Current Team: Victoriaville Tigres (QMJHL)
Date of Birth: January 8, 1999
Place of Birth: Longeuil, QC, Canada
Weight: 201 lbs
With the 24th overall pick in the 2017 SBNation NHL Mock Draft, the Columbus Blue Jackets select, from the Victoriaville Tigres of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Maxime Comtois.
A year ago at this time, Comtois looked like a lock to go in the top five after putting up 60 points in his rookie season as the QMJHL’s No. 3 pick. The last season didn’t go as well, though, as the power forward posted lower offensive numbers across the board in two more games. Comtois’ stock slid as a result, moving his pre-draft rankings to between 24 and 30.
The big winger (who’s listed on the left but says he prefers right, and can play center) draws frequent comparisons to Rick Nash for his size, physicality and scoring touch. Ryan Smyth and Blake Wheeler come to scouts’ minds when they see him as well. One name Jackets fans might also be familiar with? Pierre-Luc Dubois. Victoriaville coach Louis Robitaille coached the 2016 Team QMJHL squad against Russia that featured the Blue Jackets’ No. 3 pick last year. Robitaille compared Comtois to Dubois, who turned around a flagging 2016-17 season after a trade to Blainville-Boisbriand from Cape Breton.
"I coached [Dubois] at the 2015 World Under-18 Junior Championship in Switzerland and can say Maxime is a new age power forward with a lot of skill and above average hockey sense," Robitaille told NHL.com’s Mike Morreale in December. "[Comtois] is a guy whose office is around the net compared to Pierre-Luc, who likes to shoot the puck from the outside and crash afterwards. They are big boys who play the game the right way and they're complete players, so that makes them special.”
Comtois will come to the Draft with no whispers about his work ethic or motor. He loves to play big in front of the net (evidenced by his shot totals) and possesses a strong two-way game that includes heavy responsibility as a penalty killer for Victoriaville. He has good speed and a sterling wrist shot to go with a sharp hockey mind that comes from a lifetime around the game.
So, who’s the real Comtois? The 2015 version that turned heads across Canada, or the 2016 edition that some scouts feared has plateaued (especially when his center Pascal Laberge missed time with a concussion)?
We think he’s worth any risk that comes with the No. 24 pick (which, hey, is the latest first-round pick in Blue Jackets history—and one they probably won’t even have, most reports indicate). You can’t teach size or the vision Comtois uses across all 200 feet and no one outworks him on or off the ice, a trait coveted by head coach John Tortorella. He can protect the puck and make opponents pay in the dirty areas.
When you’re picking at 24, you’re not going to find a flawless player. His production may have taken a hit but the tools are there. Marcus Johansson, Travis Konecny and Mikael Backlund all went at No. 24 and Comtois could definitely fit that type of role for Columbus in the coming years. With a young, strong defensive corps and a stable situation in net, using a first-round pick on a forward who can marinate for a few years seems like a solid move. Maxime Comtois is off the board.
|2008-2009||Montréal Ice Storm||Brick Invitational||5||0||4||4||4|
|2013-2014||Lac St-Louis Grenadiers Bntm AAA||QBAAA||-||-||-||-||-|
|Châteauguay Grenadiers||Telus Cup||7||9||6||15||16|
|Team Québec Blue||QGC-16||5||3||4||7||11|
|Canada Red U17||WHC-17||6||1||6||7||8|
|2016-2017||Canada U18||Hlinka Memorial||4||4||1||5||8|
|QMJHL All-Stars||Jr Super Series||1||2||0||2||0|
“Comtois is a skilled player who drives possession and pace. He loves to carry the play, is a highly effective passer and playmaker. Sets himself apart in the way he excels with quickness, especially in tight areas. Can beat goalies with his hard wrist shot and his great release. Will play physical taking great angles to the puck carrier and finished his checks. Hard back checker who’s a coach’s dream. He put great numbers in his rookie season but he struggled a little bit more this year. However, he is still effective on both sides of the puck and he is a hard worker.” - Future Considerations
“Conscientious forward that plays on both sides of the puck on consistent basis. Good compete level.” - ISS Hockey
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