By the time the Halifax Mooseheads pick second overall in June’s QMJHL draft, Michael Matheson is expected to be off the board.
That’s the word from the league’s Central Scouting department, which pegs the six-foot-one, 170-pound defenceman as the No. 1 prospect available in the June 5 draft in Drummondville, Que.
Matheson, who played for the Quebec midget AAA Lac St-Louis Lions, overcame injuries and a slow start after being used as a forward early on to turn the heads of scouts in the final two months of the season.
“Since March 15, it was a race for who would be No. 2 after him,” said Central Scouting director Patrick Charbonneau. “The last two months, he set himself apart. I have to say if you asked most teams in the Q, 90 per cent, if not 100, would agree with (him at No. 1). For me, he’s the first one to take.”
The Baie-Comeau Drakkar pick first overall.
Matheson, who had 11 points in 30 games, is blessed with outstanding skating ability and projects as a two-way No. 1 rear-guard.
“I compare him to Scott Niedermayer,” Charbonneau said. “He’s the kind of defenceman who skates well with the puck, moves the puck, plays on the power play and also plays well defensively.”
Forward Luca Ciampini, who plays for the Chateauguay Patriotes, was ranked second after producing 18 goals and 25 assists for 43 points in 38 games.
“He’s a goal-scorer and he can score from everywhere,” Charbonneau said. “I compare him to Dany Heatley. When he gets the puck close to the net, the puck goes in.”
Two big, skilled defencemen — Dominic Poulin and Jermie Fraser — are next on Central Scouting’s list, followed by forward Stefan Matteau, the son of former NHLer Stephane Matteau.
Halifax natives Taylor Burke and Liam O’Brien are ranked sixth and seventh on the list.
Burke, who plays for the Cole Harbour major midgets, is a power forward who “can play in the league right away and make a big impact,” Charbonneau said.
O’Brien, meanwhile, scored the game-winning goal to lift the Notre Dame (Sask.) Hounds to a Telus Cup Canadian midget AAA championship.
Charbonneau called O’Brien an “unbelievable” worker who can play “in any situation.”