Phoenix stock up on ­defensemen at 2020 QMJHL draft

By Michael Boriero – Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The Sherbrooke Phoenix were supposed to host this year’s edition of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) draft, but COVID-19 restrictions forced the event online.
Phoenix VP of Hockey Operations Jocelyn Thibault said the organization understands the predicament everyone is facing to this day. It’s unfortunate that the draft couldn’t be held in Sherbrooke, but, he said, there’s always next year.
“We like hosting the draft in Sherbrooke, I think the city has the perfect assets to do so,” Thibault explained. “The Palais des Sports is beautiful and it’s the perfect size to hold the draft.”
The Phoenix didn’t have a pick in the first round this year, but Thibault, who is also a part owner, believes the team accomplished their mission. They wanted to draft more defensemen and add several goaltenders to their depth chart.
“We were very happy to draft Lessard late in the second round,” said Thibault. “We were, I wouldn’t say scared, but we didn’t think he would be there at where we picked him.”
Zachary Lessard, a 15-year-old from Chateauguay, Quebec, joins the team as a right-handed defenseman – a commodity in any league. With two picks in the second round, the team drafted defenseman Carl-Étienne Michel and goaltender Jasmin Simon.
The Phoenix finished the first five rounds with three defensemen. Shebrooke is busy bolstering its defensive corps because of the uncertain future of several players. Thibault predicts they could lose up to six skaters.
“We don’t really know how many players we’re going to lose at the end of the day because we don’t know how many players will be returning from the NHL or the American League,” he said.
The Phoenix also capitalized on the Canadian Hockey League’s annual import draft, bringing in right-handed Russian defenseman Pvel Grishin. Thibault describes Grishin as a hard-working player and a strong skater for his size.

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