Getting thrown in off the deep end last season with a developing team was the best thing that could have happened for Anthony Beauvillier.
Even the top, top hopefuls in a junior league's incoming class need some sheltering at 16 years old. The 2013-14 Cataractes weren't always able to provide that essential, so Beauvillier, the No. 2 overall pick, often had to draw tough matchups. Since passing into his sophomore season, he's become one of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's best all-around centres, leading the circuit in faceoff wins while counting 31 goals and 66 points over 45 games.
"Last year they gave me, well, it wasn't a defensive role but we weren't very offensive so we really had to play well on defence," says Beauvillier, who is NHL Central Scouting's 49th-ranked domestic skater. "I was being matched up against guys like [50-goal scorers] Anthony Mantha or even Anthony Duclair and it was helpful for me.
"I just play my game, working hard off the ice and on the ice," Beauvillier says of the accolades he's received for being a primary leader on a young team that has scaled to seventh overall in the QMJHL. "There's a group of guys on the team that follow me, and I respect everyone on our team."
At 5-foot-10 and 181 pounds, the 17-year-old Beauvillier has elicited praise for his ceaseless drive to the net and high energy. Talent evaluators at the next level will have to take the long view on whether Beauvillier is capable of transferring those qualities to the professional level where everyone is stronger and swifter. Meantime, his qualities might suit him to suiting up for Team Canada at a future world junior; gold medal-winning coach Benoît Groulx recently sang Beauvillier's praises.
"That's very nice hearing that from the coach that just won the gold medal with Team Canada," says Beauvillier, whose brother Francis Beauvillier played in the 2012 CHL Top Prospects Game. "It shows I'm on a good wave."
1. First off, how does a young man from Sorel, Que., end up being a Boston Bruins fan?
"I love the way they play and their grit. I love players like Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and the way they compete every game."
2. Which NHL player do you study closely?
"I really like [Chicago Blackhawks centre] Jonathan Toews. The way he plays and his leadership and the way he manages the game and competes every day. I want to be the kind of guy like him."
3. What do you see as the big reason for the Cataractes' improvement?
"We are young as a team, but we have a lot of experience with the building season that we had last year. We gained confidence at the beginning of this year and just kept working."
4. Other than your own team, who has the nicest jersey in the Quebec League?
"I would say Rouyn-Noranda Huskies [his older brother's former team]. I don't know why but I really like their design, their logo."
5. If you didn't play hockey, what sport would you play?
"I would say tennis. I really like tennis."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.