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 Moncton Wildcats

Round 1 of 2024 QMJHL Draft Begins on Historical Note

June 8, 2024 - Quebec Maritimes Junior Hockey League (QMJHL)
Moncton Wildcats News Release

The latest group of future junior hockey stars were welcomed to the league this evening in Moncton, NB as the circuit completed the first round of the 2024 QMJHL Draft.

Prior to the start of the draft, a special presentation was held for Saguenéens Head Coach Yanick Jean, who recorded his 590th victory last season to become the all-time leader in wins by a QMJHL Head Coach. Additionally, Chicoutimi Saguenéens center Alexis Morin, who recently completed his overage season after a four-year career with the Sags and Drummondville Voltigeurs, was awarded the Marcel-Robert Trophy as QMJHL Scholastic Player of the Year. The regular season MVP, Mathieu Cataford, was also honored by receiving the Michel-Brière Trophy prior to the draft. Cataford would be dealt from the Halifax Mooseheads to the 2025 Memorial Cup host Rimouski Océanic shortly after the presentation.

As soon as Commissioner Mario Cecchini announced the Draft open, history began to unfold as, for the first time since 2010, the first overall selection was traded on the draft floor. After the Cape Breton Eagles moved the pick to Quebec, the Remparts made even more history by selecting center Maddox Dagenais. In 35 games with the Quinte Red Devils of the U-16 AAA ranks, the Blainville, Quebec native posted an eye-popping 42 goals and 81 points. His offensive wizardry runs in the family as his father, Pierre, was a sniper in the 'Q' during the 1990's. This duo becomes the first father-son combination to be selected first overall in the history of the QMJHL Draft. Pierre was picked by the Moncton Alpines in 1995.

The Val-d'Or Foreurs, who selected first overall the last time the draft was held in Moncton back in 2009, strode to the podium to announce this year's second overall selection, defenseman Benjamin Cossette-Ayotte. With the Trois-Rivières Estacades last year, the Trois-Rivières, Quebec rearguard progressed dramatically in all zones, using his developing sense of anticipation and control to post 33 points, including 32 assists, in 35 contests.

The Shawinigan Cataractes made it back-to-back selections out of the Estacades organization by choosing forward Chad Lygitsakos third overall. A second-half surge put many scouts on notice as the strong skating, highly competitive Lygitsakos registered 41 points, including 13 goals, in 42 games.

The Cape Breton Eagles then took their newly-acquired fourth overall selection to pick center Romain Litalien of the Séminaire St-Francois Blizzard. A robust 6'1", 175 lbs, the two-way threat recorded 30 points in 32 games and was a mainstay on the Blizzard power play during the postseason.

The Saint John Sea Dogs arrived on the stage for pick number five and promptly nabbed forward William Yared from the Lac-St-Louis Lions. Considered one of the most complete players available, the Mont-Royal, Quebec native parlayed tremendous vision and playmaking skills into a point-per-game campaign in the U-18 AAA ranks, scoring 42 points in 41 games.

Former Moncton Wildcats GM Ritchie Thibeau made his way to the stage to make his first selection as the newly-minted Assistant GM of the Chicoutimi Saguenéens. With that sixth overall selection, the Sags welcomed forward Jayden Plouffe to the organization. Arguably the most explosive and entertaining forward in the 2024 draft class, Plouffe recorded 46 points in 42 games and was a crowd-pleaser with the Collège Esther-Blondin Phénix.

The Victoriaville Tigres made it a hat trick of Trois-Rivières products by choosing forward Enzo Lottin with pick number seven. Lottin showed a strong progression in all zones in the postseason. A player who knows how to handle the puck, be it with a well-executed pass or fantastic wrist shot, Lottin posted 37 points in 41 games with the Estacades.

The Sea Dogs were the first club to approach the podium for the second time on the evening and invested that pick in Lac-St-Louis Lions forward Dylan Rozzi. It was easy to see what the Dogs saw in Rozzi because, frankly, he seemed to see everything on the ice last season. That combination of vision and playmaking abilities led the Kirkland, Quebec product to a 46-point campaign in 2023-24.

