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Moncton Wildcat's Assistant General Manager of Hockey Operations Rick Melanson. Image/Submitted: Rick Melanson

Wildcats confident going into QMJHL Entry Draft

By Regis Phillips Jun 7, 2024 | 4:36 AM

The 2024 Quebec Maritime Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) Entry Draft goes this weekend at Moncton’s Avenir Centre.

The Moncton Wildcats have 19 picks heading into the draft, with 37th overall being the earliest.

Rick Melanson, assistant general manager of hockey operations, says he’s excited going into this year’s draft, adding scouts are confident about the players they have lined up.

“For us as an organization, we’ve got the excitement of having the MacDougalls with us, and we’ve been working hard to get things set up for the weekend. We’re not really looking for a specific position, you’re basically looking for the old saying of the best available player at that time,” said Melanson.

When scouting players, regardless of the league, Melanson says the two big features his scouts look for are their skills and character traits.

“It’s ideal to have both, but it’s tough to build character, either you got it or you don’t, but you can work on your skills, you can work on your skating, you can work stick handling. If you’ve got a kid that’s not willing to go into the corner first or doesn’t want to block a shot or just isn’t a character kid, it’s going to be tough,” said Melanson.

Round one takes place Friday night beginning at 7 p.m. The remaining rounds will happen on Saturday.

Melanson started scouting for the Saint-Hyacinthe Laser (now the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies) in the 1995-96 season. He then spent the next 24 seasons with the Rimouski Oceanic before joining the Wildcats front office in 2021.

He has seen many players pass through the junior hockey ranks and onto the NHL, most notably Sidney Crosby.

“He was a pretty easy one. I like to joke around that Ray Charles could’ve drafted Sidney Crosby. He was by far the best player that was available that year and knew he was going to be generational talent coming up.”