Matt Sartoris, centre, is shown after being drafted 12th overall by the Gatineau Olympiques on Saturday at the QMJHL draft in Sherbooke, Que. Sartoris spent time with the Scotsburn Major Bantam Crushers before recently completing his first year with the Weeks Major Midgets. His teammates Lucas Sangster and Noah Archibald were also drafted 84th and 118th.
NEW GLASGOW – It’s the moment every Canadian kid playing hockey dreams of – getting drafted.
Three Weeks Major Midgets were selected in the QMJHL draft on Saturday, the most significant pick being defenceman Matt Sartoris, 12th overall by the Gatineau Olympiques.
Last season, his first year of midget, Sartoris had three goals and nine points in 34 regular season games. He added two goals in six playoff games.
Richard White, head coach of the Weeks Major Midgets, coached Sartoris for the last three seasons and said in that time Sartoris’ hockey sense has been the biggest development to his game. He said the natural skill was there, but the ability to read the game on the fly has been something that has continuously improved.
“When teams look at Matt they see size,” said White. “He’s got a 6’6 frame and he’s 190 pounds, so that right away stands out, but there’s so much more than that. He’s got a very developed shot, he’s good with the puck and he can skate really well for a man of that size.”
When Sartoris was picked 12th overall there were comments about him being an “off the board pick.” White said that most of those comments are based on the fact that Sartoris was not ranked that high on the CSR list, which was released in May, and that those making the comments cannot follow or do not follow the various major midget hockey leagues.
“I think when people make those comments around ‘they went higher than they should’ve’ or ‘they went lower than they should’ve’ it’s based around this list,” he said. “As you can see it doesn’t really matter. It’s obviously down to the preference of the individual teams, so although I believed all three of them were going to get drafted this year, when they get drafted it’s very difficult to predict because you don’t know where they sit on some team’s radars.
“Obviously it was a bit of a surprise to see Matt go as high as he did, but I think it’d be a bit of a surprise for anybody. That’s a very high pick and it’s great. I’m sure it’s a welcome surprise from him.”
Also a defenceman, Lucas Sangster was drafted 84th overall by the Charlottetown Islanders. The 6’3 Amherst-native had 23 assists in 32 regular season games last year with Weeks before adding a goal and seven points in six playoff games.
“He’s physically developed probably more than other 16-year-olds in that draft,” said White about what Sangster can add to the Islanders. “He put up some good numbers this year and played top minutes on our D-core. He has a good shot and mobility. You’re going to get a kid that has worked on his consistency throughout the year and will be a reliable defender for whatever team he plays for.”
The final Weeks player to be drafted was Noah Archibald of Truro. He went in the seventh round, 118th overall to the Moncton Wildcats. The 6’0 forward scored six goals and 16 points in 33 regular season games. He notched three goals and four points in the team’s six playoff games.
“In my opinion you’re getting one of the best skaters out of all the kids,” said White about Archibald’s appeal. “He’s got a fantastic stride and can really move with or without the puck. You’re going to get a great offensive player in that sense. Noah has also worked a lot on his defensive game this year. Being one of the top forwards in the province in peewee and in bantam sometimes your focus is more on that offensive side, but he’s really honed that defensive game and become a 200-foot player.”
White said in the time leading into the QMJHL training camps the coaches and organization will help advise and prepare the players the best they can. He added that he knows each player will receive some direction from their individual teams on what they expect going into camp.
“We’re very proud of these young men for their accomplishment over the weekend,” said he said. “It’s the first step in the process to become a major junior hockey player and it’s obviously the reason we do what we do. It’s just a little satisfaction knowing you’re helping these kids reach their goals and they’re doing everything they can.”
On Twitter: @NGNewsChris