League Preview: The Telus West
The Telus West Division has the Gatineau Olympiques, they won the President’s Cup last season over the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. The Huskies are also in the Telus West. Don’t expect both teams to be as good as last season. The Olympiques will be without Claude Giroux who has moved on and could be in the NHL this season with the Philadelphia Flyers. They still have Paul Byron who was very good in the 2008 playoffs. How will they do without Head Coach Benoit Groulx? He just left before training camp to join the Rochester Americans of the AHLt o be their head coach.
The Huskies have been trading away talent this summer and it looks like they’re looking towards the future. During training camp, they traded Yannick Riendeau to the Drummondville Voltigeurs. They have also traded goaltender Maxim Gougeon and defenseman Sébastien Piche to the Rimouski Oceanic.
Montreal Junior look like the team to beat in the Telus West this season. Even though some say they traded too much to acquire forward Angelo Esposito but pieces were added in both drafts to offset the cost of Esposito. With two solid goalies, they traded Timo Pielmeier because Jake Allen waiting in the wings. Hopefully the fans will come see the team play.
Val-d’Or is a team on the rise after a rebuilding year last season. They went to the President’s Cup Finals two years ago but were swept by the Lewiston MAINEiacs. The Foreurs started the rebuilding process last season at the December trade period where they traded Brad Marchand to the Halifax Mooseheads. Maxime Sauve came to Val-d’Or in the deal and he will an offensive force. They also got first round selections in the 2011 and 2012 Draft.
2007-2008 Season: 32-30-1-7 (6th in the Atlantic Division)
Off-Season Additions: Angelo Esposito (From Quebec), Vincent Bourgeois (From Quebec), Martin Beca (From Shawinigan), Will Johnson (From Shawinigan), Neil Sherren (From Cape Breton), Benjamin Rubin (From Gatineau), Matthew Brenton (From Moncton), Samuel Fortier (From Shawinigan), Guillaume Asselin (1st Round Pick), Dmitri Kostromitin (Import Selection), and Toni Ritter (Import Section)
Off-Season Subtractions: Jean-Simon Allard (To Quebec), Timo Pielmeier (To Shawinigan), Michael Roski (To Shawinigan), and Olivier Tremblay (To Baie-Comeau)
Players That Aged Out: Wesley Welcher, Phil Mangan, and Mathieu Labrie
Can Esposito have a rebound year? The last two seasons his point production has dropped. He has some talent around him. Luke Adam should have a breakout year. The Buffalo Sabres 2nd round selection in the 2008 Draft had 36 goals and 30 assists in the organization’s final year in St. John’s. Nick Layton should be apart of the offense. Guillaume Asselin had a great preseason with three goals.
T.J. Brennan has been a solid defenseman for the organization. He was a great sign out of their training camp two years ago. Brennan is an all-around defenseman that had 16 goals and 25 assists in 65 contests. Maxime Pomerleau put up some offensive numbers last year with 6 goals and 30 assists. Dmitri Kostromitin, one of their Import selections, is a defenseman. How will his game translate to the North American game?
Jake Allen will be the number one goaltender this season. His numbers don’t standout. He was 9-8-4, with a 3.03 goals against average, and a .905 save percentage. This team will be better and when he’s on a good team, his game steps up.
Prediction: 1st in the Telus West Division
2007-2008 Season: 43-19-6-2 (3rd in the Telus Division)
Off-Season Additions: Alex Lamontagne (From Cape Breton), Marc-Antoine Gelinas (From PEI), Mitchell Porowski (From Drummondville), Yoan Pinette (1st Round Selction), and Jan Stransky (Import Selection)
Off-Season Subtractions: Benjamin Rubin (To Montreal), Michael Stinziani (Cape Breton), and Matthew Pistilli (To Shawinigan)
Players That Aged Out: David Lazenby, Ryan Mior, Joey Ryan, Darryl Smith, and Claude Giroux (NHL/AHL)
Paul Byron will be the offensive go to guy this season as Giroux has moved onto the professional ranks. Byron had 68 points including 37 goals in his sophomore year. He had 32 points during the playoffs including 21 goals. Who will be feeding him the puck? Jean-Philipp Chabot will have a bigger role this season as a 20-year-old. Someone else will have to step up for this team to go deep in the playoffs.
