s on his game.
Savoie has exceptional speed to the outside and isn’t scared to mix it up physically.
Savoie is very aggressive on the fore check, and has the ability to get to the net any time he wants. Savoie is good in traffic, possesses good puck skills and vision, but needs to move it quicker at times.
Savoie has an above average shot and has the ability to score from any where on the ice. Savoie can play both forward positions, but is more comfortable on the wing.
Savoie is starting to develop a full 200ft style to his game which will serve him well at the next level.
You can’t teach what Lucas Canning can do.
Canning is a natural when it comes to scoring goals.
“Lucas is a pure goal scoring winger with a pro release,” said one QMJHL scout.
Canning led the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League in goals with 30 this year as a rookie.
“Lucas possesses high-end skill to pair with his solid skating ability, he’s dangerous off the rush as well.”
“Lucas is at his best when finding open ice to unleash his deadly shot. He will be a premier goal scorer in the QMJHL,” the scout added.
Dylan Andrews possesses elite level speed coupled with a very accurate shot.
The skilled center has great puck skills in traffic and doesn’t shy away from the dirty areas of the ice. Andrews is working extremely hard on developing a solid two-way game, which will definitely serve him well at the next level.
Andrews makes every player around him better, and has the skill and compete level that will certainly translate to the next level.
Leighton Carruthers possesses all the attributes to be an effective power forward at the next level.
Carruthers is a hard-nosed competitor who boasts great linear speed and skill.
The highly skilled gritty left-winger has solid puck skills and has a very accurate heavy shot.
In 35 games regular season games with the Mac’s this season, Carruthers scored 18 goals and added 17 assists, which was good for 4th overall in the Nova Scotia Major Midget Hockey League.
Like any power forward Carruthers will have to continue to work on his explosiveness, puck skills in traffic and touch around the net to be a dominant effective power forward at the next level.
Dynamic skill and playing making ability coupled with tremendous puck skills and elite level hockey sense perfectly describe Colby Huggan.
Huggan is arguably one of the most skilled rookies in the entire NB/PEI Major Midget Hockey League. Huggan finished 11th in league scoring with 12 goals and 22 assists in 28 games.
Huggan’s ability to spot the open man and create time and space for himself will certainly translate to the next level.
The native of Charlottetown, PEI will have to continue to get stronger physically, but it’s undeniable that Colby Huggan has the ability to be a top six forward at the next level.
Drew Maddigan is an outstanding two-way defencemen with ice in his veins.
Drew Maddigan has exceptional composure and poise with the puck in all three zones.
The highly skilled puck moving defencemen has incredible edge control and very deceptive speed.
You have to look beyond the offensive numbers when looking at Maddigan’s ability as a full three-zone defencemen. Maddigan finished the regular season with 17 points in 35 games, but logged massive minutes in all situations with the Mac’s.
Similar to all fifteen-year-old defencemen Maddigan just has to continue to get stronger, take a less is more approach, but certainly has the makings to be an outstanding defencemen at the next level.
Luke Woodworth tore up the Nova Scotia Major Midget League this season.
Woodworth had 66 points in 33 games.
The highly skilled speedy forward is very effective in traffic and has great puck skills and offensive instincts.
Woodworth is an elite playmaking center who possesses a high hockey IQ, allowing him to find passing lanes to set up his teammates. A pass first forward with a finishing touch in his own right.
“Woodworth will be quarterbacking powerplays for many years in the QMJHL,” said one Q scout. To pair with his skilled play, Woodworth is an underrated skater, using his great edge control to buy time to make plays.”
Brayden Schmitt is an elite level skater, outstanding puck moving offensive defencemen with transitional speed and phenomenal puck skills and deceptive shot perfectly describe Brayden Schmitt.
Schmitt is the prototypical offensive defencemen that possesses similar attributes to that of Moncton Wildcats star d-man Jordan Spence.
Schmitt’s ability to create time and space for himself and others is truly exceptional.
This elite level offensive defencemen is no doubt very high on every QMJHL team’s draft board.
You could say Jeremie Thibodeau flew under the radar this season.
The highly skilled offensive minded defenceman can flat out play the game and continued to improve throughout the season.
The silky smooth skating rear guard is full of potential.
The talented defender will have to get stronger and focus on both sides of the puck to become an all around complete two way defender.
Thibodeau has a solid first pass, tremendous skating stride, but will have to refine or pick or choose his spots more effectively to maximize his potential.
If teams have done their homework Jeremie Thibodeau could prove to be an outstanding pick and a potential steal.
The summer will prove to be very important for the skilled defender to ensure he gets stronger to make the jump.
Carter Ansems is a rare talent.
Size, speed and skill, Ansems has it all.
Standing at 6’6 the sixteen year defender screams potential.
Ansems skating stride and mobility is incredible given his size.
The Canning, Nova Scotia product has very good puck skills and possesses great instincts in all facets of the game.
Ansems thinks the game very well and has a very good first pass.
The rangy defender will have to continue to work on his pivots, agility and foot work in close quarters in order to maximize his efficiency and effectiveness at the next level.
The sky is the limit for Ansems and like Thibodeau he could definitely be a steal in June’s QMJHL Draft.
The Gatorade Challenge is truly an excellent tournament that collectively brings all the players that may have played abroad together in a best on best showcase.
That opportunity maybe be gone, but all of these players and many more have worked extremely hard all season long.
It’s truly fantastic to witness so many young Maritimers leaving their mark on the game at the Midget level and seeing them strive to reach and fulfill their hockey dreams.
The future of the game is very bright here in the Maritimes.