MONTREAL -- Pierre-Olivier Joseph has always been in competition with his older brother, Mathieu, for as long as he can remember. It was something that pushed him to follow in the footsteps of the elder, but at a different position.
That might explain why Pierre-Olivier Joseph, a defenseman for Charlottetown Islanders in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, is a projected second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. He's No. 42 on NHL Central Scouting's midterm ranking of North American skaters.
Right wing Mathieu Joseph, who has 78 points (35 goals, 43 assists) in 53 games for Saint John of the QMJHL, was a fourth-round pick (No. 120) of the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 2015 draft. He had five points (one goal, four assists) in seven games to help Canada win a silver medal at the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship.
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That's the carrot the younger brother is chasing.
"The older one takes competition with a bit more of a grain of salt, even if he's very competitive," said their father, Frantzi Joseph. "The younger one wants to show he can do it too."
Pierre-Olivier, 17, was a fifth-round pick in the 2015 QMJHL draft but is the third-highest prospect from the league behind Halifax center Nico Hischier (No. 2) and Victoriaville left wing Maxime Comtois (No. 15), according to NHL Central Scouting.
"I was drafted late, but the draft doesn't mean much," Joseph said. "But when you're being talked about the same way as a bunch of first-round draft picks who have played for Hockey Canada, it's special. I just need to keep working hard and good things will happen."
Joseph (6-foot-2, 160 pounds) has already worked very hard to reach this point.
At his first training camp with Charlottetown in 2015, Joseph was sent back to Midget AAA to work on his game. It only took 19 games before he was called back up, earning a spot in the lineup at age 16. It was no easy task considering the position he played at 6-foot, 150 pounds at the time.
"It just forces you to be smarter and think differently than other players," Joseph said. "You need to have a physical component in your game, but the goal is to be smarter than the big guy skating next to you."
Joseph put on 10 pounds and played 48 games in his first season, and is now a vital part of an Islanders defense that also includes drafted NHL prospects Nicolas Meloche (Colorado Avalanche) and Guillaume Brisebois (Vancouver Canucks).
Joseph's offensive game has flourished under Charlottetown coach Jim Hulton, a former assistant coach with the Florida Panthers for three seasons. He has 39 points (six goals, 33 assists) in 59 games, and 20 points (three goals, 17 assists) on the power play.
"[Hulton] pushes us because he knows what it takes to reach the next level," Joseph said. "It's great working with him. I feel I've developed a lot under him over the last two years."
Now that he is on the verge of likely seeing his dream realized at the 2017 draft, Joseph gives his older brother credit as the biggest influence on his career.
The two were raised in a sports environment; Frantzi has played and coached hockey for many years and their mother France Taillon was a competitive athlete in her youth.
"This is something we agreed on," Taillon said. "Sports makes an individual stronger, it's a great development tool. So we knew our kids would be involved, even if we didn't know it would necessarily lead this far."
This may seem common, but considering how few hockey players ever get drafted, to have two come from the same family is in rare. But the Joseph brothers have helped each other along, spending their offseason training together to make sure this family project comes to fruition.
"I never would have believed they would both reach the level they are at now," Frantzi Joseph said. "On the other hand, France and I would always tell them that they should never think they weren't able to do something."
Two years after watching Mathieu pull on the Lightning jersey at the draft, it will be Pierre-Olivier's turn at United Center in Chicago in June. And standing right next to him will be the guy who has always been there, and helped push him to this point.