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2010 NHL Entry Draft

Early start fast-tracking Clermont's development

Friday, 02.05.2010 / 9:00 AM / 2010 NHL Entry Draft

By Matthew Wuest - NHL.com Correspondent

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Early start fast-tracking Clermont's development
Maxime Clermont got an early start to his QMJHL career, which gives him a bit more experience than some of the other players in the 2010 Entry Draft class
Maxime Clermont wasn't just young when he broke into the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He couldn't have been any younger.

Courtesy of a Dec. 31 birth date, Clermont appeared in 17 games as a rookie in 2007-08 with the Gatineau Olympiques before he blew out the candles for his 16th birthday. Unless you're John Tavares, who played in the OHL at age 15 because of a special exception, that's unheard of, especially for a goalie.

A season spent backing up Ryan Mior with the Gatineau Olympiques set the stage for the 2010 Entry Draft hopeful's future. He appeared in 29 games that season with a team that ultimately won a league title and went to the Memorial Cup.

"For sure, I was young ... but teammates tried to help me and allowed me to improve myself, and it's worked out pretty good for me now," said Clermont, who is in his third season in Gatineau. "I really know how it is now and I learned a lot."

The early start certainly hasn't stunted his development, as he was No. 10 among North American goalies in NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings of North American goaltenders.

"The younger they come in, the more they learn," said Chris Bordeleau, Central Scouting's QMJHL scout. "Playing with better players, it makes you better. He's done that. He's got experience and all-round he's a good goaltender."

After Mior finished with Gatineau, Clermont seized the No. 1 job for the 2008-09 season. He started 49 games, going 25-20-0 with a 3.22 goals-against average and .884 save percentage. Last season was something of a rebuilding campaign for Gatineau, but with a better team around him this season, Clermont has improved to 20-21-0 with a 2.88 GAA, .894 save percentage and three shutouts.

With the experience gained from last season, Clermont feels better equipped now to backstop a contender.

"It was different playing more games, and you have to learn to deal with it, approaching one game at a time," he said. "It was hard at the beginning but now I've learned how to take it."

The 6-foot, 189-pounder describes himself as a "big butterfly goaltender."

"I like the styles of Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Carey Price," Clermont said. "They play the same blocking style as me, trying to block as much of the net as they can."

Clermont said he's used Giguere as a long-distance instructional video.

"He doesn't move for just any reason," Clermont told NHL.com. "He stands there, he knows the puck is going to hit him, and he's going to keep it in his body. He won't give up too many rebounds. He's always well positioned, and that's what my game is about."

Clermont said the most important area for him to improve is his puck movement to help his defensemen. If that area of his game gets better, and he continues his all-round solid play, he'll be in line to hear his name called sometime on draft weekend in Los Angeles.

"He's going to be highly rated," Bordeleau said. "He's a good goalie who plays big in the net. And the bottom line is he stops the puck. That's all that really matters."