Habs QMJHL Prospect Report: September to Mid-October

Photo: Phoenix de Sherbrooke

Photo: Phoenix de Sherbrooke

This is the first QMJHL prospect report of this 2015-2016 regular season concerning Habs prospects playing in the QMJHL: Daniel Audette and Simon Bourque.

Daniel Audette, C, Sherbrooke Phoenix (R5 2014, #147)

Audette has been one of the few players to reach the expectations so far with the Sherbrooke Phoenix. The Birds, seen by many as a contender this season, have had a very tough start to the season, posting a 4-8-1 record. Audette suited up for 10 of the 13 games, and he was able to pick up 4 goals and 11 assists during that time.

The main weakness of the Phoenix so far is their defense. Sherbrooke has allowed 55 goals so far, the highest total in the “Q”. This partially explains why Audette has a -4 differential, but it really isn’t that bad considering all players but one on the team have a neutral or negative (even as low as -14 in 13 games) differential so far.

“I have been playing well so far for what’s about scoring, but I need to improve on other things. We aren’t playing well as a team and are allowing too many goals. As a leader on this team I need to make sure I lead by example and play better all around”, thinks Audette.

Daniel forms a line with two players he hasn’t played with before. Julien Pelletier (CBJ prospect) and Jan Dufek (2016 NHL Draft prospect) play as wingers while Audette centers the line. Even with the sub-par results for the team, this line is getting better with time as the linemates get used to each other.

“Julien is a good sniper and he reads the play very well. Jan has good playmaking skills and can score goals, and can also play a more physical style and drive the net. We are starting to develop some chemistry and we are getting better as a line”, describes Audette.

The 5’9″ forward has also been more disciplined this season, since he spent a lot of time in the box for things like slashing and hooking over the last few seasons. He is also a great reason why the Phoenix is currently sitting in third place on the PK because of how good he is at putting some pressure on the opposing defensemen, forcing them to rush their plays and create turnovers.

More recently, Audette has been named to the Team QMJHL for the upcoming Canada-Russia Series, which will be held in Rouyn-Noranda on Nov. 17, and Halifax on Nov. 19. This will be the third time he participates in this event (was called the Subway Super Series until this year). He will represent the Phoenix along with teammate Jérémy Roy (SJS prospect).

Simon Bourque, D, Rimouski Océanic (R6 2015, #177)

Bourque was cut before the Habs main camp, just like Audette. While many players would have been affected by such events, it was not the case for the young Dman as he is having a very good season so far with the Rimouski Océanic. Forced to step his game up and replace elite level guys like Samuel Morin and Jan Kostalek, Simon is doing a great job, without lighting it up offensively.

Photo: Minas Panagiotakis, Getty Images

Photo: Minas Panagiotakis, Getty Images

According to Michel Germain, radio PBP guy for the Océanic, Bourque brings a lot to the team without piling up the points. As a two-way blueliner, Bourque brings maturity and stability to one of the best defensive units so far this season. The Océanic have allowed only 25 goals in nine games, which represents the lowest total in the QMJHL so far. However, Rimouski has played fewer games than any other team in the league.

“Simon spends the majority of his ice time on the first defensive pair with Guillaume McSween. He plays more than anybody else on the PK and is sometimes the only defenseman on the PP. Even tho he only has four points so far, his contribution goes beyond that and he really fits well in the system established by head coach Serge Beausoleil. He works hard and is very responsible on both ends of the ice. I really wouldn’t be surprised if the team makes him their captain during the season, which is very rare for a 18-year-old in Rimouski”, explains Germain, who also added that the only two other ex-Océanics that have worn the C at this age are Eric Drouin and Marc-Antoine Pouliot.

Concerning his “low” offensive production, the voice of the Nics is not too worried about it and has a good theory to support his opinion.

“Simon’s primary job is to prevent the opponent from scoring, which he is better at than he was last season. His offensive production comes after that. You also have to consider he can’t count on all these highly skilled players that were here last season, like Chris Clapperton, Alexis Loiseau, Fred Gauthier and more, to complete his plays. As an example, a pass that would have turned into a goal for a guy like Clapperton, often ends up in the skates of a younger guy that doesn’t have the same level of offensive skills and awareness”, he says.

Bourque will look to help the Nics continue on their great start of a season. After losing almost all their star players after winning the Presidents Cup last year, the team has a surprising 7-2-0-0 record, good for second place in the East Division, behind the Shawinigan Cataractes.

Follow me on Twitter @CarignanTQN to get the latest news on Habs prospects playing in the QMJHL.

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