Talent evaluation at the bantam/midget levels

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  1. NA Scouting
    I was looking at the past two QMJHL drafts and something very interesting came up.

    During the 2015-16 season four players were permitted to play in Midget AAA in Quebec even though they were still of Bantam age (14 yrs old); Xavier Parent, Samuel Poulin, Xavier Simoneau and Olivier Desroches. It is fun to compare them to their peers now a couple of years later.

    Parent first caught attention when he killed Pee-Wee AAA posting 113 points in 30 regular season games and was even dubbed the next Mario Lemieux. Then the 2017 QMJHL draft rolls around. Who's the first overall pick you may ask? Parent? No. Alexis Lafrenière. Yes that Lafrenière. In 2015-16, he was left behind in Bantam while the other 4 were put in Midget AAA. The following season he put up 80 points in 60 games as a rookie in Midget AAA while the other 4 already had a year of experience on him. He was chosen number one. Another guy left behind in Bantam, Jakob Pelletier, was a star in the playoffs before he was choosen 3rd overall - in front of Parent.

    Olivier Desroches fell to 34th overall. That is not a typo. He was supposed to be top-4 just one year prior.

    Jeremie Poirier, William Provost, Elliot Desnoyers, Lucas Mercuri were all promoted to Midget AAA in 2016-17 despite being of Bantam age as well. But in the 2018 QMJHL draft, Poirier ended up going 8th overall, Provost 13th, Desnoyers 18th and Mercuri 19th. Hendrix Lapierre is the player who was chosen 1st overall. For comparison sake, in their first year of Bantam eligibility, Lapierre spent the majory of the year in AA whereas Mercuri notched more than a point per game in AAA.

    So what's the point of this post? It's just an interesting observation. How can there be such a swing in how these young players are perceived year-to-year? One year you're dominating Bantam so bad that you're ready to play in Midget AAA as an underager and the following year you get passed by a bunch of guys who were left behind in Bantam. They end up getting picked ahead of you in the QMHL draft. In the end is it just impossible to evaluate how a teenager will progress and grow? Perhaps the only thing you can do is judge in the now how good they are without ever knowing how good they can be for sure? It's just too much of a crapshoot.

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