Last season, Xavier Ouellet was a young kid on one of major junior hockey’s top contenders. This season, he’s an old veteran on a team rebuilding for the future.
Although the 18-year-old blueliner was already logging his fair share of ice time for the Montreal Juniors, he’s taken it to a new level since the QMJHL team relocated to nearby Blainville-Boisbriand and renamed itself the Armada in the off-season.
Ouellet is the Armada’s captain and its No. 1 defenceman, anchoring both special team units and getting as many minutes as he can handle.
“It’s a great challenge for me,” said Ouellet, who the Detroit Red Wings selected in the second round (48th overall) of last June’s draft. “I just got drafted, and that first year after being drafted is very important for a player. I need to get stronger so I’ll take all year to concentrate on that and work out.”
The six-foot 185-pounder is off to a good start, with four goals and five assists for nine points in 12 games, not to mention 27 penalty minutes and three fights. While he doesn’t have any plans to trade in his smooth, two-way, puck-moving game for an enforcer’s role any time soon, he said it comes with the territory of being a team leader.
“I don’t want to change my game, but I’m older this year,” Ouellet said. “We have a young team, we have to defend ourselves.”
Red Wings scout Mark Leach has already seen Ouellet play several times this season and gave him a glowing review, but did emphasize the importance of strength training.
Ouellet said he got some extra motivation to improve in that area after participating in the Red Wings’ annual prospects tournament and training camp in Traverse City in September.
“I had a good camp, I got good comments from the coaches and the organization,” Ouellet said. “It was a good experience, I loved it. I just want to come back next year — stronger.”
The Armada sat 13th among 17 teams in the QMJHL with a 7-9 record as of Tuesday night.
“We’re young, we’re rebuilding,” Ouellet said. “It’s a challenge. We’re playing to win every game and we’ll see how many wins we’ll have at the end.”
NOTES: Forward Riley Sheahan (Notre Dame, NCAA) got into his first game action of 2011-12 and piled up four assists in two games … Defenseman Richard Nedomlel (Swift Current, WHL) is keeping up his point-per-game clip through 12 games … Defenseman Ben Marshall (Minnesota, NCAA) has a goal and an assist in his first four college games while maintaining a plus-8 rating … Forward Julien Cayer (Clarkson, NCAA) is in his senior year and is down to the wire in his bid for a contract. He’s off to a good start with three goals in four games … Defenseman Brendan Smith (Grand Rapids, AHL) finished serving a suspension and made his 2011-12 debut.
Following is this week’s statistical report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Coetzee, Willie||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||2||0||2||0||-1||7|
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||AHL||3||0||1||1||2||-1||1|
|Nyquist, Gustav||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||3||2||5||0||+1||12|
|Tatar, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||1||1||2||0||-1||14|
|Andersson, Joakim||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||0||3||3||4||0||5|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||AHL||3||0||0||0||2||0||3|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||0||0||0||25||-2||5|
|Ehrhardt, Travis||Grand Rapids||AHL||3||0||0||0||9||-1||5|
|Lashoff, Brian||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||0||0||0||2||-3||2|
|Pare, Francis||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||0||1||1||0||-1||11|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||0||1||1||0||0||7|
|Raedeke, Brent||Grand Rapids||AHL||4||0||0||0||0||0||3|
|Smith, Brendan||Grand Rapids||AHL||1||0||0||0||0||0||2|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||WHL||12||2||10||12||14||-8||N/A|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||OHL||10||2||7||9||9||+4||N/A|
|Jurco, Tomas||Saint John||QMJHL||8||4||4||8||4||+7||25|
|Jensen, Nick||St. Cloud State||NCAA||4||0||1||1||0||+1||2|
|Nicastro, Max||Boston U.||NCAA||3||0||0||0||4||-1||2|
|Sheahan, Riley||Notre Dame||NCAA||2||0||4||4||6||+2||8|
|Marchenko, Alexei||CSKA Moscow||KHL||4||0||0||0||2||-3||2|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT