On Point

The “point position”, “the backend”, “d-corps” or “the blueline”, you can call it whatever the hell you want, Atlantic Canadians have you all covered in the QMJHL. This region has a history of producing great defencemen and the next wave of talent is living up and surpassing expectations in the game today.

As it stands right now there are four New Brunswick born defencemen in the top 15 in scoring amongst defencemen in the QMJHL. Dyllan Gill of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies sits at 5th 47pts, Marc Andre Gaudet of the Sherbrooke Phoenix is 6th with 45 pts, Nicolas Savoie of the Quebec Remparts is at 9th 40 pts, while Kale McCallum who only played in 36 games this season before making the jump to the USports ranks still sits at 15th with 34 pts.  Evan Nause who was born out west, but played the majority of his minor hockey in Riverview has been decimated by injuries this season or he would have been a lot higher in the points department. In 29 games, Nause has 25 points and sits at 28th.

Let’s face it, it’s not all about the points when it comes to point position. Each and every Atlantic Canadian that patrols the blueline for their teams are impact players. Zach Biggar, Brayden Schmitt and Cole Larkin have all had great seasons and Q careers and sit 24th, 25th and 26th in scoring amongst defencemen within the league/

That trio logs a ton of ice time in every situation and have taken on leadership roles with their teams since they entered the league. Charlie DesRoches who has only played 36 games and Cameron Whynot who has only appeared in 45 this season due to injuries have been stalwarts since their inception in the league.

Oscar Plandowski, Conor Shortall, Jonathan Desrosiers, Simon Maltais are as versatile as they come and have really locked things down in the defensive zone. Shortall and Plandowski can provide an offensive spark when given the opportunity as well. That foursome is always tough to play against, possesses a two-way presence and have the daunting task to play against their opponents’ top lines. One shouldn’t forget about the likes of Jared Cosman, Lane Hinkley and Drew Maddigan they have been very solid for their respective rebuilding teams this season logging quality minutes in all situations. Alex Carr has had a great season with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in his second season with that organization.

Isaac Vos, Jack Martin, Owen Arnold, Cory MacGillivray, Matteo Rotondi and Harry Clements have all had solid seasons as well. Clements, Vos and Martin are just starting to carve their niche in the league as rookies while, Rotondi is in his sophomore season with the Voltigeurs continues to lock things down defensively while being a key for the Volts transition game.

Matteo Mann, Dylan MacKinnon, Anton Topilnyckyj and Luke Coughlin all have their sights set on the 2023 NHL Entry Draft. There’s a great chance that all four will hear their name called in June. They all possess unique characteristics that set them apart from their defensive counterparts.  Coughlin battled injuries this season and is trying to make up some ground. Topilnyckyj will need to continue to work on his consistency, be hard to play against and continue to transition pucks if he wants to reach his full potential at the next level. In his case, this is his first taste of being a regular top four D-man in the league, and he’s been solid so far. MacKinnon has been very solid this season for the Mooseheads. He brings a nasty physicality to the game and position. He’s very tough to play against when he has his “A” game. MacKinnon needs to continue to work on his transitional game and processing with and without the puck in order to reach his full potential at the pro level. Mann’s skating ability is truly off the charts for a player of his stature. He processes the game very well, and transitions pucks very well. Critics will question his offensive abilities and his nastiness, but I think those areas of his game will continue to grow and develop with time and maturity.

Marcus Kearsey, Owen Phillips, Spencer Gill and Jeremie Richard all have bright futures ahead in the QMJHL and beyond. This group of 2006 born players are highly skilled and all possesses transitional puck moving ability coupled with excellent skating skills.

This region continues to develop quality defencemen at a rapid pace, which is great to see for the game. Hockey is a way of life for so many Atlantic Canadians. The dream to play at the highest level possible continues to inspire. Those dreams often started in back yard rinks and small local arenas. Everyone has their own unique stories in the game which becomes a common thread throughout every small town and community. From subtle beginnings to memorable experiences at every developmental rung of the ladder, hockey becomes more than just a game it continues to shapes the lives of people that call this neck of the woods home. Hockey is more than just a game, it’s a way of life. That’s what makes these Atlantic Canadians journeys in the game so special.

Like so many before them the next crop of  top Atlantic Canadian defensive prospects have looked up to and idolized all those players that have come before them. There’s a sense of character, pride and honour that players possess from this region that is truly unparalleled. Playing the game the right way, giving back to the game and inspiring the next generation of kids coming up to believe that anything is possible no matter what your postal code is, means something to every player that calls Atlantic Canada home.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.