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League's selection process will be in Saint John, N.B., in June
Alex Newhook of St. John’s is ranked fifth overall by Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Central Scouting in advance of the 2017 QMJHL draft next month. However, it’s no sure bet Newhook will play in the ‘Q’ as he is committed to eventually play for Boston College.
Ten Newfoundlanders have heard their names called in the first round of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft, with 2012 being a banner year when two from this province were called amongst the top 18 picks at the draft in Quebec City. Early next month at Harbour Station in Saint John, N.B., that all could change, when as many as three Newfoundland hockey players could go in the first round of the 2017 lottery.
Alex Newhook and Brett Budgell of St. John’s, and Dawson Mercer of Bay Roberts are all ranked as first-rounders according to the final QMJHL Central Scouting rankings released this week.
Newhook leads the group at No. 5, while Mercer is the 12th-ranked player. Budgell comes in at No. 18.
Mark Tobin of St. John’s was the first player from Newfoundland to go in the first round of the draft, eighth overall to Rimouski in 2002.
Prior to Tobin, the highest-drafted Newfoundlander in the QMJHL was Trevor Boland of Logy Bay, who went 19th overall to Verdun in 1988, when 11 players were selected per round.
Tobin’s drafting set in motion a string of six first-round picks in seven years. Ryan Mior of St. John’s went seventh overall in 2003 (P.E.I. Rocket), Wes Welcher of Paradise 14th in 2004 (Moncton Wildcats), Colin Escott of St. John’s third in 2005 (Gatineau Olympiques), Luke Adam of St. John’s seventh in 2006 (St. John’s Fog Devils) and Brandon Hynes of Norris Point third in 2008 (Victoriaville Tigres).
After the Hynes’ selection, it would be another four years before a player from this province was picked in the first round, when Clark Bishop of St. John’s went third overall in 2012 (Cape Breton Screaming Eagles). Cody Donaghey of St. John’s also went in the first round of that draft, 14th overall (Rouyn-Noranda Huskies).
Nathan Noel of St. John’s was also a third overall pick, in 2013 (Saint John Sea Dogs), and Gander’s Jordan Maher went sixth in 2014 (Acadie-Bathurst Titan).
On June 3, each of the 18 QMJHL teams will select players through 14 rounds.
Newhook is the most highly-touted player from Newfoundland since Noel, when the latter enjoyed a couple of stellar seasons with Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in Faribault, Minn.
The sixteen-year-old Newhook is coming off a banner season for the midget AAA York Simcoe Express, which plays in the Eastern AAA league within the Ontario Minor Hockey Association.
Newhook won the league scoring title with 44 goals and 82 points in 40 games, and was named the league’s player of the year.
The former Avalon-Celtics minor hockey star has committed to attending NCAA Division I Boston College in a couple of years time, and is said to be suiting up for the Victoria Grizzlies of the British Columbia Hockey League next season to protect his NCAA eligibility.
The BCHL is where a number of Canadian kids toil prior to attending an NCAA Division I school. Colin Greening of St. John’s skated in the BCHL (Nanaimo Clippers) before heading off to Cornell, and Matthew Kennedy of Mount Pearl suited up for the Grizzlies before he joined DI Arizona State University (Kennedy has since transferred to DIII Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston).
However, depending on which club drafts Newhook, and what ‘offers’ may be laid on, or under, the table, there is a possibility he could still play in the QMJHL next season.
As for Mercer, he led all scorers on the round-robin two weeks ago at the QMJHL Gatorade Excellence Challenge outside Montreal. The event brought to together the top 16-year-old, draft-eligible players from Quebec and Atlantic Canada to play in front of scouts and management of all 18 QMJHL teams.
This past season, Mercer played for Bishops College, a prep school in Sherbrooke, Que., where he finished third in team scoring with 18 goals and 30 assists in 51 games.
Budgell enjoyed a tremendous first year with the London Junior Knights AAA midget squad in Ontario this past season.
He finished second in scoring in the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario association, with 25 goals and 58 points in 32 games. He added five goals and 15 points in the playoffs, helping the Knights reach the OHL Cup provincial championship, where they advanced to the semifinals before bowing out.
Another product of Conception Bay North, Kyle Petten of Coley’s Point, is rated in the second round, 27th overall by QMJHL Central Scouting.
They rate, too
Other ranked Newfoundlanders for the 2017 QMJHL Draft (2016-17 team in brackets):
Brendan McCarthy (East Coast Blizzard major midgets), 79th overall
Drew Bennett (East Coast Blizzard major midgets)
Campbell Clarke (York (Ont.) Simcoe Express)
Jack Keough (East Coast Blizzard major midgets)
Tim Noble (St. John’s Maple Leafs)
Michael Oliver (St. John’s Maple Leafs major midgets)
Mark Rumsey (Rothesay (N.B.) Netherwood School)
Brent Broaders (Central IcePak major midgets)
Logan Brothers (St. John’s Maple Leafs major midgets)
Michael Day (Central IcePak major midgets)
Jacob Evans (Tri-Pen Osprey major midgets)
Brandon Goulds (St. John’s Maple Leafs major midgets)
David Hibbs (Newbridge Academy U18 (N.S.))
Kyle Robinson (Western Kings major midgets)
Regan Seymour (St. John’s Maple Leafs major midgets)