Louis Leblanc

 

It’s not very often that you’ll look at a 19-year-old’s decision to leave Harvard and say it’s a good one – but in the case of Louis Leblanc, it definitely is.

 

Leblanc is a gifted hockey player who can make millions of dollars if he develops his talent properly and he won’t do that with the Harvard Crimson.

 

When it comes to name brands, it doesn’t get much better than Harvard. The school has world-wide renown for its education; but their hockey team does not deserve to ride on the coat-tails of that reputation.

 

Few players have spent any significant time at Harvard and become impact NHLers because the conference they play in is a weak conference – even though it is considered NCAA Division 1. Don Sweeney, Ted Donato, Dominic Moore, Craig MacDonald and Craig Adams are the top names among Crimson alumni who played in the NHL. The first three were solid players, but you’d like to think that Louis Leblanc aspires to more than their level of play in the NHL and he certainly has the tools to better their careers.

 

Leblanc, Montreal’s first-round pick in 2009 (18th overall)  was the Ivy League rookie of the year last season as he scored 11 goals and 23 points in 31 games last year. He was playing well there, but Leblanc needs to be challenged more and he’ll get that by turning pro.

 

Montreal drafted him out of the USHL – where he was rookie of the year with the Omaha Lancers – so they can send him to the AHL this season if they want to. They could also send him to the QMJHL to play for the Montreal Juniors. There’s a good chance Leblanc will make Montreal’s AHL farm team in Hamilton and that would be a better move for Leblanc. Montreal will be carefully assessing him at training camp and will only put him in the QMJHL if they don’t think he’s strong enough for the AHL.

 

Leblanc got off to a fast start with Harvard last season and tailed off near the end of the short 31-game season. Some might argue that going from the NCAA Division 1 ranks to the major junior is a step down, but the longer season will benefit Leblanc – even if he doesn’t make the Hamilton Bulldogs.

 

Leblanc, who hails from Kirkland, Que., played two years in a row for his province at the world under-17 challenge and won a gold medal with Canada at the world under-18 tournament in 2008. He was cut from last year’s world junior team, but will try to make the team again this year and will attend the development camp in St. John’s, Nfld., next week.

 

When preparing the 2010 DobberHockey Prospects Guide, one of the reasons we were so high on Leblanc is that there were strong indications that he was going to leave Harvard. It took quite a bit longer than we expected for him to make the jump – and there was even a time when we had given up hope – but he will make enough money as a professional that he’ll be able to afford a Harvard education later on in life.

 

If he wants to be a top-six forward in the NHL, then this is the right move for him. He gets excellent grades in all the skill areas that you can’t teach, or that are difficult to improve at this stage of a player’s life: hockey sense, skating, and competitiveness.

 

The areas that he needs to improve are size and strength. He might not get much taller, he’s six feet tall and that’s tall enough. Added strength will certainly help him and that’s the easiest area for a player to improve.

 

In the Team Canada world junior media guide, Leblanc lists his favorite player as Philadelphia’s Mike Richards. That’s a good comparison for Leblanc, who combines feistiness and skill like the Flyers’ captain.

 

With his decision to turn pro, Leblanc now has an opportunity to develop into the kind of productive pro Richards has become.

 

Upside: 30-50-80


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All-in said:

All-in
@ Rob Verhelle I understand your frustration but come on, the situation with Louis Leblanc not going to Chicoutimi has nothing to do with the language or the town of Chicoutimi. This is not the Bissonnette situation at all.

It is only a question of timing. After signing with the Habs, Leblanc admitted that he was planning to go back to Harvard. The Canadiens decided to give him an offer to see him at the training camp (and to force him also to quit Harvard).
So Leblanc started his reflexion after being trade to the Junior... his decision has nothing to do with the Sags.

Actually, I think that he would have been in a better environment at Chicoutimi... or Hamilton. By playing in Montreal, he will be an attraction all year long in the city. At least he will have the habit with all the circle of media.
August 04, 2010
Votes: +0

Rob Verhelle said:

Rob
... Ok Ryan Ill bet you a big Quart of beer if he plays in the AHL smilies/grin.gif, because i dont see him playing against grown men with only a handful of games under his belt, like i said this was a done deal with the Jr de Mtl ,we will see this fall.
August 03, 2010
Votes: +0

Ryan Van Horne said:

Scribe
Not pointing blame, just asking a question Not pointing the blame at Martel, just asking if perhaps he might the reason and not the town of Chicoutimi. The Lac St-Jean region is well-known in Quebec for being a beautiful place and very hospitable to non-hockey visitors and players -- of the Sagueneens. The franchise had their struggles earlier this decade with low attendance, but Carbonneau has helped turned things around.

