Quebec Remparts centre Jesse Sutton of Mount Pearl missed almost all of his rookie QMJHL season with injury and 27 more games in the last two years, so staying healthy will be one of Sutton’s main goals in the new campaign.
©File photo/Quebec Remparts/Jonathan Roy
Besides Bay Roberts natives Dawson Mercer, and Zack Bennett (Drummondville) and Kyle Petten (Halifax), here are more players from Newfoundland and Labrador on QMJHL opening-day rosters:
Acadie-Bathurst Titan — Gander’s Jordan Maher had 19 goals for the Titan last season and the 19-year-old centre will be counted on for more this time around. Defenceman Adam Holwell of St. John’s is back as an overager.
Cape Breton Screaming Eagles — Forward Kyle McGrath of St. John’s appeared in five games for the Screaming Eagles last season after Cape Breton acquired his rights in a trade with Charlottetown. But McGrath played primarily in the NL major midget loop, finishing fifth in scoring.
Charlottetown Islanders — Forward Matthew Grouchy of Labrador City, who had a solid rookie season with the Islanders in 2016-17, is the only native of the Big Land in the QMJHL.
Halifax Mooseheads — Holdover forward Joel Bishop of St. John’s joins Petten on the Mooseheads. This is Bishop’s third season in Halifax, and he needs a breakout year after slipping to three goals last season from six in his rookie campaign.
Quebec Remparts — Centre Jesse Sutton of Mount Pearl, who has been plagued by injuries, begins his third season in Quebec. Defenceman Andrew Picco of Marystown is one of three 20-year-olds to make the team. Picco was traded to Quebec from Rimouski last season, after spending some time in the Maritime junior league.
Shawinigan Cataractes — Lucas Fitzpatrick, a St. John’s native who now lists Lower Sackville, N.S. as his residence, will be a rookie goalie with the Cataractes, who acquired the 17-year-old’s rights in a January trade with the Quebec Remparts. Fitzpatrick was a second-round draft pick of Quebec in 2016.
Sherbrooke Phoenix — Lucas Fitzpatrick almost certainly won’t be the only member of his family between the pipes for a QMJHL team this season. When, as expected, the NHL’s St. Louis Blues return 19-year-old Evan Fitzpatrick, Lucas’s older brother, to junior hockey, the Phoenix will be relying on the big netminder to put up big numbers in the goals-against and save percentage department.
A couple of highly-touted QMJHL draft picks in June are playing junior A hockey in the British Columbia Hockey League this season.
Brett Budgell of St. John’s, who finished second in scoring in Ontario midget hockey with 25 goals and 58 points in 32 games for the London Junior Knights AAA squad, will play for the Chilliwack Chiefs this season.
Budgell was selected in the second round, 41st overall, in the QMJHL draft by the Charlottetown Islanders.
He is considering the NCAA route, and the BCHL is a breeding ground for collegiate players.
Alex Newhook of St. John’s has committed to Boston College, and will play for the BCHL’s Victoria Grizzlies until the 16-year-old is ready for university.
Newhook was ranked a top five pick for the Q draft, but slid to the third round, 41st overall to Halifax. Newhook had let it be known he was going the college route.
He won the Eastern AAA midget league MVP award and scoring title last season in Ontario, playing for the midget AAA York Simcoe Express.