McKnight: Around the Q – Ehlers, Meier and more

Hockey Prospectus’ QMJHL analyst, David McKnight (@mcknight_david) is back with another seven lucky reports. Included in this installation are three former first round picks, plus one more power forward who might get some consideration for the top ten picks in this June’s draft.

Scouting Report – Nikolaj Ehlers

Bio

Team: Halifax Mooseheads                                         Draft Status: Winnipeg Jets, 9th overall 2014
Position: LW
To date stats: 40 GP – 28 G – 52 A – 80 Pts
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 5’11”/176 lbs

Date(s) seen: February 3 and 17

Opponent: Moncton

Competition Type: QMJHL regular season

 

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)

The first thing you notice about Ehlers is his incredible skating ability.  His speed and quickness makes him a threat every time he’s on the ice.  He has the ability to blow by defenders at any time with his blazing speed on the rush.  His quickness in the offensive zone and ability to turn on a dime makes him very hard for defenders to contain.

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)

Mainly uses a deadly accurate wrist shot to rack up the majority of his goals.  He has a very quick release which can often catch goaltenders off guard.  Also has a high quality backhander that just adds to his already dangerous arsenal.

Puck Skills

Ehlers stickhandling ability is second to none at the junior level.  The fact that he can make spectacular plays with the puck at such a high speed makes him all that much more dangerous.  There’s rarely a game that goes by where he doesn’t do something with the puck that leaves the crowd in awe.

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

Has great hockey sense and makes the players around him better.  Very good vision and unselfishness in setting up teammates on a consistent basis.  Like many junior scoring stars, his defensive game still needs work, but he is often used on the penalty kill and that area of his game will undoubtedly continue to improve.

Physicality

If there’s a knock on Ehlers it’s that he’s not very big and doesn’t play a physical style of game at all.  He will need to put on some more weight to excel at the NHL level.  Don’t mistake his lack of physical play for being timid as he is certainly not afraid to go to the dirty areas of the ice and take the puck hard to the net.

General Assessment

Be it with the Halifax Mooseheads or with Team Denmark at the World Juniors, Ehlers has shown all season long why he came close to sticking with the Winnipeg Jets this season.  Some questioned whether his production last season was due to playing with Jonathan Drouin, but he has continued to pile up the points this season without his former teammate.  The Dashing Dane almost singlehandedly has the Mooseheads within striking distance of home ice in the opening round of the playoffs.

Ehlers will have every opportunity to stick with the Jets next season and could potentially jump right into a top six forward role.  A lot will depend on how much strength he can build up over the off-season.  One way or another he will certainly be making an impact in the NHL in the very near future.

Scouting Report – Timo Meier

Bio

Team: Halifax Mooseheads                                         Draft Status: Eligible 2015
Position: RW
To date stats: 50 GP – 37 G – 39 A – 76 PTS
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6’00”/ 209 lbs

Date(s) seen: February 3 and 17

Opponent: Moncton

Competition Type: QMJHL regular season

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)

Good skater who can get off the mark quickly and has good speed at full flight.  Has the look of a power forward type the way he moves around the ice.  He could stand to improve on his agility as he sometimes looks a bit stiff out on the ice.

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)

Shooting is probably the biggest strength of Meier’s game.  He has a very good wrist shot and slap shot and is certainly not afraid to use either of them.  Gets the puck off his stick incredibly quickly, which makes his shot very dangerous.  He’s a shoot first player and that makes him effective playing on a line with a creative player like Nikolaj Ehlers.

Puck Skills

Has good puck skills with good hands while playing through traffic.  Does an effective job at protecting the puck when driving to the outside around defenders.  For the most part in the offensive zone, the puck is off his stick quickly for a shot.

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

He’s a very smart player in the offensive zone and has the uncanny ability to get himself open for a pass.  He can sometimes be a bit of an adventure in the defensive zone with high risk passes.  Bad turnovers are an issue that will have to be addressed going forward.

Physicality

One of the areas that he’s really improved on from last season is his physical play.  He wasn’t really noticeable in a lot of games last season, but now he’s playing more physical and creating more room for himself on the ice.  Starting to look more like a typical North American power forward type of player.

General Assessment

Meier had a pretty slow start to his North American career last season with the Halifax Mooseheads and didn’t make a huge impact.  He has been revelation this season and has shot up the draft rankings while piling up the points.  He had strong showings at both the World Juniors and Top Prospects Game which has furthered his cause.  The fact that he plays almost every shift with a high level of intensity and aggressiveness is a huge bonus.

