Marc Bergevin, the General Manager of the Montreal Canadiens raised a few eyebrows when they signed 20 year old free agent Jack Nevins to an entry level deal as an undrafted free agent.
Nevins was having a great season with the Charlottetown Islanders at the time of the signing, but played on three separate Ontario Hockey League teams in less than a calendar year, before passing through waivers and ultimately finding a home in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Nevins first season in Charlottetown did not produce eye popping numbers, but he scored 36 points in 41 games with the Islanders this season before being dealt to the Rouyn Noranda Huskies at the QMJHL trade deadline in January.
Nevins scoring took a dip with his new team, and who could blame him? He was with his fifth franchise in less than three years, in two separate Major Junior leagues. Heck, even when he was in Charlottetown, they changed the franchise name from PEI Rocket to Charlottetown Islanders in the offseason.
When the puck dropped on the postseason, it quickly became clear that Nevins was comfortable with his new surroundings. The Huskies finished 10th in the QMJHL standings and would be taking on the 7th place Quebec Remparts. Only two teams separated the Huskies and Remparts in the standings, but there was a wide 15 point gap, with Quebec accumulating 90 points in the 68 game QMJHL regular season, and Rouyn Noranda settling for 75.
The Remparts also had the added benefit of receiving Junior scoring phenom Mikhail Grigorenko back from the National Hockey League’s Buffalo Sabres in time for the playoffs.
It is not that the odds were overwhelmingly stacked against the Huskies entering this series, but they certainly were not the favorite either.
The Huskies struck first however, heading into the Colisee and defeating the Remparts 5-4 on an overtime game winner by Ryan Penny. Nevins was held off the scoresheet in the series opener, but that would not last for long.
The Habs prospect scored the opening goal in game two, but the strong Remparts offense came through, and blasted the Huskies with a 7-2 victory to tie the series at one apiece.
The scene shifted to the Huskies home rink for game three, and Rouyn Noranda would dominate, outshooting their opponent 54-21, and regaining their series lead with a 5-2 victory.
Jack Nevins would be the first star of game four, turning in his best performance of the series. Nevins scored once and added a pair of assists for the Huskies, fired six shots on goal and ensured Rouyn Noranda would head back to Quebec with a chance to win the series in game five, after a 4-1 victory.
In game five, Nevins would set up a Huskies goal late in the second period that gave the visitors a commanding 3-1 lead heading into the third period. After the teams swapped goals, Nevins put the finishing touches on the Remparts season, scoring a power play goal to make it 5-2 and put the game out of reach.
It was a strong series from Nevins, especially the final two games, where he scored five points and was a difference maker in the Huskies upsetting the strong Remparts team.
The Huskies will now move on to the second round and take on either the Baie Comeau Drakkar who are led by Habs picks Charles Hudon and Jeremy Gregoire, or the Halifax Mooseheads who rely on the strong goaltending of Canadiens prospect Zach Fucale.
Either way, the Huskies will be an enormous underdog, and Nevins will have to raise a few more eyebrows to carry Rouyn Noranda to the QMJHL semi-finals.
For an early jump on Montreal Canadiens playoff tickets check out TiqIQ.com