Xavier Ouellet is making a strong case to play for Team Canada at the IIHF world junior championship in Ufa, Russia.
The 19-year-old Blainville Boisbriand Armada captain is off to a tremendous start in the QMJHL this season, third among all defensemen with three goals and 16 assists for 19 points along with a plus-9 rating in 19 games.
On top of that, he made a huge impression on Canada’s blue line during the Canada-Russia Challenge in August and was one of the QMJHL’s best players in Monday’s Subway Super Series contest with a goal and an assist in a 6-2 loss to Russia.
Although the QMJHL traditionally hasn’t put many players on Canada’s world junior team, Ouellet is as good a bet as anybody.
“He’s a step ahead of any other defenseman in his league,” said Red Wings director of player development Jiri Fischer. “He’s got a good chance to be invited to the Team Canada camp (in December) and has a good chance to make the team going to Ufa.”
The six-foot-one, 190-pound Ouellet, taken by the Red Wings in the second round, 48th overall, in the 2011 draft, was a finalist for the QMJHL’s top defenceman award last season and is in his second year as the Armada’s captain.
Although the Red Wings consider Ouellet more of a two-way defenseman, he’s become a lethal offensive threat at the major junior level with improved skating, good puck-moving ability and hard shot. He leads all defensemen in the QMJHL with 72 shots.
What has impressed Fischer the most is how Ouellet has steadily gotten stronger, faster and better since being drafted.
“To me, that’s the best quality a player can have,” Fischer said. “Staying hungry, never being satisfied, and finding a way to get better at the level you’re at. That’s our philosophy in Detroit. Guys have to dominate to move on.”
Blainville-Boisbriand is second in the QMJHL and ranked fifth in the Canadian Hockey League with a 13-5-2 record.
NOTES: Goaltender Petr Mrazek (Grand Rapids, AHL) allowed just two goals on 61 shots in his first two starts with the Griffins and could be in the AHL to stay if he keeps it up … Forwards Tomas Tatar and Gustav Nyquist (Grand Rapids, AHL) are averaging a point per game or more through 10 games … Forwards Landon Ferraro and Trevor Parkes (Grand Rapids, AHL) are off to good starts as sophomores with seven and five points through 10 games, respectively … Forward Martin Frk (Halifax, QMJHL) is coming off a couple of good offensive games, but also took a penalty on Sunday that his coach, Dominique Ducharme, called “stupid” and “a bad two,” costing his team a game-changing goal and ultimately dashing a potential 15-game winning streak … Forward Alan Quine (Peterborough, OHL) returned from mononucleosis this week and had three goals and an assist in four games.
Following is this week’s statistical report.
SKATERS: REGULAR-SEASON REPORT
|Ferraro, Landon||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||10||3||4||7||8||0||19|
|Andersson, Joakim||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||9||2||2||4||14||-1||22|
|Parkes, Trevor||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||10||3||2||5||9||+1||12|
|Lashoff, Brian||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||9||0||2||2||0||-2||9|
|Nyquist, Gustav||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||10||5||6||11||4||+6||34|
|Smith, Brendan||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||10||1||4||5||6||+3||23|
|Tatar, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||10||4||6||10||6||+5||31|
|Almqvist, Adam||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||7||2||2||4||4||-2||7|
|Nicastro, Max||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||2||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Raedeke, Brent||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||7||1||3||4||4||+1||4|
|Sheahan, Riley||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||8||0||1||1||2||-1||7|
|Aubry, Louis-Marc||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||10||1||1||2||6||-1||12|
|Callahan, Mitchell||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||7||0||1||1||13||0||2|
|Jurco, Tomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||10||1||1||2||2||-3||8|
|Fournier, Gleason||Grand Rapids||AHL||PRO||2||0||0||0||4||0||1|
|Jensen, Nick||St. Cloud State||WCHA||NCAA||8||0||8||8||4||-2||15|
|De Haas, James||Penticton||USHL/JR-A||BCHL||17||3||7||10||6||0||–|
|Sproul, Ryan||Sault Ste. Marie||CHL||OHL||7||1||8||9||12||+5||–|
|Nedomlel, Richard||Swift Current||CHL||WHL||20||0||9||9||38||-5||–|
|Marchenko, Alexei||CSKA Moscow||EUR||KHL||21||4||2||6||4||+3||15|
GOALIES: REGULAR SEASON REPORT
|McCollum, Thomas||Grand Rapids||AHL||5||2||2||1||0||3.11||.887|
|Pearce, Jordan||Grand Rapids||AHL||3||0||3||0||0||4.38||.847|
|Mrazek, Petr||Grand Rapids||AHL||2||2||0||0||0||0.96||.967|