QMJHL: Gabriel D’Aigle, the best goaltender of the last 20 years!

By the time the new 15-year-old (soon-to-be-16) goaltender of the Victoryville Tigres is called up in the first round of the 2025 National League draft, it will have been nearly two decades since the Quebec goaltender led the same tour de force.

In 2006 in Vancouver, Jonathan Bernier, who played for the defunct Lewiston MAINEiacs, was the 11th overall pick by the Los Angeles Kings. Since then, only six Quebec goaltenders from the QMJHL have been selected in the 2nd or 3rd round, but none in the 1st round. Of those six goaltenders, only one is currently playing in the NHL, Samuel Montembo. Others had almost no contact with Bettman’s track. These are Antoine Lafleur, Marco Cousineau, Zachary Fucale, Philippe Derosier and Olivier Rodrigue.

I watched the young D’Aigle a few times last year at St Hyacinthe Galls. On Sunday night in Victoriaville, I saw him record his first shutout in the QMJHL, stopping 29 shots for the Saint John Sea Dogs. The youngster is already very large physically (6-foot-4, 210 pounds), his movements are fluid, and his technique already seems more than adequate. Let me remind you, on November 21, the boy will turn only 16!

About 30 NHL scouts were in Victoryville on Sunday, and although he is not eligible until 2025, hockey players have begun to take note of the young defenseman, who was the second pick in last July’s junior auction behind Thomas Lavoie.

For most of them, he is probably the best young goaltender since Marc-Andre Fleury, who in 2003 was the first pick in the NHL auction. It’s probably a coincidence, but like Fleury, D’Aigle is also from Sorel.

In three starts this season, the young Tigres goaltender has three shutouts and a 1.00 goals-against average with a .963 save percentage.

At 15 years, 11 months, D’Egle on Sunday became the youngest goaltender to record a shutout in the QMJHL since Andre Lepage of the Drummondville Rangers accomplished the feat at 15 years, 8 months in 1970. Egle also became the first 15-year-old goaltender (civil age) to win his first three starts at the track.

Destroyed factory

There was a time when Quebec produced goaltenders at the same rate as the Dominican Republic produced elite baseball players. That time has long passed. Between 1990 and 2003, no doubt inspired by Patrick Roy, 32 of the 99 goaltenders declared in the first three rounds of the NHL came from the QMJHL – YES, one in 3 goaltenders was drafted in Quebec! Of that number, 13 were selected in the 1st round, including a record three in 1995: Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Martin Biron and Marc Denis. We will never see this again!

Since 2004, 141 goaltenders have been selected in the 1st round, but as we said above, only six from Courteau’s team. The percentage of home goalkeepers selected in the first three rounds has dropped from 33% to 5.6%, and it’s hard to explain why, except that other countries have improved significantly in developing the masked men.

The same phenomenon is observed with the Canadian junior national team. Between 1996 and 2004, 56 of the national team’s 60 games were started by Quebec goaltenders from the QMJHL. Since 2005, Quebec goaltenders in the QMJHL have made just 15 starts in 115 games. A real fall!

Note also that this drop is not just in Quebec, but across Canada, where very few goaltenders are ranked. Since Bernier’s selection in 2006, only five other Canadiens goaltenders have been selected in the 1st round: Leland Irving (also in 2006), Chet Pickard (2008), Marc Vicentin (2010), Malcolm Subban (2012) and Sebastian Cossa (2021).

Back to D’Agle, he is one of six goaltenders selected for the U17 competition to be held in British Columbia from November 3-12. This is the first stage of the national program.

D’Agle clearly has a bright future ahead of him and has three good seasons at Victoriaville before his big day in June 2025. He will be learning from veteran Nathan Darvo this year, but who knows if he can , starting next year at the age of 17, take over the number one role.

Thirty years ago, the Victoriaville Tigres had “Daigle”, Alexander, who sent crowds into a frenzy and who finally became the first pick in the 1st round of the 1993 draft. He writes his name with an apostrophe, another “D’Aigle”. ” will be spoken in Bois-France for the next few years.

The youngest goalkeepers with the 1st shutout

1-Andre Lepage Drummondville-1970 15 years 8 months 29 saves in Game 3
2-Gabriel D’Aigle Victoriaville-2022 15 years 11 months 29 saves Game 3
3-Maxim Clermont Gatineau-2008 16 years and 1 month 29 saves 21st game
4-Matthew Welsh Charlottetown-2015 16 years 2 months 20 saves in first game
5-Jonathan Moren Rouen Noranda-1997 16 years and 2 months 27 saves 5th match
6-Olivier Roy Cap-Breton-2007 16 years and 3 months 20 saves 5th match

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