While 2008 wasn't the best draft for Quebec Major Junior Hockey League prospects, Yann Sauve
could change all that.
No QMJHL players were taken in the first round. Sauve, who plays for the Saint John Sea Dogs, was selected in the second round (No. 41) by the Vancouver Canucks
, and was the third QMJHL player selected.
Sauve, though, relishes the opportunity to play in the QMJHL.
"Playing in the Q, it's awesome," Sauve said. "It's a pretty good league. We just play a lot, and have a lot of ice time now. So I just try to improve myself as much as I can, and that's it."
Sauve was the first QMJHL defenseman to be taken in the 2008 draft, which is significant because the league is known for its high-scoring games and defensemen are tested at every turn. NHL Director of Central Scouting E.J. McGuire knows Sauve is one of the best defensemen in his league, but is prone to rushing plays that result in losing the puck.
"Yann is a defenseman who, when he is on, can be one of the best defensemen in all the Quebec League and all of junior hockey," McGuire said. "With continued development and maturity, as well as experience on when to dish the puck and when not to dish the puck, projects to be a solid defenseman. He needs to improve on a little bit of poise and calmness with the puck. He is good with the puck but sometimes gives it away too abruptly and it results in turnovers."
Sauve measures in at 6-foot-2 and 209 pounds, and he skates surprisingly well for a big player.
"My strength is I'm a pretty big guy," Sauve said. "I think I'm pretty mobile, too, for my size. I just want to play hard there and make some good plays -- go to the net, and just feel that my presence is felt on the ice."
Sauve recognizes there is plenty of room for improvement in his game, particularly in the offensive zone. He had 6 goals and 21 points in 69 games for Saint John last season.
"My strength is I'm a pretty big guy, I think I'm pretty mobile, too, for my size. I just want to play hard there and make some good plays -- go to the net, and just feel that my presence is felt on the ice."
-- Yann Sauve
"I have to improve my offensive skills, create more plays and be more patient," Sauve told The New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. "I've got a lot of things to improve on but I have some time to improve those little details that are going to take me to the NHL."
Last season, Saint John coach Jacques Beaulieu encouraged Sauve to join in the Sea Dogs' attack, but only in intelligent spots.
"(Jacques) wants us to make the right decision when to be offensive," Sauve told the Telegraph-Journal. "We have to be smart and I think I'm doing a great job of reading the rush and deciding when to jump in."
Despite Sauve's defensive ways, he claims to style his game after a couple of NHL All-Star defensemen who pack an offensive punch.
"I want to play the same style as Dion Phaneuf
and be strong on the ice," Sauve said. "And I like Rob Blake
with the big shot on the blue line. I don't want to compare myself to them, but I just try to play the same game as them."
Since Sauve was drafted by Vancouver, he could be Phaneuf's Northwest Division rival after some more seasoning in the Q, where he likely will return for a third season.