By Mathieu Bernier
On June 23rd, Chicago hosted the 2017 NHL draft. In acquiring Patrick Eaves last season, Anaheim lost their first pick; they had to be satisfied with 50th and 60th overall picks. Despite this, the Ducks succeeded in finding a way to make people talk about them. In fact, they didn’t only draft two of the five QMJHL players selected in the three first rounds, they also draft two long time friends native from Quebec: Maxime Comtois and Antoine Morand.
Stephane Pilotte, from the Ducks Scouting Staff, and Martin Madden Jr., Director of Scouting, both native from Quebec City, have a good amount of insight into Quebec prospects. Thus, Madden Jr. clearly said their friendship isn’t the reason why they drafted both of them, “We looked at the possible scenarios last Friday and we saw much worse scenarios than this one. We are very happy with these two players, but we did not claim them because they are friends, we claimed them because they were the two best players available on our list.”
Comtois and Morand played together since the age of 13 years old to 16 years old until they were selected in two different QMHJL teams. Comtois has been selected 3rd overall in the QMJHL by Victoriaville Tigre; Morand has been selected 2nd overall by Acadie-Bathurst Titan. They are friends out of the ice but are completely different kinds of players. Here is a comparison of the two guys.
First of all, Comtois (6’2, 200), is a power forward who definitively can play aggressively and made some big hits. He is also a versatile player which means he can play on both special teams as a center and winger. While he made 60 points in 62 games in his Rookie year in the QMJHL with Victoriaville Tigers, he struggled to produce this past season, with a total of 51 points in 64 games. Despite this drop of points, Stephane Pilote stayed confident, “People linger too much on points. It plays even more in the right way than last year. It is reliable and never cheats. Pilotte added, “Robitaille (Tigers coach) has worked hard this season to change the culture of the Tigers and to apply to the defensive game. In another environment, he might have made more points, but he wanted to satisfy his coach. On the numerical advantage, it was also used in front of the net. He made a lot of important passes that did not count on the score sheet.” One thing is sure, Comtois didn’t waste time to train:
Morand is a completely different style of player than Comtois: He is small (5’10, 170), skates well and got a great quickness. For sure, he needs to be stronger physically, but he is a strong puck handler and a great passer. In addition, his hockey sense and playmaking ability make him a unique kind of player; he sees plays that nobody else sees. Morand is also one of those prospects who has progressed well offensively, he made 24 more points in his second season in the QMJHL.(74 points in 67 games.)
One thing is sure, those two guys are really happy to be back together. What happened on June 23 is certainly a dream for them. They exchanged a big hug and both hid their feelings. Morand said, “When I saw that Anaheim had another choice in the second round, I prayed to God that they would choose me. I would never have imagined such a beautiful scenario.” In addition, Comtois said, “It’s been two years since we no longer play together and to find him back, it’s incredible. I was a little bit disappointed not to be drafted in the first round, but I came here to go back with a sweater and an opportunity to show off at an NHL camp.”
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June 29th, 2017