They do have a great defensive core. Steven Delisle and Maxime Mallette are coming back; Delisle had 29 points and Mallette had 26 points. The best of the bunch could be Herbert Labrie, he’s eligible for the 2009 NHL Draft. He was solid as rookie last year and should take on more responsibilities this season.
It will be tough to replace Ryan Mior in net. He was one of the best goalies in the league last year. The Gatineau Olympiques should be in good hands with Maxime Clermont taking over in net. He’s one of the best goalies for his age and will be draft eligible for the 2010 draft. The future looks bright in net for the Olympiques. If Clermont does struggle, they have brought in Marc-Antoine Gelinas as a veteran back-up.
Prediction: 2nd in the Telus West
2007-2008 Season: 27-34-3-6 (8th in the Telus Division)
Off-Season Additions: Yan Bouchard (From Rouyn-Noranda), Jean-Daniel Turgeon (From Chicoutimi), Alexandre Monahan (From Victoriaville), Kyle McNeil, Samuel Morneau (Baie-Comeau), and Cédrick Henley (1st Round Selection),
Off-Season Subtractions: Francis Boulianne (To Chicoutimi), Paul Dorsey (To Victoriaville), Olivier Hinse (To Victoriaville) William Tremblay-Gratton (To Victoriaville), Jesse Cere (To Baie-Comeau), Tommy Samson (To Baie-Comeau), and Joel Senecal (To Acadie-Bathurst)
Players That Aged Out: Marc-Andre Cote, Samuel Richard, and Martin Thibeault
The Foreurs are a team on the rise but I believe they don’t have what it takes to be in second place in this division at the end of the year. Maxime Sauve will have a breakout year this season. He had 26 goals and 39 assists between the Val-d’Or Foreurs and the Quebec Remparts last season. Jonathan Hazen who was a 17-year-old rookie last season had 40 points. He could be the dark horse for this season offensively. They also brought in Alexandre Monahan to add some offensive punch.
Marco Scandella will be coming into his second year and was solid last year. The Minnesota Wild selected him in the second round in the 2008 Draft. Shawn Morton-Boutin, another 18-year-old, should also have a solid season.
In goal, Rafael D’Orso should have a good season. If he puts up respectable numbers this season, the team is looking good a year from now. He had 25 wins last year. His goals against average was 3.18 and his save percentage was .907.
Prediction: 3rd in the Telus Western Division
2007-2008 Season: 47-20-2-1 (1st in the Telus Division)
Off-Season Additions: Jerome Gauthier-Leduc (From Drummondville/1st Round Selection), Kevin Maletto (From Shawinigan), Dominik Bohac, Mathieu Laclair (Baie-Comeau), Benjamin Lacomte (From Quebec), Benoit Gervais (From Rimouski), and Sergey Ostapchuk (Import Selection)
Off-Season Subtractions: Yannick Riendeau (To Drummondville), Maxim Gougeon (To Rimouski), Sébastien Piche (To Rimouski), Olivier Hotte (To Drummondville), Michael Denoncourt (To Shawinigan), Yan Bouchard (To Val-d’Or), Michael Dubec (To Shawinigan)
Players That Aged Out: Jhase Sniderman, Tyler Hawes, Hugo Carpentier, Brett Morrison, Guillaume Lepine, Guillaume Blouin, Ivan Vishnevskiy
Just looking at all the impact players that have left because of trades and/or aged out, it will be a long year this season. Jeff Desjardins will lead the offense. He’s the top returning player; he had 23 goals and 47 assists for 70 points. Maxime Macenauer is another good player, the Anaheim Ducks draft pick had 60 points with 23 goals. Jarrad Struthers looks like a promising player. He had 35 points last season.
They kept rising star Marc-Andre Bourdon. He’s an offensive defenseman with 12 goals and 47 assists in 67 games. The Philadelpia Flyers selected him in the third round in this summer’s NHL Draft. Behind him, there aren’t a lot of players with experience. Benoit Gervais will be productive. How long will he be there? As a 20-year-old, he could be dealt to a contender by midseason.
Milan Pucholt is the only returning goalie. He only appeared in 15 games where he was 9-5-1, with a 3.64 goals against average, and a .864 save percentage. Kevin Maletto should be the starter. The Huskies acquired him from Shawinigan. Last season, he had 25 wins, with a 3.14 goals against average, and a .877 save percentage.
Prediction: 4th in the Telus West
That’s My Take