Out in Cape Breton, William Carrier has had his difficulties whipping up that wow factor of late.
The 18-year-old left wing, not to look a gift horse in the mouth, offers a blend of core strength, skating, shooting and goal scoring that doesn't grow on trees. The one question that dominates the draft debate with the 6-foot-1½, 198-pound left wing is if and how he has been affected by toiling for a Cape Breton Screaming Eagles franchise that has won only 55 of 204 games across his three seasons in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Carrier, ranked 18th in NHL Central Scouting's final North American ranking, also missed half of the regular season due to a high ankle sprain, although he put up 42 points in 34 games with scarcely little offensive support.
"We had a young team with seven 16-year-olds in the lineup," says Carrier, who hails from Montreal's West Island. "It's pretty hard to win a game with that. Hopefully next year we'll be good.
"I didn't let it affect me. The scouts don't always come out that far, but whenever we played in Quebec there would be like 30 there. You can get noticed, plenty of guys have. [Former Screaming Eagles star] Morgan Ellis [who is now a Montreal Canadiens AHL farmhand], he's a good example of that."
In general terms, playing for a bottom-feeder should never assuage any concerns about a player's compete level. By the same token, it can be unfair to put a stigma on a young player in a team sport. The truth is always somewhere in the middle. Carrier's productivity as a 17- and 18-year-old and his shot, playmaking and ability to carry the puck into the goalmouth suggest that at his peak, he's a talent the 30 NHL teams will want waiting in the wings.
1. What aspect of your game will you really focus on heading into your 19-year-old season?
"Probably just my skating. Improve it a lot for the next level, the game is so fast there."
2. Whom in the NHL do you watch because their style is close to what you aspire to play at that level someday?
"Probably a team like Boston or Philadelphia. They play physical, they play hard and that's my kind of play that I like."
3. Over your time in the league, who has been the toughest defenceman to face?
"Toughest D-man is probably [Halifax Mooseheads graduating overage Konrad] Abeltshauser [who stands 6-foot-5]. He has eight feet of stick so he's pretty hard to get around. He turns around [while defending a one-on-one] and he's at the net already. Tall guys, with a long stick, they're tough to get by."
4. Where is your favourite road rink in the QMJHL?
"Quebec City [Colisée Pepsi] is always a good place to play. It's a good rink and since I'm from Montreal, it's practically my hometown."
5. If there was something you could change about the Q, what would it be?
"I'd get my team closer ... sometimes it's 26 hours to go to a game. The town's great and the organization's great but sometimes the bus travel is a lot."
Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to firstname.lastname@example.org.