The New Brunswick theme continued with pick number nine and the Acadie-Bathurst Titan, who chose Biagio Jr. Daniele. With the Laval-Montreal Rousseau Royal last season, the 5'10" rearguard recorded 19 points in 42 games but his was a game that went beyond the numbers. A tremendous one-on-one defender, his transitional skills were among the best of all prospects in the draft.

The Chicoutimi Saguenéens broke the streak of Quebec-born players selected in the draft by choosing Tynan Lawrence tenth overall. With Shattuck-St. Mary's last season, this elite talent recorded 49 points in 50 games and has all the earmarks of an impact player from the onset.

The Rimouski Océanic made the second transaction of the evening by dealing the 11th overall pick to the Halifax Mooseheads as part of a package the sent the aforementioned Cataford to the Océanic. The Mooseheads then stepped up and choose Halifax Macs forward Daniel Walters. The second-highest ranked Nova Scotian in the draft, Walters combined high end skill with a rugged persona to deliver 27 points in 29 games.

The Gatineau Olympiques kept things local at pick number 12 by choosing hometown boy Maxim Dubé. A complete center with a strong skating stride, Dubé has spent several seasons out of province, most recently with the Long Island Gulls, where he produced 90 points in 68 games.

With the 13th selection, the Sherbrooke Phoenix grabbed Thomas Rousseau of the St-Eustache Vikings. A QMJHL Cup All-Star this spring, Rousseau possesses tremendous hockey sense, leadership and intelligence, attributes which led him to a 24-point output over 41 games in 2023-24.

It was a quick return to the podium for the Gatineau Olympiques, who chose Simon-Xavier Cyr with the 14th pick. One of the most intense players available in the draft, Cyr's game transcends the 13 points in 42 games he posted last season. With a combination of competitiveness, leadership and discipline, the Sherbrooke, Quebec native led his squad to the 2024 Telus Cup national U-18 AAA Championship.

With their second pick of round one, the Shawinigan Cataractes made Louis-Félix Gagnon the 15th pick of the evening. The third defenseman to hear his name called, Gagnon was yet another player who made heads turn as the season progressed, saving some of his best hockey after the calendar turned to 2024. A solid skater with poise, his efforts resulted in a 17-point campaign with the Séminaire St-Francois Blizzard.

A deal between Quebec and Val-d'Or resulted in back-to-back picks for the Foreurs at 16 and 17. The organization brought the house down with the first of those picks when they welcomed Moncton's own Jacob Gouchie. A powerful 6', 202 lbs. defenseman, Gouchie's heavy game was a catalyst for the U-18 AAA Flyers. One of the top Maritime prospects in the draft, Gouchie posted 17 points in 35 games in 2023-24.

The second of back-to-back Foreurs selections was Benjamin Olivier of the Collège Charles-Lemoyne Riverains. Used in all situations and with a relentless competitive nature, Olivier posted 30 points in 42 games with the Riverains while fulfilling a critical leadership component.

Acadie-Bathurst selected 18th overall and brought PEI to the party in the process by picking Kensington Wild forward Liam Arsenault. A native of Cornwall, PEI, Arsenault was visible virtually every time he took to the ice, much to the chagrin of his opponents. Combining his abrasive style with tremendous skill, Arsenault posted 44 points in 33 games for a Wild club that captured a NB/PEI U-18 MAAA title last season.

The 19th selection, previously dealt to Acadie-Bathurst from Baie-Comeau, went on a further tour of the league, being flipped first to the Rimouski Océanic, then the Saint John Sea Dogs. Back on stage for the third time, the Dogs proceeded to select Cameron Chartrand of the Bishop Kearney Selects 15's. A right-shot defenseman who thrives in key game situations, Chartrand posted 33 points in 61 games while also representing Canada at the Youth Olympic Games in January.

The Gatineau Olympiques closed out round one by choosing Séminaire St-Francois Blizzard forward Noah Florent at pick number 20. A power play specialist, Florent used his quick hands and tremendous passing abilities to rack up 43 points, including 26 assists, in 41 games last season.

Rounds 2-14 of the 2024 QMJHL Draft will be available live via CHL TV and Eastlink tomorrow, starting at 8:30am ET/9:30am AT.

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