The Canadian Hockey League playoffs get underway this weekend, with eight Montreal Canadiens prospects taking part on their respective Junior teams.
One of those prospects, Jack Nevins, will suit up for the Rouyn Noranda Huskies of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey league when they take on the Quebec Remparts.
Nevins is perhaps the most curious of all Habs prospects. At the beginning of last season, he was a member of the London Knights, his third Ontario Hockey League team in 61 career games.
Nevins was released from the Knights after playing just two games. He was then passed over by the rest of the Ontario league, before eventually finding a home on Prince Edward Island with the PEI Rocket. Nevins scored 15 points in 51 games with the Rocket, but exploded out of the gate this season with the rebranded Charlottetown Islanders.
Nevins kept a near point per game pace with the struggling Islanders, scoring 36 in 41 games before being dealt to the Huskies at the QMJHL trade deadline. Nevins couldn’t match that output with Rouyn Noranda, scoring 12 points in 23 games with a much deeper offensive team.
The Huskies are led offensively by Marcus Power, who finished second in Q scoring with 109 points, and Jean Sebastien Dea whose 49 goals were the fourth most in the league.
Rouyn Noranda ended the regular season tenth overall in the QMJHL standings with 75 points and will face the 7th ranked Quebec Remparts in the opening round. Quebec finished 15 points ahead of the Huskies with 90, and for the second consecutive season, received a boost when Mikhail Grigorenko was sent back to Junior by the Buffalo Sabres.
The Remparts won the season series 3-1, including winning both games after Nevins arrived in Rouyn Noranda in early January. Nevins faced Quebec four times this season, twice each as an Islanders and with the Huskies, but failed to register a point in any of the four contests.
Nevins is a big left winger, listed at 6’2” and 205 pounds, and was signed by the Canadiens as a free agent in December. He was passed over in the NHL Draft, but it is clear the Habs liked his size, and determination that led him to the QMJHL, as well as the scoring touch he showed early this season.
He will have plenty of time to show off what he can do with the Hamilton Bulldogs next season, unfortunately for Huskies fans, Nevins will likely be free to join the Bulldogs in little more than a week from now.
The Quebec Remparts are just too deep and talented to lose this series to Nevins’ Huskies. They are carried offensively by a plethora of Junior stars, such as Anthony Duclair, Adam Erne, Grigorenko, Nick Sorensen, and former Hab draft pick Olivier Archambault.
All five of these players averaged well over a point per game with Quebec this season, but they all also missed time either due to injury, representing their country at the World Junior Tournament or NHL duty. With all of them healthy at once heading into the postseason, they are much more dangerous that a typical 7th seed.
My prediction: Quebec wins this series in five games. Nevins finishes the series with 1 goal and 1 assist in five games.