Anaheim DucksArizona CoyotesBoston BruinsBuffalo SabresCalgary FlamesCarolina HurricanesChicago BlackhawksColorado AvalancheColumbus Blue JacketsDallas StarsDetroit Red WingsEdmonton OilersFlorida PanthersLos Angeles KingsMinnesota WildMontréal CanadiensNashville PredatorsNew Jersey DevilsNew York IslandersNew York RangersOttawa SenatorsPhiladelphia FlyersPittsburgh PenguinsSt Louis BluesSan Jose SharksSeattle KrakenTampa Bay LightningToronto Maple LeafsVancouver CanucksVegas Golden KnightsWashington CapitalsWinnipeg Jets

2014 NHL Draft: Young Tigres Samuel Blais, Jan Mandat, and Gabriel Gagne boost playoff fortunes

The Victoriaville Tigres have had their fair share of injuries at the start of the season but with what is now close to a full roster, they are starting to make a lot of noise and are a team to watch heading into the QJMHL playoffs. Currently sitting in 11th place, having secured their post-season spot, they boast one of the tightest defences with the 6th lowest goals against in the QMJHL.

Rick Springhetti of McKeen’s hockey profiles a trio of youngsters that have been solid contributors.

Blais, Samuel_201314Samuel Blais, (2013 - undrafted), LW, Victoriaville

Youngster was called-up from his midget AAA team at the end of October and has secured himself a spot on the team playing top 9 minutes .. not a very fluid skater but one who keeps his feet moving at all times .. handles the puck very well in tight spaces and at top speeds .. displays solid passing abilities on either side and can usually get it to a teammate when in movement .. not very aggressive in nature in terms of his physical game .. tends to think pass first so he does miss out on scoring chances .. still trying to figure out the defensive game and is slow to react .. starts running around when play breaks down in his zone .. needs to develop physically as he’s started to show some signs of fatigue in recent games and his production has suffered a little .. overall, has done well for the Tigres for a player who is just starting his QMJHL career.

Mandat, Jan_201314Jan Mandat, (2013 – undrafted) C, Victoriaville

Drafted 23rd overall at the 2013 CHL import draft coming from the Czech Republic .. cerebral forward who makes smart decisions in all areas of the ice .. not a very quick skater, in particular his first few steps will need to improve .. passing game can be predictable with his habit of one timing a pass although he usually gets it to his teammates safely .. missing the creativity to be a full-time threat offensively ..  displays a very good commitment to the defensive game and won’t leave his team in trouble before moving out of his zone .. plays his man conservatively giving them some room to move but usually manages to the sides .. face-off game needs to improve a good deal as he is currently at around 43% winning percentage .. a keen sense of anticipation, he understands how to stay open in the offensive zone making himself a good target for a scoring chance .. improving his upper body strength would help his shot and the possibility to capitalize on second chances.

Gagne, Gabriel_201314Gabriel Gagne, (2014), RW, Victoriaville

Acquired from Moncton as part of the Philippe Danault trade last season .. big forward has become an important part of the Tigres offence .. has a long skating stride that affects his ability to gain speed quickly but makes him difficult to containt once he hits his full stride .. turns are very wide .. keeps his body a little low which helps his balance .. uses his frame well near the crease to gain body position and protect the puck .. possesses an excellent shot on net both in terms of velocity and aim .. tends to try to barrel through the crease for scoring opportunity but may want to try to work on his anticipation so he can better use his shots .. passing game is simple and low risk but not very imaginative .. gives a solid effort defensively and backchecks diligently but tends to chase the puck ..also rushes his decisions leading to dangerous situations .. has begun to display a more aggressive nature that will help him gain the extra space he needs to be even more dangerous offensively .. raw prospect who should have scouts talking next season.