Opinion: The Daniel Audette case
Don’t worry, this isn’t a story on the transformation of a young centre in his second season in the QMJHL. Chances are good that you have already read one of the many articles on the subject published since November.
What interests me is the NHL draft and more specifically Daniel Audette’s projected ranking.
An article by Stéphane Leroux surprised me this week by ranking the Sherbrooke Phoenix forward in the eighth position of the QMJHL’s top talents for the next draft, according to NHL scouts.
If we can understand the presence of Halifax’s Nikolaj Ehlers, Moncton’s Ivan Barbashev, Baie-Comeau’s Alexis Vanier and arguably Gatineau’s Vaclav Karabacek in front of Audette, it’s a little harder to explain that Francis Perron (47 points), Clark Bishop (27 points) and Emil Aronsson (25 points) all get a better ranking than Audette.
Without taking away any credit to Perron, Bishop and Aronsson, we can’t say that they distinguished themselves a lot this season –at least, in my opinion – while Audette clearly did. Proof is that he’s actually 12th in league scoring and he added several strings to his bow when compared to when he made his QMHJL debut. He improved greatly in the defensive zone and brings some important leadership.
However, these three players have an advantage over Audette: size.
Let’s take the example of Sven Andrighetto (5-9, same size as Audette) to make a comparison. The young Swiss had been ignored by the 30 NHL teams following his rookie season (it should be mentioned however that this was the year of his 18th birthday, so a year older than Audette is this year) in which he scored 36 goals and 38 assists for 74 points with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. He scored 98 points the following year to finally be drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the third round last summer.
Is this what is going to happen to Audette? “Sorry kid, you’re very good, but we’ll wait before we draft you. Anyways, we know that you will still be available.”
Size is important and I understand its importance with 82 games per season and very long playoffs, but I am not convinced that this is enough of a good reason to ignore a natural talent like Daniel Audette has.
***Translated from an article written by Simon Roberge from Estrie Plus. Original article (in French):
Photo credit: Vincent Lévesque Rousseau, Sherbrooke Phoenix