It is a busy news day out of Quebec. We have the first regular-season schedule for the 2020-21 Canadian Hockey League (CHL) season. Plus, there was a trade in junior hockey and one of the Quebec’s professional teams re-signed a key player from last season’s squad.
The Q Releases 2020-21 Schedule
Our first step to getting back to whatever the new normal is going to be in the junior hockey world came earlier this week when the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) released its full 2020-21 schedule.
The 52nd season league history will kick off on Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, with 16 teams taking to the ice. The regular season will conclude on April 3, 2021, with every team in action. The playoff format is expected to be announced sometime in December. With the goal of cutting down on travel, teams will only play within their six-team division and 83% of the games will take place on the weekends.
Drummondville Acquires Veteran Defenseman
As the teams of the QMJHL prepare for the start of their season, general managers across the league are trying to make some last-minute additions to their roster. The Drummondville Voltigeurs were one such team as they acquired defenseman Félix-Antoine Drolet from the Chicoutimi Saguenéens for a fifth-round pick in the 2022 draft.
This is Drolet’s third team in his QMJHL career. He played his first two seasons with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan before joining the Saguenéens in 2019. The 20-year-old defenseman scored a career high four goals last season. He was a plus-38 during the 2019-20 season which wiped out his minus-38 rating the season before with the Titan. He has scored eight goals and 38 points in his 179 career QMJHL games.
Canadiens Re-sign Vejdemo
We are staying in Quebec but switching to the American Hockey League (AHL). On Friday, the Montreal Canadiens announced that they signed forward Lukas Vejdemo to a one-year, two-way contract.
Vejdemo was originally drafted by the Canadiens in the third round (87th overall) of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. The 24-year-old forward came over to North America in 2018 after three full seasons with Djurgårdens IF in the Swedish Hockey League (SHL).
He scored 13 goals and 29 points in 66 AHL games for the Laval Rocket during the 2018-19 season. Vejdemo had nine goals and 19 points for the Rocket last season, in 47 games. He made his NHL debut with the Canadiens on Dec. 31, 2019, against the Carolina Hurricanes. He played seven NHL games last season and scored his first goal versus the Nashville Predators on March 10, 2020.
Prospect of the Day – Mavrik Bourque
We will head back to the QMJHL and take a look at a potential first-round pick in this October’s NHL Entry Draft. Bourque is ranked 22nd among all North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting. THW’s Mathieu Sheridan has him listed as the 10th-best center heading into the draft.
Related: THW’s 2020 Draft Guide
Bourque’s rise up the draft board has been rather impressive. He scored 25 goals and 54 points for the Shawinigan Cataractes in his rookie season of 2018-19 and was the team’s first-line center at just 16-years-old. He had 29 goals and 71 points in just 49 games last season for the Cataractes. Only Alexis Lafrenière had a higher point per game average in the QMJHL in 2019-20.
He is a very dynamic offensive player with elite playmaking ability. He has great hockey sense on the ice and soft hands to help make quick plays in order to set up his teammates. Bourque is not the fastest skater in the draft class, but he is creative and keeps defenders on their toes because they are never quite sure what he is going to do next. His shot is powerful and accurate and comes with a fantastic release.
Bourque does need to improve on his consistency in his own zone, but that statement can be applied to nearly every player at this level. When he wants to backcheck, he does a very good job at it. However, there have been times when his commitment to defense is not where it should be.
Our own Eddy Jones feels that patience will be the key with Bourque, but it should pay off in the end.
Bourque has the offensive upside to be an effective top-six forward in the NHL. It’ll take him a few years, but I can see him on a team’s top six and playing on both the power play and penalty kill. He’ll need to improve his top speed and add physical strength to hit his ceiling.
Bourque’s game has been compared to Anthony Beauvillier of the New York Islanders and Travis Konecny of the Philadelphia Flyers. If he can develop into a player of that caliber, he would be worth a first-round pick.
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