Who’s Next?

The 2021 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone. There were some ups and downs when it came to Maritime based players, but many undrafted players got camp invites, which was great to see. However, who’s next?

Who are the Top Maritimers for the 2022 NHL draft? I realize that it’s a long way off, but the next top prospects are preparing to accomplish their lifelong dreams to reach hockey’s highest level.

The second instalment of In Focus Scouting will drill down on four of New Brunswick’s finest 2022 Draft eligible prospects.

Josh Nadeau, Eli Barnett, Marc-Andre Gaudet and Lane Hinkley are all on a tremendous trajectory and definitely are New Brunswick’s next top NHL draft hopefuls.

Lane Hinkley

Lane Hinkley had a fantastic rookie season with the Acadia-Bathurst Titan this past year. Hinkley is working incredibly hard on his game this summer with various programs in the Moncton area to ensure he reaches his maximum potential.

The Riverview, New Brunswick product is a solid puck mover and a bruiser of a defender. He’s one of the strongest defensive skaters and will become one of best two-way defenders in the QMJHL in the upcoming years.

Hinkley is a solid two and half zone defender at the junior level, but will slide into a shut down role at the pro level. He’s a heavy physical presence on the Titan backend. He has above average puck skills and thinks the game well. He will have to work on his first step and get a tad bit quicker on his pivots to excel at the pro level. There’s no question Lane Hinkley is on a phenomenal trajectory. Some NHL scouts would probably say he’s raw, but there’s no doubt he’s more than ready for rigours and challenges of professional hockey. Hinkley is a throw back defender, the type of defemceman that you never want to face. That kind of defender that might not have 20 or 40 pts or be flashy, but will log massive minutes in every situation for the Titan on their quest for a President Cup and Memorial Cup.

Josh Nadeau

Well I’ve written a lot about Josh Nadeau’s path in the game. Some would say I’ve exaggerated, they clearly don’t understand the game or his full potential. I can honestly say Josh Nadeau is the smartest player I’ve seen since Conor Garland in this region.

One cold winter night at the 4-Ice Centre, Nadeau should have been credited with 4 assists in the 1st period. He played fantastic that night, honestly he played fantastic every time I saw him play.

Some people have said, “oh you just have to play him physical and you can take him off his game.”

Obviously, given his stature, Nadeau will always have to address that or prove people wrong moving forward throughout his entire career at every level, but rest assured he will always contribute and be an exceptional play maker and point getter no matter what at every level.

This kid is out of this world.

The Maine Black Bears know exactly what they are getting in Nadeau. Obviously, some NHL scouts will no doubt steer clear of Nadeau based on his size, but if you can play, you can play certainly applies to this young man.

The Nadeau brothers will no doubt be playing together with the Penticton Vees of the BCHL this season. Nadeau’s play making ability and hockey sense makes him a threat in any league.

Bradley, Josh’s younger brother is a quite the trajectory himself.

Some people in the hockey world believe Bradley is even better than Josh. That’s an unfair comparison given all of their amazing similarities.

I can’t wait to see the Nadeau’s play together. I can’t wait to see them excel.

I can’t wait to see Josh Nadeau get drafted into the NHL. Some say it might not happen, Josh Nadeau is the epitome of a late bloomer and possesses all of the components it takes to be a longtime pro.

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Josh Nadeau’s quest to play at hockey’s highest level may have started on his outdoor rink in Northwestern New Brunswick, but will no doubt lead him to exactly where he wants to go.

Eli Barnett

Do 6”5 right shot defenders grow on trees, hell no! Do skilled transitional 6”5 right shot defenders grow on tress, hell no!!!!

That’s what makes Riverview’s Eli Barnett so intriguing.

Barnett can flat out play. He’s a solid puck mover and has really come into his own the last few seasons when it comes to edge control and growing into his body.

Barnett decided to stay in the Maritimes during last seasons COVID year and was limited to only 22 games at that level based on an injury and COVID-19 restrictions across the province of Nova Scotia and the MHL.

Barnett is heading west to play with the Victoria Grizzles of the BCHL in 2021-2022. The rangy defender will have to work on his quickness and agility to ensure he excels at the pro level. The US College route will no doubt give Barnett more time to grow and develop his already amazing foundation.

NHL scouts will no doubt be zeroing in on Barnett’s size as an tremendous pro asset, but let’s hope they don’t overlook the total package.

Barnett has worked very hard on his backward skating and lateral movement over the last couple of off-seasons and there’s no question it definitely shows.

His work ethic and compete level is upper echelon.

As always it might take longer for a player of Barnett’s stature to fully come into his own, but where is this kid going to be at 21 or 23 years old? Where is Eli Barnett going to playing then? Let’s just say the sky is the limit for Eli Barnett. Don’t believe me, just wait and see!

Marc-Andre Gaudet

I’ve been following this kids path in the game ever since seeing him and his Midget team getting trounced. Yes that’s right always beware of the great hidden gem of a defenceman on a struggling team.

Marc-Andre Gaudet is a late bloomer with incredible upside. Check that, Marc Andre Gaudet was always going to be a player, he just has it. He possesses all the tools it takes to be a solid pro puck moving transitional two and half zone defender. Gaudet isn’t flashy, he just makes plays, he makes all of the right plays at the right times. He has the ability to play in all situations and has ice in his veins.

Like any young up and coming defender, Gaudet will have to continue to work on his skating and first step, but he like all of the other NB NHL Draft Prospects has a tremendous foundation. Gaudet had an outstanding rookie campaign with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan a season ago and really adjusted well to the Q level.

On some nights last year Gaudet was the Titan’s best defender. Gaudet takes a less is more approach when handling the puck. He has great vision and passing ability. At times this season he got in trouble when he wanted to go cross ice or up the middle in his own zone, but many of those occasions his decision was the right one, he just had to make it the decision or move the puck quicker. Those little mistakes will vanish from his game with time and experience. Gaudet is the type of player/NHL prospect that will make NHL scouts look brilliant, especially if he somehow slips in the draft rankings. We all know those rankings are very subjective, but don’t worry NHL scouts from the Maritimes appreciates Gaudet’s game.

Gaudet will continue to impress this season, he will continue to make plays under pressure with relative ease. Marc-Andre Gaudet is the type of player and person that won’t let NHL Draft pressure effect his play on the ice. You see when I say he has ice in his veins, it’s true, stuff or pressure doesn’t seem to bother him, he just flat out plays, gives it everything, every shift.

He’s probably the most underrated QMJHL NHL Draft eligible player in this year’s draft class. At the end of the day Marc-Andre Gaudet will get drafted into the NHL, it’s just a matter of where, not when!

If you want to check out articles on Barnett, Nadeau and Gaudet, just search for their name on the FDSPodcast website,

See you at the rink,

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