Yesterday NHL Central Scouting released their 2010 Fall Rankings for the 2011 NHL entry draft and Xavier Ouellet (seen in photo) ranked high on the QMJHL list as expected.
Ouellet, an offensive puck moving defenseman, is playing in his second season with the Montreal Juniors.
At 17 years old Ouellet is Montreal's youngest blue liner. Despite his youth, Ouellet is currently leading the Juniors' defense corps in terms of offensive production with 2 goals and 19 assists for 21 points in 23 games played. Ouellet also boasts a plus/minus rating of +8.
He has already surpassed his output of last season when he recorded 2 goals and 14 assists for 16 points in 43 games played. Note that last year Ouellet suffered a broken wrist early in the year which delayed his progress.
This past summer Ouellet represented Canada at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament as a member of Canada's National Under-18 Team. Canada won gold beating Team USA in the final.
Just last week Ouellet had the opportunity to represent Team QMJHL and play against Russia's Under-20 Team for games 1 and 2 of the Subway Series. Participating in the event gave Ouellet yet another opportunity to demonstrate his skill set to Team Canada scouts. His chances of making Canada's Under-20 team this winter are extremely slim however, should his game continue to evolve, don't be surprised to see Ouellet represent Canada at either the 2012 or 2013 tournaments.
Ouellet is known best for his puck handling abilities. He possesses a sound transition game and is consistent in making sharp outlet passes when breaking out of his own zone. From time to time he will rush the puck up the ice and lead Montreal's attack. Ouellet is capable of quarterbacking the power play and makes good decisions in terms of knowing when to pass versus taking the shot.
Although Ouellet does not appear to be the smoothest skater, you can see the improvement in his skating compared to last season. It looks as though he has worked on the power he generates from his stride. He may still be growing into his body as well which may play into the "smooth" factor. His defensive play and positioning is rather sound. Ouellet covers his man well in his own zone, uses his body well in the corner and is smart with his stick. With NHL Central Scouting Ouellet is listed at 5'11.5" and 182 lbs. With the QMJHL he is listed as 6'1" and 177 lbs (I believe this to be more accurate).
Ranked at number 7 in the Q, Ouellet has a shot to be drafted in the 1st round but is more likely to be selected in the 2nd round. I'm basing this comment mainly on the trend we witnessed during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft when it became a trend for teams to place less of a priority on drafting defensemen (ie: Fowler & Gormely fell about 8-10 positions at the draft).
I've listed the top QMJHL ranked players (see below). Sean Couturier deserves to be ranked #1 and is probably the #1 ranked player in the world right now. I'm a bit surprised to see Tomas Jurco listed behind Olivier Archambeault. I've seen the two play a number of times and in terms of NHL potential I'd give the nod to Jurco, hands down. Another surprising find was seeing Zack Phillips ranked down at number 11. I would've expected to see him much higher as well especially considering his teammates (Oke and Tesink) are ranked above him. I saw Phillips play last week for team QMJHL and would argue that he was one of the team's better forwards and fierce competitors. Here's the list:
NHL Central Scouting - 2010 Fall Rankings for 2011 NHL Entry Draft - (QMJHL only):
1- Sean Couturier, Drummondville
2- Jonathan Huberdeau, Saint John
3- Nathan Beaulieu, Saint John
4- Phillip Danault, Victoriaville
5- Olivier Archambault, Val d'Or
6- Tomas Jurco, Saint John
7- Xavier Ouellet, Montreal
8- Maximilien Le Sieur, Shawinigan
9- Scott Oke, Saint John
10- Ryan Tesink, Saint John
11- Zack Phillips, Saint John
12- Jean-Francois LeBlanc, Val d'Or
13- Jonathan Racine, Shawinigan
14- Brent Andrews, Halifax
15- Yannick Veilleux, Shawinigan
16- Guillaume Cloutier, Saint John
17- Logan Shaw, Cape Breton
18- Samuel Henley, Lewiston
19- Gabriel Beaupre, Val d'Or
20- Sean Girard, Rouyn-Noranda
21- Josh Currie, PEI
22- Stephen Woodworth, Cape Breton
23- Axel Rioux, Quebec
24- Olivier Daoust, Moncton
25- Olivier Jodoin, Cape Breton
1- Christopher Gibson, Chicoutimi
2- David Honzik, Victoriaville
3- Maxime Lagace, PEI
4- Andrei Makarov, Lewiston
5- Jeffrey Noonan, Rouyn-Noranda