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First Impressions: JQ Needs More Time In Binghamton

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An injury-riddled season have played a role as another tour of duty in Binghamton would not only be beneficial for John Quenneville, but the entire NJ Devils’ Organization

Binghamton Devils’ prized forward John Quenneville (#17) was an offensive force when healthy, but the injuries took its toll over the course of the season as here was in action during a starved crowd at The Floyd on a snowy night.
Photo provided by Alicia Strauch

(After my successful trial launch on a new series that featured Brett Seney, First Impressions will replace Bingo Bites from my past days at S7S. I hope you’ll enjoy my added coverage in this new format representing multiple prospects for Binghamton Devils’ hockey over the course of the off-season here at AAtJ.)

John Quenneville missed nearly half of the season with around 30 games due to injury out of a possible 76 contests in 2017-’18, including his brief two-game stints in New Jersey. (Also, there were several scratches out with the flu.) His final offensive numbers read 14 goals along with 20 assists in 43 games with the BDevils.

But let’s take a step back and begin with a look to last year at this time.

A Look-Back

Prior to the announcement that the Devils were coming to Binghamton, I was told by a source that the first year would be a challenge of sorts for the new team in town, which indeed proved to be quite accurate, but would greatly improve in year two of the newly signed five-year agreement that had taken place last summer. In addition, the outside source also mentioned for me to keep an eye on one particular player that went by the initials “JQ”.

Photo provided by Alicia Strauch

So I looked him up. Who was this JQ character and what’s so special?

What I found, he was an early 1st round draft pick with good size at 6’ 1”, 195 lbs. In addition, some decent numbers in Albany in his first year as a pro with 14 goals, 32 helpers in 58 contests but more importantly, a scouting report that read “..natural point producer who is strong on his skates and excels at keeping puck possession.” Followed by this “..he must adjust to the extra checking that comes with the professional ranks.” That according to The Hockey News. Wow.

Today, the latter comment is still where we are at with his progress in the minors.

The injury bug had taken its toll and quite possibly hampered his development in the first venture here in Binghamton, as the forward could use some additional seasoning for the BDevils beginning in the upcoming fall. The 22-year-old Canadian native out of Edmonton, AB will be entering his final year after signing a three-year ELC in mid-summer of 2015 and is currently ranked fourth in prospect depth for the Devils’ Organization.

Injuries Sustained Last Season

I was riding high on the forward early on and first with the Binghamton Devils before I realized this kid is not exactly the toughest guy in the league despite his size, and apparently, the rest of the league agreed as word was out to take him down.

However, the fact(s) remain, he is one of the most energetic and talented individuals on the team.

After all, Quenneville is a big-time forward with a heavy shot but still needs to improve physically before he becomes a full-time NHL player with the Devils, or some other club via a future trade that can’t be ruled out.

Here’s a brief summary of the multiple injuries that took place last year;

  • 10/27/18 - Suffered a shoulder injury in the 1st period against Providence with a hit along the boards and as a result missed the next 11 games after recording four goals and three assists in guiding Binghamton with a 3-2 record after the first five games of the season. (Without him, the team went 3-8 during the stretch of his absence.)
  • 2/10/18 - Out because of a knee injury suffered in a call-up with New Jersey and then reassigned to Binghamton on Feb 25th after rehabbing in NJ. Total games missed, 12.
  • 3/18/18 - Checkers’ defenseman Josiah Didier earned himself a three-game suspension for a deliberate head hunt hit during the opening seconds in Charlotte. The result was a broken nose and a sprained wrist. No games missed, however full cage required along with a possibly bruised ego. This one was unavoidable.
  • 4/6/18 - Suffered a right knee/MCL sprain with another hit into the side wall and missed the last 5 games of the season. His rehab was monitored by New Jersey’s staff and did not require knee surgery. Wasn’t able to be part of the Black Aces squad in the Devils’ post-season.

Need To Remain Patient

The Devils can afford to be patient and let him continue to develop at a proper pace before turning him into a power forward that he is quite capable of being. I’ve seen my share of former 1st round picks over the years here in Binghamton and some make it, and some do not.

Let’s be patient and otherwise remember Nick Lappin and his 31 goals, while keeping an eye on defenseman Jacob MacDonald as he enters the final year of his 2-year AHL contract signed in March 2017 along with Michael McLeod, Blake Speers, and Seney to name a few.

Photo provided by Alicia Strauch

Here were his grades as posted in this season-long Grades Reports, with the line score of Inc., 87.87 / B+, Inc., 83.87 / B when he was healthy enough for The Panel to vote on over the course of four quarters. Also seemed to have suffered some miscues while botching one-timers that you often aren’t exactly accustomed to seeing from a high 1st rounder, so there’s still work to be done.

Towards the late stages of March/April Quenneville was on a roll with four goals and nine assists in his final ten games for the BDevils before a hit that sent him to the IR that eventually ended it with the knee injury ending the season. Let’s have him build on that point total leading to the 2018-’19 campaign and gain some confidence along the way, as the last thing New Jersey needs is to rush this one.

My First Impressions Of Mr. Q?

Disappointing, but curiously optimistic. Don’t get me wrong as I’m still in his corner as the potential offensive weapon can be enormous in his future, but Quenneville’s on-ice awareness needs to be addressed with more time to develop and to be able to anticipate a hit before crumpling down to the ice in the aftermath leading to an extended time on the IR.

Bottom line? He has a great attitude which spells positive vibes on the ice as well as off, with a mature look that is refreshing in the hockey community. Love his enthusiasm and team bonding which is good optics, but JQ needs to get tougher for him to succeed in the near future.

Next time featured for First Impressions: Nick Lappin as I take a closer look at his 31 goal season in Binghamton.