Central Scouting's mid-season rankings has Xavier Ouellet
(#16) as the 39the best North American skater.
Defenseman Xavier Ouellet was ranked # 39 among North American skaters and right winger Alex Lemieux was ranked # 201.
Ouellet's high rank comes at no surprise. In only his second season with the Juniors Ouellet has exploded offensively with 5 goals, 27 assists for 32 points in 44 games. Although he's only 17 years old and Montreal's youngest defenseman, Ouellet usually plays on the team's 2nd defenseman pairing with 19 year old Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Charles Landry. The two have shared time on the power play this season as well. Ouellet currently sits 6th overall among defenseman point getters. And he's the only '93 born defenseman among the top 40 top scoring d-men.
Ouellet is participating at this week's CHL top prospect's game and skills competition in Toronto. He was assigned to team Bobby Orr therefore we can expect him to return even better than before!
Although Ouellet is ranked 39th among North American skaters, once the European skaters are considered, plus the goalies from both sides of the pond, we should expect Ouellet's overall ranking to land somewhere in the 50s or 60s. Compute that thinking into a 30 team draft and that means Ouellet will likely be drafted either towards the end of the second round or the start of the 3rd.
Could that change? Absolutely. If the Juniors win the QMJHL playoffs and compete in the Memorial Cup, you can bet his stock will go up. That's the added benefit of playing with a championship team. You're viewed as a player that can be a key piece to the championship puzzle.
Lemieux is ranked 201st among NA skaters. That's a tricky place to be. He'll need to pick up his game during the tail end of the season and the playoffs if he wants to be noticed more by the scouts. Again, if you consider the Europeans and goaltenders Lemieux's raking is probably closer to 250th overall. As a young depth forward on strong team, a deep playoff run may help Lemieux even more so than Ouellet.
Lemieux was acquired by the Juniors after having a "falling out" with his previous team, the Halifax Mooseheads. Lemieux started the season on a hot streak and scored 10 points in his first 13 games played. But in his next 26 games, including 5 with Montreal, he's only scored 1 point.
But lemieux brings a valuable element to the table....physical play. Although he's not the biggest player on the team, it sure doesn't show. I've only seen him play a handful of games in the Juniors uniform but I can tell you this; the guy doesn't back down from nobody. He hits everything that moves and is willing to drop the gloves with players who tower over him in height. If there was an NHL comparable I would compare him to Darcy Tucker.
From a league perspective it looks like a strong year for the Q. Six QMJHLers were ranked ahead of Ouellet and were all listed in the top 30 North American skaters list:
#2 Sean Couturier (Drummondville)
#4 Jonathan Huberdeau (Saint John)
#9 Nathan Beaulieau (Saint John)
#12 Zack Philipps (Saint John)
#23 Philip Danault (Victoriaville)
#24 Thomas Jurco (Saint John)
The top ranked North American goalie from the QMJHL was Christopher Gibson (Chicoutimi) at #2 overall.
Photo Credit: Ron Lemish