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Sports: Four of Canadiens' nine picks at NHL Draft are from the QMJHL

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After selecting only two players from the QMJHL in the previous five NHL Drafts, the Canadiens picked four of them on Saturday.

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The Canadiens had nine picks overall at this year’s draft.

The Canadiens picked Riley Kidney, a centre with the Acadie-Bathurst Titan in the second round; William Trudeau, a defenceman with the Charlottetown Islanders in the fourth round; Joshua Roy, a right-winger with the Sherbrooke Phoenix in the fifth round; and Xavier Simoneau, a centre with Charlottetown in the sixth round.

“They fell into place,” Canadiens assistant GM Trevor Timmins said when asked why the team drafted so many players from the Quebec junior league. “We were really high on Riley Kidney from Bathurst. We were happy he was still there when we picked late in the second. William Trudeau, got an extensive look at him in the playoffs. Spent a lot of time going back and forth to Quebec City. Joshua Roy, we see the skill that he has. His natural scoring ability and we think with our guidance he’s going to be able to progress his game on and off the ice. And Simoneau has been a personal favourite for the past few years and we just stepped up and took him. Wanted to have a guy on a similar path that worked for us with (Alexander) Harvey-Pinard, trusting a player of that age.”

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Like Simoneau, Harvey-Pinard was 20 years old when the Canadiens selected him in the seventh round of the 2019 NHL Draft. Simoneau is 5-foot-7 and 175 pounds, while Harvey-Pinard is 5-foot-9 and 173 pounds. Harvey-Pinard, a left-winger, had 9-11-20 totals in 36 games this season with the AHL’s Laval Rocket.

The last player the Canadiens drafted from the QMJHL who went on to play in the NHL was Sven Andrighetto, selected in the third round in 2013 from the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies.

Kidney, who if 5-foot-11 and 168 pounds, had 13-25-38 totals in 33 regular-season games this year with the Titan and added 2-15-17 totals in nine playoff games.

“He had a bit of a slow start with Bathurst at the centre-ice position,” Timmins said. “But he really got things moving as the season finally got into full gear. They were on and off and on and off (because of COVID-19) and he really stepped up in the playoffs. An outstanding playoffs and took his game to another level. We had extensive coverage with our scout Serge Boisvert, who was here following him and tracking him while we were in Dallas at the under-18s. Really loved his game. We like his combination of grit, tenacity and hockey sense. He’s able to make plays and kill plays. He plays a 200-foot game.”

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Trudeau has been a late bloomer after being selected by the Drummond Voltigeurs in the 11th round (194th overall) of the 2018 QMJHL Draft before being traded to Charlottetown.

“He just has that uncanny patience with the puck,” Timmins said about the 6-foot, 189-pound defenceman who had 8-23-31 totals in 40 games with the Islanders this season and was plus-34. “We see him being able to help a power play. Has good offensive hockey sense and he’s going to be playing on a good team next year. He had a lot of success this season and we like his ability to move pucks up the ice and that’s what our coaching staffs are looking for at all levels.”

Roy was the No. 1 overall pick by the Saint John Sea Dogs at the 2019 QMJHL Draft after posting 38-50-88 totals in 42 games with the midget Triple-A Lévis Chevaliers. The Sea Dogs traded the 6-foot, 190-pounder to Sherbrooke in January in exchange for three first-round picks and a second-round pick at the QMJHL Draft. Sea Dogs GM Trevor Georgie explained after the trade that Roy had asked for the opportunity to play in a different market.

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“We feel that he’s going to be a late bloomer,” Timmins said about Roy, who had 22-13-35 totals in 35 games this season split between Saint John and Sherbrooke. “He’s got natural ability and I think this summer just really realizing what it takes to be a pro and we really believe in our development staff and our coaching staffs and I think we’re going to be able to help him become a pro and we’re looking forward to working with him and helping to take his natural abilities even further.

“The skill’s there,” Timmins added. “It’s just the conditioning I think was not where it should be in the past. We’ve been following that and monitoring that since he finished up his season and he’s really taken it to another level and really improved his fitness and conditioning. It’s going to help him to be a better skater, to have more stamina to be able to push the envelope, play with more pace.”

Controversial first-round pick

The Canadiens selected defenceman Logan Mailloux with their first-round pick (31st overall).

Mailloux released a statement last Tuesday saying he had renounced himself from the NHL Draft, adding he hadn’t earned the privilege of being selected after secretly photographing an 18-year-old woman engaged in a sexual act with him while in Sweden last year and sharing the picture and her identity with his SK Lejon teammates. Mailloux was charged with defamation and offensive photography in Sweden and was fined approximately US$1,650.

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The Canadiens drafted him anyways.

Mailloux decided to play for the third-division team in Sweden last year after the OHL season was shut down because of COVID-19. In 19 games with SK Lejon, Mailloux had 7-8-15 totals and was minus-14 while accumulating 32 penalty minutes. In 48 games with the Junior B London Nationals in 2019-20, Mailloux had 18-50-68 totals and 94 penalty minutes.

He is expected to play for the OHL’s London Knights next season.

Timmins said the Canadiens were happy Mailloux was still available when they picked 31st.

“You know, he’s a big young man,” Timmins said. “Six-foot-5, 218 pounds, right-shot, D-man. Heck of a shot … point shot. Really good puck skills. Physical. Can play on a power play, can play on a penalty-kill. He’s going to be able to log a lot of ice time and be hard to play against. It fits into that mould that we’ve had with the big four this year (Shea Weber, Ben Chiarot, Jeff Petry and Joel Edmundson) through the season and the playoffs, which really pushed us through the playoffs and got us to the final this year. So we see him as a really good fit … lots and lots of upside and a real solid, two-way defenceman that’s going to be hard to play against.”

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