Any team that decides to draft Michael Matheson — if it isn’t the Baie-Comeau Drakkar — will be under the QMJHL microscope more than ever before.
New rules implemented last December allow league commissioner Gilles Courteau to dish out severe punishment to teams found to have manipulated the draft, including a fine of $100,000 and loss of future draft picks.
Matheson, the top-ranked prospect for Saturday’s draft in Drummondville, Que., went on record this week saying he has decided not to play in the QMJHL because he wants to play NCAA hockey instead.
But if that’s a bluff so he can avoid going to Baie-Comeau, which picks first overall, a team picking him later could be in trouble if Matheson suddenly changes his tune. The Halifax Mooseheads pick second.
“It Matheson is playing a game because he wants to go to Halifax (or another team), then that team is going to be under a lot of surveillance,” said one team governor. “The league is not messing around. It has to be equal for everybody, even small markets (like Baie-Comeau).”
Many teams lobbied for stiffer punishments and would likely pressure Courteau to implement the new penalty if Matheson ends up with a QMJHL team that isn’t the Drakkar.
“If the kid is going NCAA, so be it,” the governor said.
“But if you don’t go to Baie-Comeau, you don’t play in the league. That’s the way it should be. If he ends up with another team, I’m going to be very, very upset.”
Metro’s draft coverage
Metro Halifax is your source for coverage of one of the most important QMJHL drafts in Mooseheads’ history. Matthew Wuest will be on-site in Drummondville, Que. Follow @metroqfiles on Twitter, or visit his blog at www.metronews.ca/qfiles. For a weekend wrap-up, pick up Monday’s edition of Metro.