Drummondville started this 2019-20 season with an absolutely new core. No Veleno, Comtois, Joseph nor Beaudoin. They even traded Dawson Mercer to Chicoutimi at Christmas. Despite all that, the team still finished up the regular season with 74 points, which place them 6th in the QMJHL. An impressive outcome looking at how much rookies they had. Among these rookies, some might even be an interesting bet for the NHL Draft. Here a quick look at four Voltigeurs.
Thimo Nickl: RD / 6’2 / 176lbs (10G – 29A – 39Pts)
Besides Marco Rossi, we can expect another Austrian-born player to get the opportunity to be selected this June. Drafted last summer in the CHL Import Draft, Thimo Nickl has quickly risen as a top defenseman for this rebuilding team. Nickl is a great two-way defenseman who plays a mature game and excels in defensive situations. He rarely causes turnover since he keeps everything simple whenever he is in possession of the puck. Makes a good first pass and chips or dumps the puck when his options become riskier. Nickl really stands out in his own zone and during penalty kill. Anticipates extremely well the incoming play when he defends. Cuts plenty of passes, especially in the neutral zone. However, his ambition to prematurely shut down the rush can get himself and his team in trouble. He will have to gauge better his opportunities to pinch. Lays a lot of strong hits and box out fiercely his man. Good slap shot and he even got some power play time with Drummondville. Although, his skating needs some improvement. He will also have to stop giving up on the play whenever he gets beat. Not the most intense and flashiest guy on the ice but he gets the job done and that’s his role. With a nice third pairing upside, my guess is that Thimo Nickl will no longer be available in the middle of the 3rd round.
William Dufour: RW / 6’2 /198lbs (28G – 27A – 55Pts)
Since joining the Drummondville Voltigeurs, the 6th overall pick in the 2018 QMJHL Draft looks like he finally found his path. Dufour has always been a decent player but unfortunately for him, he played for Rouyn-Noranda and Chicoutimi; two stacked teams that weren’t able to give him a significant role. As for now, he is playing in the top-6 and he is being given power play and penalty kill minutes. The Xavier Simoneau’s right winger has doubled his point per game production since being traded. Dufour is a big and strong guy. He wins his board battles and he always finds a way to get the puck out when he’s in the defensive zone. He possesses a hard wrist shot and capable hands however, he’s clearly not a huge offensive machine. Playmaking isn’t his strength. Though, Dufour is not a terrible skater at all. Good top-end speed but his acceleration is a bit rusty. However, his speed is well enough to catch up guys and effectuate good pressing. I believe that he mostly shines in his positioning and his overall game without the puck. Despite all that, it looks like William Dufour is still searching for his identity in the junior league. Power forward, sniper or two-way guy; this combination of skill could make him a perfect fit to become a legit 4th liner in the NHL.
Jacob Dion: LD / 5’9 / 186lbs (17G – 34A – 51Pts)
The former captain of the successful Magog Cantonniers organization arrived this season and surprised everyone by ending up fifth for the most points by a defenseman with 51 in 63 games. Back in 2018, Dion was drafted as an overage in the QMJHL Draft, just as Jordan Spence. No doubt, his progression has been truly fulgurant. Jacob Dion concentrates his game around the offense. His puck skills are decent and his vision is on point. Dion rarely dumps the puck since he always finds a way to restart the attack in control. His confidence is probably his best attribute. He doesn’t shy to carry the puck and he dares to make risky plays. He makes nice pinch to keep the offense alive and he is able to beat player when he slides on the blue line. On the power play, his shot isn’t a huge threat but he distributes the puck really well. His skating isn’t so good which is pretty concerning for a small defenseman. Physicality is also an issue. Has difficulty to win battles, doesn’t play the body enough and doesn’t do much when someone screen his goalie. Moreover, his game in his own zone isn’t too impressive. Very difficult to project him at the next level…
Kaylen Gauthier: RD / 5’10 / 168lbs (2G – 12A – 14Pts)
Being the son of the ex-NHLer and Drummondville alumni, Denis Gauthier, and cousin of the New York Rangers prospect, Julien Gauthier, it is easy to understand where his great hockey sense comes from. Also played for Magog, Kaylen Gauthier made the jump this season after being a 7th round pick in 2018. Gauthier can be labeled as a defensive defenseman. He is impressively smart and his reading of the game defensively is worthy. He was used a lot on the penalty kill and got a lot of minutes at 5 on 5 due to his reliability. Willing to get dirty, good intensity, surprisingly finds way to win board battle and play the body. He doesn’t seem to be very comfortable controlling the puck. Taking absolutely zero risk, which also leads to miss some easy pass. Huge lack of speed and overall skills. Rely a bit too much on cross check when being physical. His father is 6’2 so maybe Kaylen will gain some inches. Hockey IQ is there but can the rest really follow ?
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