There is some question as to whether his point totals this season are strictly because of playing with Ehlers, but he’s had some big names without his line mate throughout the season.

Tier II – His play this season has made him a sure-fire first round pick and he has every opportunity to go between the 10th and 20th selection.  He’s a safe pick in terms of having a lot of pro qualities that make him an almost certain NHL player.  

Partial Scouting Report – Connor Moynihan

Bio

Team: Halifax Mooseheads                                                         Draft Status: Eligible 2015
Position: LW

To date stats: 49 GP – 5 G – 4 A – 9 PTS
Shoots: L

Height/Weight: 6’04”/213 lbs

Date(s) seen: February 3 and 17

Opponent: Moncton

Competition Type: QMJHL regular season

General Assessment

Moynihan would have to be considered a bit of disappointment this season as his offensive game has not improved from his 16-year-old season.    He doesn’t have a great shot and his passing skills are also lacking, which leads to below average offensive skills.

What he does do well is using his size and strength to make plays at both ends of the ice.  He doesn’t shy away from the physical style of game and uses his big body well in that sense.  He also plays a smart game defensively and has a good work ethic in his own zone.

Tier VI – Due to his size there may be a team who takes a chance on him as a project power forward.  There is the potential to be a 4th line player in the NHL who plays a strong defensive game.  Due to the lack of offensive game he may also get passed over completely in the upcoming draft.

Scouting Report – Samuel Morin

Bio

Team: Rimouski Oceanic                                               Draft Status: Philadelphia, 11th overall in 2013
Position: Defenceman
To date stats: 26 GP – 4 G – 19 A – 23 PTS
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6’7”/225 lbs

Date(s) seen: February 5

Opponent: Moncton

Competition Type: QMJHL regular season

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)

Very good skater for a big man.  Uses a long, powerful stride to be able to move around the ice effectively.  There’s always room for improvement, but he doesn’t have the awkwardness you would expect from a player of his size.

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)

Has a very heavy slap shot from the back end, although he doesn’t score many goals.  His offensive game wouldn’t be considered a strength and is an area of his game that he can improve on.  He could stand to use his shot a bit more.

Puck Skills

As was mentioned, his offensive game isn’t a strength, but he still handles the puck quite well and makes good first passes out of the defensive zone.  He’s not someone who will carry the puck up ice very often, although he will pick his spots from time to time.

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

Makes smart plays in the defensive zone and does a good job of staying in position for the most part.  There are times where he can get caught running around a bit against some of the quicker offensive players in the QMJHL.  He can also sometimes get himself into penalty trouble, which is an area of concern.

Physicality

Plays a physical style of game, but sometimes doesn’t use his large frame as much as he can.  When at the top of his game he really uses his size effectively to angle off attacking forwards and close down their time and space.  Once he fills out he will became an even bigger physical force on the blueline.

General Assessment

Morin missed quite a bit of time at the start of the season after suffering a fractured jaw in October.  He made it back in time to be a part of Team Canada’s gold medal winning entry at the World Juniors.  His ice time became limited and by the end of the tournament he was in the role of the team’s seventh defenceman.

His offensive game has seen improvement this year as he currently is averaging just under a point per game.  Nonetheless it will be his physicality and defensive ability that will make a big impact at the NHL level.  He is still a bit of a project that will require some time, but he has every opportunity to be a top-4 NHL defenceman who can move the puck, play physical and take care of business in his own end.

Scouting Report – Frédérik Gauthier

Bio
Team: Rimouski Oceanic                                               Draft Status: Toronto, 21st overall in 2013
Position: Center
To date stats: 31 GP – 14 G – 14 A – 28 PTS
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 6’04”/215 lbs

Date(s) seen: February 5

Opponent: Moncton

Competition Type: QMJHL regular season

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)

Above average skater.  He wouldn’t be considered a speedster, but can go stride for stride with the top players in the league.  His skating ability helps play a role in being a very efficient player at both ends of the ice.

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)

Failed to register a shot in this game, so there was no real opportunity to provide a strong analysis.  He is known as someone who scores the majority of goals in front of the net as a big body presence.

Puck Skills

Strong on the puck and uses his size to protect it well on the cycle.  He’s a good distributor of the puck and manages it well.  His playmaking ability would have to be considered above average and more of a strength than goal scoring.

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

His intelligence is the strongest area of his game.  He has great hockey sense and often does a lot of the little things that will help a team win a hockey game.  His defensive awareness is second to none at the junior level.  Rimouski uses him primarily to shut down the other team’s top line.  These are the tools that have him ready to play a pro style of game.

