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Buzzing The Net

NHL draft tracker: John Quenneville, Brandon Wheat Kings

Neate Sager
Buzzing The Net

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Quenneville and the Wheat Kings are well-positioned to make a run in the WHL over the next 2 seasons (CP)

The team that drafts the Brandon Wheat Kings' John Quenneville will likely get to see him prosper with a contender.

The Wheat Kings offered a sneak preview of what may come by making the second round as a young team, with Quenneville and fellow sophomore Jayce Hawryluk each tallying a point-and-a-half per game in the playoffs. Over the course of the season, Quenneville emerged as a big centre who can reliably lead a charge into the offensive zone and get the puck to teammates who have room to operate.

"I'm really excited about our future in Brandon," says Quenneville, who is related to both Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville and Boston Bruins defenceman Johnny Boychuk. "I think [Wheat Kings coach-GM] Kelly McCrimmon has done a great job, acquiring great players and prospects to play on our team. We have a lot of good young guys. I just can't wait to get started.

"I had a good summer coming into the season," John Quenneville says of his growth this season, where he counted 25 goals and 58 points over 61 regular-season games. "I got my fitness to a high point and that got my confidence up."

Quenneville, listed at 6-foot-1 and 186 pounds, was ranked No. 23 in NHL Central Scouting's final North American ranking. He projects to be a second or third-round selection in the upcoming draft. Refining his skating will be of utmost performance.

The centre also benefited from teaming up with his older brother, Peter Quenneville, midway through the season. The elder Quenneville left Quinnipiac College in the fall to join the Wheat Kings, where he became a point-a-game scorer and is also eligible to be an overage next season.

"He's my best friend and he's a good player," John Quenneville says of his brother. "Down the stretch, he was a huge part of our success. It meant a lot to me that we played together.

"He always played the top level, ahead of me, so I could always see where I was about to go and what it was going to be like," Quenneville says. "We're always trying to be one-up each other."

1. Which NHL player(s) do you study closely?

"I like to pattern my game after Jamie Benn of Dallas [who played junior for the Kelowna Rockets]. I think I play similarly to him. I do similar things, similar body type, also a left shot."

2. When you break hockey down into small components, where do you feel you need to demonstrate improvement over the next couple seasons?

"The first few steps with my skating will be important. I have good skills and I think that I think the game pretty well. So I'll move my skating along as I move up. Also, probably my defensive game. I'm going to be need to be a really good defensive player if I want to play at the next level and I'm going to continue to work on that in Brandon."

3. During the NHL combine, did you think about being drafted by Chicago, where you have a family connection with Joel Quenneville?

"I met with the Blackhawks multiple times, actually. They seemed like good meetings. But whichever team wants me is the team I'll fall in love with."

4. Brandon has more travel than any other Eastern Conference team in the WHL; which is your favourite road trip?

"I'd say it's the shortest one — to Regina. Three and a half hours and I've always seemed to enjoy success there, which is the most important part."

5. If hockey did not exist, which sport would you play?

"I think I'd be a baseball player. Maybe be a designated hitter, then I wouldn't have to do these cardio tests [during the NHL combine]. Just go up to the plate and try to hit home runs."

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet.

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