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Coming attractions to a rink near you

Top NHL prospects among crop this season at the Metro Centre


Hal won't be the only draw at this seasons Mooseheads games. Photo by RicLaf via flickr
Hal won't be the only draw this season. Photo by RicLaf via flickr.

Although Halifax plays host to the Mooseheads, the Metro Centre will also welcome top echelon NHL prospects populating the rest of the league’s franchises.

This past June, five QMJHL players were selected in the first round of the NHL entry draft in Minnesota, a vast improvement over 2010 when just a single player had the privilege to land among the top 30.

These are the five first-round draft picks Halifax fans should be on the lookout for this season, unless a few of them find a spot on an NHL roster, of course.

Jonathan Huberdeau, C, Saint John, 3rd pick: The Sea Dogs captured the Memorial Cup in 2011 and should be a lock to repeat if Huberdeau does not make the Florida Panthers out of training camp. Sixteen goals in 19 playoff games capped a giant 105 point regular season. He possesses great speed and deft stick-handling ability, and is sure to be a key cog on the World Junior squad, once again, if he is not suiting up in Miami.

Sean Couturier, C, Drummondville, 8th pick: A polished power forward at 6-foot-4, he is the perfect mold of player to replace the departed Mike Richards in Philadelphia. The youngest member of last year’s Canadian World Junior team, Couturier has posted 96 points in back-to-back seasons. Look for him to hit triple digits this season if he stays in Drummondville, and to have an outside shot at making the Flyers roster out of training camp.

Nathan Beaulieu, D, Saint John, 16th pick: Beaulieu seems to follow the ‘Q’ prototype of producing strong, puck-moving, power play quarterbacks such as Kris Letang of the Penguins. He does, however, lack some prowess on the backend. But at this level of play he can still focus on putting up big offensive numbers. Habs fans should make at least one pilgrimage to see their top pick in-person.

Phillip Danault, LW, Victoriaville, 26th pick: Winner of the Guy Carbonneau Award as the best defensive forward in the league last season, Danault is a rugged two-way forward, similar to fellow Blackhawk Dave Bolland, and had 67 points in 64 games last season. Both have similar statures, but Danault will need to bulk up in order to compete at the NHL level. In his favour, Danault appears to be one of those players whose work ethic will create opportunities where his offensive skill may not.

Zack Phillips, C, Saint John, 28th pick: Drafted near the end of the first round by Minnesota, Phillips will likely be the single greatest beneficiary if the Panthers cut Huberdeau. A cerebral passer and playmaker, he also maintained impeccable discipline while backchecking, accumulating a fantastic plus-48 and just 16 penalty minutes.


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