2024 QMJHL Draft Rankings: April Update

Posted on Austin Robson
Chad Lygitsakos (Photo: Maxime Matheu)

One of the busier months of the year for the QMJHL Draft has come to a close. Throughout the last 30 days we were able to take in a ton of hockey that affected the way our rankings shaped up, which included playoff hockey across all four major Eastern Canadian leagues, USA Nationals, the Atlantic U18 Championships and the third and final edition of the QMJHL Cup which ended just a couple of days ago. The vast amount of hockey we saw this month allowed us to expand our list to 110 players, with the hope of getting to 130 before this month’s end. On a personal note, I can honestly say this is the month of confident I’ve felt regarding our rankings since this process began. Of course, there will still be a few tweaks to our list towards draft day, but I feel like I’ve been able to come to a consensus on who belongs in the top group of players in this draft class, particularly who I would classify as first-round talents. With it being my first year taking on such a serious project, I wanted to spend some time at the beginning of this article going over the process in which I go about ranking these players. I fear without the explanation on my end, then our rankings may just look like a random assembly of names piled together and put in numerical order. Our full 2024 QMJHL Draft list can be accessed via the 2024 QMJHL Draft Rankings page.


The Process

If you by no means care about why I rank players the way I do, then please feel free to scroll down to the more analytical part of this article where I talk more in depth about the tangible changes in my rankings. What I hope to do in explaining myself is to have some sort of personal rubric for readers, and even for myself, to go back on and maybe understand why I would have a player higher or lower than consensus.

Ultimately, what I’m looking to gauge for in a player is how well they impact a game given the tools and abilities thy possess. For the most part this ranges for a multitude of players, each bearing different strengths and weaknesses that are completely normal for a 15-year-old hockey player to have. My job is not to say, “Player X does not skate well” or “Player X has bad hands”, but rather it is to locate the strengths of a player and figure out if these will translate to junior hockey. Every kid at this age has weaknesses in their game, that’s just the nature of scouting younger players. To merely point out that a player can’t do something, especially due to his size (shot power, puck protection ability etc.) is, at least to me, an attempt to predict the biology of a player who is right in the middle of the maturation process. The sad truth of the matter is as scouts we can’t predict how a kid will grow or mature in the coming years, so why bother? None of us, or very few, are the same size and weight we were when we were 15 years old. So, to add in your analysis that a kid is unable to perform certain things on the ice due to his lack of strength among other things, for me ranges so hard into the obvious that it bleeds into triviality. This isn’t to say that size doesn’t matter; a 6’3 and 200 lbs defenseman will probably have an easier time defending at the junior level than one who is 5’10 and 150 lbs. However, as scouts we need to ask ourselves does that 5’10 defenseman do anything that the 6’3 defenseman can’t do? How rare are the skills the smaller defenseman possesses? And we need to try and come to a consensus on if they’re translatable to the next level.

But Austin, is there anything in particular or in general that you look for in players? I’m glad you asked. The short answer is ultimately; no. Obviously, I would like for players to be good at everything, to have a good compete level and relentless motor among other things. Sadly, that isn’t the case for almost all players this age. This isn’t to say that I don’t value some traits more than others, but if a player who is a great skater doesn’t seem to be able to use it effectively, then I become more doubtful of his translatability. What I’m ultimately looking for is how a player leverages the ability he possesses in order to impact a game.

Two players that I think are prime examples of this from this year’s class are Dylan Rozzi (5th) and Noah Florent (19th). I had Rozzi at 2nd overall throughout the entirety of the year until the last couple of months, where I thought some players developmental curves got steeper than his. His slight drop in the rankings wasn’t much a knock on Rozzi’s game (although I do believe he could stand to be more consistent) as it was maybe an overcorrection on my part. The skating has stood out to me as an issue throughout the year. As a puck carrier he fails to gain separation from checkers, and he isn’t really able to create time and space for himself using his feet. Despite this, he led his team in scoring with 46 points in 42 games as one of their younger players. His playmaking and ability to process the game a step ahead of his peers allows him to overcome the deficient parts of his game, leveraging the skillsets he does possesses in order to make himself an effective player. It’s this skillset that makes me believe what he does on the ice will translate to the next level. Florent was able to put 43 points in 41 games despite being 5’6 and 130 lbs and not exactly being the quickest guy on his feet. He did this by leveraging his high-end hockey IQ and puck control, which like Rozzi, helped him overcome the size and skating deficiencies. Florent is a player who could make me look incredibly stupid for having him at 19th, or he’s a player who could make look incredibly stupid for having him at 19th, if you get what I’m saying.