Without having a chance to interview Leblanc and ask him questions about his decision to not play there, I'm not going to judge him.

Furthermore, like Duchene's pre-draft gambit to help him land in Brampton, what Leblanc did doesn't have an impact on my assessment of him as an NHL prospect. At least in Leblanc's case, he made good on his promise and played USHL and at Harvard.

Before buying into the theory that a fix was in, I want to see Leblanc play for the Montreal junior. I doubt that will happen and think he'll end up in the AHL.
August 02, 2010
Votes: +0

Rob Verhelle said:

Rob
... Ok , now you seem to throw the blame at Martel, i dont know why, he turned that Baie Comeau team around you said you covered. I personnally played against him in Pee Wee, Bantam and Midget Hockey, he was a very good goalie and a fierce competitor, he is a top notch motivator and gets the best out of his players , maybe not the greatest technical teacher but his assistants take care of that very well, Marc Etienne Hubert (a future Head Coach) and goalie coach Marc Denis , did he do something special in Baie Comeau ???

When you have a season ticket like i do, i think i have the right to be a little pissed over the fact that this young dude just Shit on my town with out really checking it out , thats the way im taking it . These young players are treated like Royalty up here just ask Carbonneau, Desharnais and Denis and the others i mentionned..... and Im still having a hard time how this Kid took care of business

I think Leblanc will regret his decision because like you said playing in the Q will be step back ..... but after seeing all those front page pictures of him and the Mtl Junior Brass...... this was a done deal before the Draft, they "the Junior" have been after him for almost a year .
August 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Ryan Van Horne said:

Scribe
Maybe Martel is the issue, not the city What's funny is that you wish he falls flat on his face. That's pretty spiteful. Has Leblanc offended you in any way?

The likelihood that he'll play junior is slim. I'm sure Montreal is more interested in putting him in the AHL. To go from the USHL, to the ECAC to the QMJHL is not a good development track. He needs to go to a tougher league -- not a weaker league.

As for what reasons Leblanc might have had for not choosing to go to Chicoutimi, I can't say, but opting to play in the Quebec AAA midget league, the USHL and Harvard the last three seasons is not a bad choice for him.

Playing in Chicoutimi would not have been a bad choice, but if I were giving him advice, I'd suggest he not play for any team coached by Richard Martel. I know Martel well from covering the Quebec league for four seasons -- including a couple of playoff series involving the Baie-Comeau Drakkar.

Players have options of where they play nowadays and junior teams need to a good job convincing them that playing for them is a good decision.

I have no problem with players being honest and direct about where they would like to play, although I do have an issue with players such as Matt Duchene saying they want to play NCAA so that they'll fall in the draft. Duchene had no intention of playing for Michigan State and reported happily to Brampton.

Duchene is a great player and fun to watch, and while I didn't like his dishonest ploy, I personally don't have a problem with him and don't harbor any ill will toward him.
August 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Rob Verhelle said:

Rob
... Before the Q draft GM-Coach -Martel of Chicoutimi had a chat with Leblanc too see if he could convince him too play for the Sags but he said that it was important for him to finish his 2nd year in Harvard,so the Sags traded his rights too Mtl and we now know what was holding him back, imagine they are now choosing who they want to play for and they are still in Junior Hockey ,and now hes got to play the other guys in this League, I hope he falls flat on his face.

This is not the 1st time for Chicoutimi, just have too look back at the Matthew Bissonette ordeal, another one who didnt even bother showing up but in his case it became public, do you remember that one ?????

Even Carbonneau tried to persuade Leblanc, saying after they had no chance, he was going back too school......in Harvard . Its funny you did not mention all this in your article,I guess its not all that important news coming from a small city but who cares Eh ?????
August 01, 2010
Votes: +0

Ryan Van Horne said:

Scribe
Leblanc is bilingual, isn't he? Funny that you say Leblanc didn't want to play in Chicoutimi because of the French. I thought he was bilingual. Is he on the record as saying that's the reason?
July 31, 2010
Votes: +1

Rob Verhelle said:

Rob
... cant wait for him too play 70 + games in a real league , and we are waiting for him in Chicoutimi, you could have included in your article he didnt want too play in Chicoutimi because of the french , funny I'm from the region, went to English school with Alan Haworth and Sam St-Laurent and had a blast ...... ..... and still making my living here in Blueberry country.

Like Desharnais and Marc Denis stated here in a local newspaper and most players that played their junior hockey in Chicoutimi all come back too the region afterwards and just love it here, sorry Louis just another primadonna from the West Island that should listen too other players that have played here.
July 31, 2010
Votes: +1
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