Physicality

He’s not the most physical player for someone of his size.  He uses his size effectively to protect the puck and win puck battles, but he doesn’t necessarily throw his weight around a lot.  This is an area he will have to improve on in order to be a top shutdown forward in the NHL.

General Assessment

Gauthier is another Oceanic player who missed time early in the season, but was still able to be part of Team Canada at the World Junior.  There he played a defensive role and was one of the top face-off men in the entire tournament.

He has never been a huge offensive star at the junior level and that will likely continue once he gets to the NHL.  His ceiling projects as a big third line center who can play against the other team’s top lines and will take many key face-offs.  His hockey sense and strong defensive play will get him to the NHL sooner than later.  The big question mark is how much offence will he provide?

Scouting Report – Daniel Audette

Bio

Team: Sherbrooke Phoenix                                         Draft Status: Montreal, 147th overall in 2014
Position: Center
To date stats: 50 GP – 25 G – 36 A – 61 PTS
Shoots: L
Height/Weight: 5’09”/188 lbs

Date(s) seen: February 7

Opponent: Moncton

Competition Type: QMJHL regular season

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)

Very good skater who uses his lower body strength to generate a lot of speed.  Not only is he fast, but he’s also extremely quick and has the ability to make a lot of sharp cuts while weaving in and out of traffic.

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)

He has a lethal wrist shot combined with a lightning quick released.  Scored a hat trick in this game and all three goals came off the wrist shot.  Gets the puck off his stick very quickly, which always keeps goaltenders on their toes.

Puck Skills

Excellent stickhandler who can make plays with the puck at top speed.  Despite his size he is also very good at controlling the puck in high traffic areas.  His ability to distribute the puck might be even better than his shot.  Passes the puck very well and makes those around him better.

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

Sees the ice very well and has extremely good vision.  Smart player in the offensive zone, but his play at the defensive end could use improvement.  Needs to improve his defensive positioning and sometimes gets caught cheating on the offensive side of the puck.  To be fair he plays on a young Sherbrooke team who don’t play the strongest defensive game and known more for their offence.

Physicality

Physical play and size are the two biggest knocks on his game.  He will sometimes shy away from the dirty areas of the ice and will need to change that to have a crack at the NHL.  Despite that he’s not a player who easily gets knocked off the puck.

General Assessment

Audette is a top notch offensive player who oozes talent and currently sits second on Sherbrooke in scoring.  His speed, shot and ability to control the puck are all areas of his game that stand out.  He certainly inherited a lot of offensive ability from his father Donald.

We’re seeing more smaller players get a shot in the NHL and Audette may be the next in line.  If he can shore up the defensive side of his game and become a bit more physical, the Habs may have found a steal in the 5th round of the draft as there aren’t many players with his talent.

Scouting Report – Cameron Askew

Bio

Team: Moncton Wildcats                                              Draft Status: Eligible 2015
Position: Center
To date stats: 40 GP – 9 G – 17 A – 26 PTS
Shoots: R
Height/Weight: 6’2”/ 204 lbs

Dates seen: January 8 and 11, vs Saint John & Blainville-Boisbriand respectively. Both QMJHL regular season games

Characteristics

Skating (Speed/edges/technique/etc)

Askew isn’t the quickest guy off the mark, but can move pretty well once he gets in flight.  Sometimes looks awkward and needs to work on foot speed.

Shooting (Slap/wrist/backhand, General strength, proclivities, etc)

He primarily uses a wrist shot and it’s a very heavy shot.  Certainly always dangerous when he gets that shot off from in close.  Has improved on his slapshot and one-timer as the season has gone along.

Puck Skills

His puckhandling ability has really improved over the past couple months.  He looks very comfortable handling the puck and does a good job using his size to protect the puck.

Smarts (vision, defensive play, ability to stick in system, etc.)

Has shown very good vision and puck distribution as his 11 assists in the month of December show.  Has really bought in to the two way game and is now often the first forward back in the defensive zone.

Physicality

Not overly physical for his size and probably an area that he could expand upon.  He has shown that he’s not afraid to drop the gloves if called upon.

General Assessment

Askew got off to a very slow start this season, but has shown great improvement over the past couple months. He looks much more comfortable in all areas of the game and has blossomed into a top six forward on the league leading Wildcats. Consistency and compete level were a big issue early on, but he has seemingly put those problems behind him.

Askew projects as a Tier 4/5 prospect for the 2015 Entry Draft, who would make for a good value selection in the 3rd or 4th rounds. He will be a project for whatever NHL team drafts him, but could potentially be a second line center with good hands and a good shot.

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