The fact of the matter, and my ultimate point in all of this, is that I’m looking for how players maximize the skillsets they’ve been given as athletes. If we, as scouts, spend too long chastising a player on what he can’t do, we may very well miss out on what he can do.


New Faces in the Top 5

The first thing you might notice in our updated rankings is that two players have might quite a meteoric rise this month, namely Alexandre Taillefer and Chad Lygitsakos. Taillefer has been creeping around the upper echelon of my rankings throughout the whole year, but his play this month in the playoffs and at the QMJHL Cup (where his nomination to the tournament all-star team really solidified himself, for me, as an elite prospect for this draft.) The production may not jump out at you on first glance, but he possesses all the tools to be a very good offensive leaning defenseman at the next level. Lygitsaksos’ rise can largely be attributed to what was a dominant playoff performance, where he accumulated 24 points in 15 games en route to a finals appearance for Trois-Rivières. He is the most dynamic talent at the forward position in this class, which is why we now see him at #3 on our board.


High Risers

A pair of Lévis players saw the biggest upgrade on our list in Brandon Delarosbil (16th) and Justin Thibault (17th), who both put together great showings at the QMJHL Cup. While he may not put up gaudy point totals, Delarosbil is a smooth-skating defenseman who thrives in transition thanks to his fantastic skating ability and strong puck-moving abilities. Thibault missed some time with injury at the beginning of the year, but really came on during the latter half of the year and showed quite well at the QMJHL Cup, demonstrating his strong shooting ability and compete level.

Simon-Xavier Cyr made the jump all the way to 24th on our board after being in the 40s range the last couple of months. He’s shown an effective offensive element to his game at the Telus Cup which I hadn’t seen much throughout the year, making me more of a believer in his translatability to the next level as a competitive two-way centerman.

Louis-Félix Bourque’s performance at the QMJHL Cup, which earned him a spot on the tournament all-star team, saw him go from the 90 range to 55th on our board. The Séminaire St-François forward flashed some serious speed in conjunction with his large frame, often beating defenders wide, dipping his shoulder and creating chances by driving to the net.

Emile-Alexandro Lemieux-Goupil also saw his stock rise after a strong showing at the QMJHL Cup, jumping from the 80s range to 56th on our board. He’s a big defenseman with a strong shot from the point who’s not afraid to chip in offensively when he has to. He was defending physically in the defensive zone, using his size to lean on attackers and come out on top in puck battles.


New Additions

The recently held QMJHL Cup allowed us to see a plethora of players who we weren’t able to get a whole lot of viewings for due to the leagues they played in. Zachary Roussy from Bishop’s College is our highest new addition to our board, coming at 51st. He’s a strong puck-moving defenseman who flashes some deception at the offensive blueline and who is able to get pucks through traffic and on net.

Michel Myloserdnyy was the talk of the town at the QMJHL Cup, as the 6’6 205 lbs defender showcased an intriguing offensive toolkit for a player his size. He starts off at 52nd on our list, but he’s a player who definitely has the chance to rise higher up on our board as I go back and review some film on his season.

Coming in at 58th on our board Anthony Dontigny is a player who began the year playing the M17 circuit in Québec, but whose progression ultimately earned him a roster spot on Trois-Rivières where he was a big part of their deep playoff run. His speed is a major part of his game and he uses it very effectively to apply pressure all around the ice and win races to loose pucks. He’s definitely a player who I could see having a very successful year at the M18 level next year before making the jump to junior hockey in the next couple of years or so.

For more detailed scouting and game reports on each player in our top 110, you can visit the QMJHL Draft Center.

Austin Robson