According to the NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters, Jordan Caron
is the best draft-eligible forward playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Caron, a center with the Rimouski Oceanic, was ranked No. 21, and is one of two QMJHL forwards among the top 30, having scored 36 goals and 31 assists in 56 games.
Not surprisingly, the strongest part of Caron's game is his shot. He led the Oceanic with 36 goals this season, and netted 6 goals and 5 assists in 13 playoff games.
"I'm more of a goal scorer than a playmaker," Caron said. "I have a good shot and I have to work on going in front of the net more, but I use my shot as much as I can."
His strong suit may be his offensive ability, but he isn't a one-dimensional player; Caron takes pride in his defensive game and penalty killing.
"I can play at both ends of the ice, I can play physical and I can play the (penalty kill)," Caron said. "Maybe I can work on my quickness, moving my feet."
NHL Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau stresses that Caron’s work ethic and defensive ability will earn him an NHL spot.
"He's been consistent and a hard worker," Bordeleau said. "He's not a flashy-type guy, but very consistent and dependable player. Right now, I would say he would be between a third-line and second-line guy. We figure that's where he's going to be, that type of player. He's very aware of defensive responsibilities and handles them very well."
Rimouski has a pretty impressive history of producing NHL talent. Alums include current NHL stars Sidney Crosby
, Brad Richards
, Vincent Lecavalier
and Ryane Clowe
Caron, who grew up about an hour east in Sayabec, Que., had season tickets to the Oceanic before he got the opportunity to play for them and was a big Crosby fan.
"I saw him play a lot during his two years in Rimouski," Caron said. "I have season tickets with my dad, so I saw him play. I live 45 minutes away from Rimouski so I was there almost every game during his time in Rimouski."
While Caron won't be drafted first like Crosby was in 2005, he still could go in the first round. For now, though, his focus is taking Rimouski as far as he can in the QMJHL playoffs, then getting ready to play in the Memorial Cup, which the Oceanic are hosting.
"I don’t want to put too much pressure on myself," Caron said. "Playing hard every game is the key. If I try to focus on what I have to do every shift, that's how I'm going to do good."
Caron's dream of playing for his hometown Oceanic came true when he was selected eighth in the 2006 QMJHL draft.
"When I got drafted the first thing that came into my mind was Sidney Crosby
and Vincent Lecavalier
," Caron said. "I saw them play when I was a kid, so it's unreal to play for that team."
"He's been consistent and a hard worker. He's not a flashy-type guy but very consistent and dependable player. Right now I would say he would be between a third-line and second-line guy. We figure that's where he's going to be, that type of player. He's very aware of defensive responsibilities and handles them very well."
-- Central Scouting's Chris Bordeleau
Caron was impressive enough this season to earn an invitation to the CHL-NHL Top Prospects Game in January -- the event is limited to the top 40 prospects from the three leagues that make up the Canadian Hockey League -- as well as the 2009 NHL Scouting Combine next month.
One drawback, though, have been a number of injuries that have slowed his growth. He played in just 56 games this season, and only 46 last season. Those kinds of numbers could motivate teams to look another direction on Draft day. Caron's talent, though, could push him past that roadblock.
"He's been injured quite a bit the last couple years," one Eastern Conference scout told NHL.com. "I was really impressed by the skating test (at the Top Prospects Game). He has upside as a strong power forward.
"We'll be following him closely down the stretch."