Our first set of rankings for the 2024 QMJHL draft are officially live. This time around we have produced a list of 20 players who we feel have had the strongest performances in the early portions of their draft years. These rankings are based on the Quebec and Maritimes U18 AAA league play and also the first phase of the QMJHL Cup which occurred early October. This being our first list I am fairly confident that the order of players will change dramatically as other plays enter the conversation and begin to develop as the season progresses.
At the end of every month leading up to the draft we will be releasing an expanded list of players and rankings adjustments. Here are my thoughts on the top 20 players available for the QMJHL draft thus far.
The Race to First Overall
The decision for first overall wasn’t an easy one, as four players found themselves in the conversation for our top spot.
Shattuck St Mary’s star forward Tynan Lawrence eventually came out on top and holds our number 1 spot for the time being. Lawrence is a dynamic offensive talent who blends above-average processing and intelligence with high-end feet and stickhandling ability. At the time of writing this, he leads Shattuck’s 16U team in scoring despite being one of its youngest players and is a true game breaker in every sense of the word.
Right behind him we have Lac St Lions forward Dylan Rozzi, who has overcome a slow start to the season and now finds himself in the top 10 of QM18AAA scoring. He is a highly astute player with premiere passing ability. He also has a great feel and anticipation for the game, constantly putting himself in good positions to disrupt play or receive passes.
At number 3 we have Aiden O’Donnell of the Steele Subaru, playing in the Nova Scotia U18 AAA league. I’ve been so impressed with his off-puck play in the offensive zone. The way he read and reacts off teammates and his ability to consistently find soft spots in the defensive zone coverage makes him game very projectable for junior hockey.
The last player we considered for the first overall spot was Séminaire St. François Blizzard forward Romain L’Italien, whose scorching start to the season made him impossible to ignore. Coming in at number 4 on our list, L’Italien is a big and rangy centerman with good hands and vision in the offensive zone. He is a menace in front of the net on the powerplay, using his large frame to win positional battles to loose pucks in the crease and showing good hand-eye ability to tip pucks from in close. I expect all these players to make a serious case for first overall throughout the season.
Best Defensemen in the Class
Our first defenseman comes in at number 5 with PEI’s own Jackson Batchilder, who currently plays for the Charlottetown Knights in the New Brunswick-PEI midget AAA league (NBPEIMU18HL). Batchilder had a monster performance at the QMJHL Cup where he was named to the tournament all-star team. His impressive skating ability was what set him apart for me, and although the points haven’t come for him quite yet at the U18 level I believe his tools give him a high offensive ceiling and loads of potential to unlock throughout the year.
Moncton Flyers defender Jacob Gouchie comes in at number 6 and was neck and neck with Batchilder for our top defenseman. At 6’3 and 200 lbs, he is a physical specimen when playing against players in his own age group, dominating all ends of the ice with his size and refined offensive abilities. I expect him to remain a top prospect throughout the year.
A late addition to our list was Bishop Kearney’s defender Cameron Chartrand, who comes in at number 9. He plays the game with tremendous poise and shows great habits in the defensive zone. If he can demonstrate some growth in his offensive game, I don’t see any reason why he couldn’t become the top defender in year’s class.
Lac St Louis and St. François Saturation
Including the aforementioned Rozzi, the Lac St Louis Lions are the team with the most prospects on our list with four. Speedy centerman Amelio Santini finds himself at number 7 after his hot start to the year. He plays in all situations for the Lions and at this point is one of the very best skaters in this draft class. At number 13 we have Ryan Howard who currently leads the Lions in goals. He is a physical forward with a north-south style and a very projectable game. Defenseman Alexandre Taillefer rounds out our Lions prospects by coming in at number 18. He has quickly established himself as one of the better offensive defensemen in Quebec, securing himself some time on the first powerplay unit ahead of some more senior players.
Along with L’Italien, the Blizzard have three prospects that make up our initial top 20. Our 10th ranked prospect Noah Florent is a diminutive yet highly skilled forward who plays alongside L’Italien on the wing. His lethal shot to go along with his quick feet make him a serious offensive threat night in and night out. At number 15 we have defenseman Thomas Morin who is a mobile and effective defenseman for the Blizzard and who has still managed to put up some points despite playing on an extremely talented and crowded Blizzard blueline.
Rounding out the List
Rounding out or top 10 we have Saint John Vito’s forward Isiah Rogerson at number 8. He was named to the QMJHL Cup All-Star Team and is one of the most dynamic players in this class. Another star performer from the QMJHL Cup is Newfoundland native Caylen Blake, currently playing for Mount St. Charles Academy, who finds himself at number 11.
Benjamin Oliver and Ethan Percy, 12th and 14th respectively, are slowly becoming some of my favorite 200-foot players in this class. Oliver plays for Charles-Lemoyne in Quebec where he has been moved up to the first line due to his play. Percy is a physically mature centerman who finds himself among to the leaders in league scoring in the Newfoundland Midget AAA league despite being a rookie.
St Hyacinthe Gaulois forward Niko El Khouri finds himself on this list at number 16 thanks to his incredible offensive tool kit and compete level. His point totals this season may be more indicative of the Gaulois’ place in the standings rather than his on-ice play.
Halifax MacDonald’s forward Aaron Chipp is starting to heat up at the right time for the Macs after his fantastic QMJHL Cup performance that saw him lead the tournament in scoring while earning an all-star bid. His play as of late has put him at number 17 in our rankings.
The final two players on our list are Charles-Lemoyne forward Samuel Boyer and Quinte Red Devils defenseman Mickael Fournier, who come in at 19th and 20th respectively. Boyer is a slight but skilled forward who is able to make difficult plays with his hands and feet in the offensive zone. Fournier is an offensive defenseman who made the move to Ontario for his draft year and is currently clicking around a point per game.
For more detailed analyses and game reports from our top 20 prospects, head over to the 2024 QMJHL Draft Center.