Four players with ties to the Northeastern hockey program were selected in the two-day Quebec Major Junior Hockey League Draft this past weekend. For those who may be unfamiliar with it, QMJHL is a part of the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) along with the Ontario and Western Hockey Leagues. Players that choose this route, which is called “Major Junior” after they finish their “junior hockey” in younger leagues, are paid a salary and are provided room and board by their teams as they play in Canada. In doing so, signing a CHL contract and accepting payment for playing makes a player ineligible for the NCAA hockey route, as their amateur status is revoked once the contract is signed. There have been recruiting battles for top players between NCAA and CHL teams for decades, with each route offering its own benefits for player development. For the first time in a few years, the Huskies came out on the losing side of one of those recruit battles this weekend.
In the second round of the QMJHL Draft, the Saint John SeaDogs selected Charlie DesRoches, a 2002-born defenseman from Prince Edward Island, Canada. DesRoches is considered an elite defenseman among the ’02 birth years, with offensive talent and growing physicality as he matures. When he committed to the Huskies in December 2017, it was considered a huge win for Jim Madigan and his staff. Unfortunately, one day after being drafted by Saint John, DesRoches signed a contract with them, nullifying his commitment to Northeastern. In an article via JournalPioneer.com, DesRoches says that factors affecting his decision included playing closer to home, as well as having “parents, family, and friends get out to a lot more games [will make it] a lot more fun.” Saint John expects DesRoches to come in next year and contribute to the team immediately, meaning he will no longer attend Selects Academy in Connecticut, where he played this past season.
DesRoches is the first recruit to choose the CHL over his Northeastern commitment since Shaun Bily rebuffed the Huskies in 2014, choosing instead to play for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League. Losing a recruiting battle will always sting, especially when losing an elite-level recruit like DesRoches. Players of his caliber do not grow on trees, and as college hockey recruiting continues to target younger players, part of what will help Northeastern contend with the traditional “elite” powers in the sport is both committing younger, higher-caliber players and getting those players to campus when they reach enrollment age. However, going after younger players comes with the risk of them either not developing as they are projected, or that they may change their minds as they age. It is a necessary risk when chasing after high-caliber talent, especially when that talent comes from Canada. When decommitment does happen, as it does to all programs at some point, the coaches have our full confidence that they will find another talented player to fill the void in the pipeline and contribute to the Huskies program.
DesRoches was not the only Northeastern recruit taken in the draft. In the tenth round, the Quebec Remparts selected Thayer Academy forward and Massachusetts native Sasha Teleguine. Teleguine was recently selected in the fifth round of the United States Hockey League draft by the Chicago Steel. Late round American-born picks in the QMJHL Draft have traditionally been considered wild card picks; fliers taken by teams on players that are perceived to be less likely to commit to Major Junior. This year, the league had a different set-up, with an American-only draft taking place two days after the regular Draft, with Americans eligible in the regular draft as well. Selecting Teleguine in the standard draft indicates to us that Quebec may be thinking that they could get him to sign with them moreso than other potential American picks at that spot. We will monitor Teleguine’s development and any decisions he makes regarding where he plays in the coming year(s), but considering where he was picked in the USHL Draft and the history of Thayer Academy sending players to the USHL and NCAA route, we still feel good about Teleguine honoring his commitment to Northeastern.
The Huskies had two recruits taken in the American-only draft on Monday morning, including Saint John diving into the Huskies’ pipeline again to select forward Jack Williams with the first overall pick. Williams was teammates with DesRoches at Selects Academy, and was actually the second of three Selects Academy players selected by Saint John, giving the impression that they are hoping to “keep the band together” and get all three players north of the border. Williams is an elite forward among the 2002 birth years, and put up a staggering 79 points in 49 prep games last season. We hope that he keeps his commitment to the Huskies, but being such a high pick and teammate of DesRoches, we can expect Saint John to pressure Williams to sign as well before he enrolls to Northeastern in 2020 or 2021.
The final Huskies recruit to be selected was 2001-born forward Sam Colangelo from Lawrence Academy. Colangelo is coming off a state championship-winning season at Lawrence, where he played with fellow Northeastern recruit Neil Shea. Colangelo and Shea were both selected in the second round of the USHL Draft on Day 2 by the Chicago Steel, and are expected to play for Chicago next season before enrolling to Northeastern (Shea in 2019, Colangelo in 2020). Colangelo tallied 42 points in 29 games for Lawrence last season. Similar to the other players selected, we will monitor Colangelo and will provide any updates on his commitment as they come.
The CHL is an ever-present thorn in the side of NCAA hockey programs when it comes to competing for players. Losing a recruit is something that is the nature of the game, particularly when going after high-end talent. We have full confidence in the coaching staff to find a suitable replacement for DesRoches in the Huskies’ pool of recruits, and we are optimistic that the other players selected will eventually find their way to Matthews Arena to wear the Northeastern Huskies uniform.
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