May 31, 2020
There are five good reasons why the Rothesay Netherwood School Riverhawks will keep tabs on next month’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League entry draft.
They are forwards Sam Oliver of Quispamsis, Antoine Roy of Petit-Rocher, Shayne Bjorn of Beaconsfield, Que., Bradley Blake of George’s Point, Newfoundland & Labrador and defenceman Ethan Dollemont of Quispamsis.
The quintet constitute RNS players identified in the QMJHL Central Scouting’s final prospects rankings for this year’s virtual draft June 5-6. While there are no guarantees, the school’s director of hockey operations and head coach calls this crop of student-athletes a good one.
A very, very good one.
“Having five players listed would be one of the larger groups identified from our school in the last seven or eight years,” said Jeff Lewis, noting the Mid-West Prep Hockey League members were 23-17-2-2 overall and closed its season with a 3-2 semifinal loss to eventual national independent schools champion Ridley College Tigers. “We’re fortunate, with the reputation of the school and the program, that we’re able to attract good kids and good families. With the education piece, the boarding piece and the opportunity to get on the ice every day and use the fitness centre … the entire environment, it’s a good opportunity for players who want to work hard to get better and see improvements.”
Oliver leads the rankings parade – he checks in at No. 40 and is followed by Roy (No. 74) and Bjorn (No. 81). Dollemont is projected as a sixth-to-eighth round pick while Blake is projected as a 9th-12th round selection.
“I feel Sam’s going to go a little earlier than that, but that’s just my opinion,” said Lewis. “I’ve had a chance to coach him for a couple of years. He’ll be a great fit in that league, or wherever he chooses to go. Those rankings are arbitrary – every team’s list is a little different, probably outside the top three to five players. It depends on who teams like, how much they’ve seen guys, the interview process and what coaches say about the players. There’s certainly a lot that goes into it.”
Here’s how Lewis breaks down the potential draftees:
Sam Oliver, 25G 19A - 44 PTS: “He’s a smart hockey player – a student of the game. He works at getting better and his physical conditioning is impressive for a 15-year-old. He’s getting more explosive (5’10”, 180 pounds) and his shot is one of his biggest assets. He’s a natural goal-scorer and those are hard to come by these days – it’s one of his ‘wow’ factors.”
Antoine Roy, 12G 22A - 34PTS: “He thinks the game well. He has good size (6’1”, 175 pounds) and is strong, but probably the biggest things are a great awareness of the game, a good stick and being a 200-foot kind-of-player who does well in all three zones. As he gets bigger and stronger, I think he’ll really take off.”
Shayne Bjorn, 9G 13A – 22 PTS: “He’s a rangy (6’2”, 170 pounds) player. When you see 15- year-olds who are power forwards, they still have a lot of muscle to put on. He has a big frame; once he fills out, he’ll play well on the boards and below the goal-line. He also has a good hockey sense.”
Ethan Dollemont, 1G 14A – 15 PTS: “He’s a great skater with puck skills, has a great shot and he’s a strong kid (5’10”, 180 pounds). He’s a defenceman that a lot of ‘Q’ teams think could play in the league at some point, with his high skillset and the way he processes the game.”
Bradley Blake, 12G 14A – 26 PTS: “This is his second time through the draft so I know he’s hoping to get picked. He has a beautiful skating stride, good skillset, good hands, understands the game and he’s been able to continue to grow (5’11”, 180 pounds), get stronger and work on some areas of the game.”
As draft day approaches, such an event will attract equal amounts of excitement and stress for these junior prospects. Lewis’s message is simple, and to the point: “I know players get a little excited about the CSR (Central Scouting Ranking) lists, good or bad. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter where they get drafted – it’s what they do with it.”
Amen to that.
Former managing editor of the Telegraph-Journal