Written for the CHL by Steve Perko of HockeyProspect.com
Heading into the 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, the Rimouski Oceanic already held the all-time record for most QMJHL players participating in the event with 14 over the 17-year history of the showcase.
This year, four more players will be added to the list.
Forward Frederik Gauthier and defenceman Samuel Morin will dress for Team Cherry, while their teammate, defenceman Jan Kostalek, will lace up the skates for Team Orr along with late addition Philippe Desrosiers between the pipes.
Here’s a look at what fans can expect from the Oceanic:
If he was playing baseball, Gauthier would be considered a five-tool player, meaning he can do it all. The 6-foot-4, 219-pound forward has both the size and skill to be an elite player, contributing 45 points in 38 games this season.
“He's willing to go to the dirty areas to score,” said Mark Edwards, Director of Scouting for HockeyProspect.com. “Finding players his size to play down the middle can prove to be difficult which is one reason why we rate him as a 1st round talent.”
Earlier this season, Gauthier suffered a broken jaw and missed two weeks of action.
Since his return, the Oceanic have a 15-4-0-1 record and Gauthier has recorded 25 points and a +8 rating during the streak. He is averaging over a point per game this season and is among the league leaders in plus/minus.
"I really like him as s prospect and see him projecting as a 3rd line NHL centre,” added Edwards. “He is very smart and does all the little things well. He's very good defensively and an excellent PK guy.”
The Rimouski defence, which is one of the best in the QMJHL, has been getting better as we go deeper into the season. One of the main reasons is the development of 17-year-old Samuel Morin and the return of Jan Kostalek to the lineup.
At 6-foot-6, 203 pounds, Morin has scouts drooling over his raw talent. Although he is known as a defensive defenceman, he’s shown some offensive spark in his sophomore season with 14 points and scoring on the power play while recording a couple of multi-point games. Morin also isn’t afraid to throw his weight around or drop the gloves.
"Morin has a long reach that cuts down a lot of space,” said Simon Larouche, Quebec-based Scout for HockeyProspect.com. “He's not afraid to rough it up along the boards. He plays a pretty simple game and has shown good gap control.”
Meanwhile, fellow blueliner Jan Kostalek is proving to be a strong two-way defenceman. Although he is a rookie in the QMJHL, Kostalek has played in several international tournaments for his native Czech Republic and in a handful of games for HC Sparta Praha of the Czech Extraliga.
“His physical game is excellent and he plays the majority of his minutes against the opposing team’s top line,” noted Edwards. “He has proven to be tough to beat one on one and he has shown scouts the ability to be a good body checker.”
“He is a confident puck-mover who is solid in all the skating areas,” said Larouche. “He plays smart hockey in his own zone and handles the physical game well. Kostalek makes good transition plays making smart passes.”
Desrosiers got the call on Monday to pack his bags and head to Halifax in place of the injured Eric Comrie.
With 19 wins for the Oceanic this season, the QMJHL’s top rookie netminder and sixth ranked goaltender by NHL Central Scouting will not be out of place.
Regardless the outcome on Wednesday, Oceanic fans have a lot to cheer about.
The 2013 Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game features 40 of the CHL’s top draft eligible prospects and can be seen live across Canada on Wednesday January 16 at 7:00 pm Eastern on Sportsnet and TVA Sports, and on the NHL Network in the United States.
For more information please visit www.homehardwaretoprospects.ca.