Photo: Salmon Arm Silverbacks
On the second day of the 2021 NHL Entry Draft, the Washington Capitals selected defenseman Joaquim Lemay in the fourth round (119th overall). Lemay, born on July 28, 2002 in St-Pierre-les-Becquets, Quebec, played the 2020-21 season with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks of the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL), a Canadian Junior A Level team.
The 2020-21 BCHL season was a six-week long “Pod” season. Lemay played in 15 games and recorded 10 points, all assists. The 10 assists ranked second among rookies playing in the league. During the extended training camp last fall, Lemay scored one goal and five assists in 13 games.
It turns out that Lemay was the only player selected in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft from the BCHL. He was the first member of the Silverbacks selected since 2011 when the Anaheim Ducks selected Josh Manson.
Lemay is the first player the Capitals have selected from the BCHL since they drafted defenseman Keith Seabrook in the second round of the 2006 draft, who played with the Burnaby Express. If Lemay ends up playing for the Capitals, he will join fellow notable BCHL alumni Ryan Walter, Joe Murphy, Justin Schultz among others.
— Salmon Arm Silverbacks (@SASilverbacks) July 24, 2021
Prior to playing with the Silverbacks, Lemay played for the Mount St. Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island. There, he played in 63 games where he scored three goals and recorded 23 assists for 26 points overall.
Lemay is a relatively late bloomer who did not follow the conventional path that elite Quebec hockey players typically follow. He did not play with Estacades de Trois-Rivières in the famous midget AAA league. Instead, he played with St. Joseph’s Seminary in the School Development Hockey League (LHPS) until he was 16 and then moved to the United States to play for Mount St Charles Academy. After that, he moved to the British Columbia Hockey League to play with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks.
Lemay spoke about this, “To be drafted at 18 for a guy like me who is a late bloomer, it’s not an emergency. I will take the road to American universities, which will give me more time to develop. However, to see that I am standing out at this age, it shows me that I am on the right path in a way.”
Lemay figured his best path in hockey was to take the NCAA route. “…A few years ago, I often found myself as the smallest of my group. I wondered why I was little back then, because I saw that my father and mother were tall. My father explained to me that he had grown up late. So I had in mind that my development was going to take place later. That way, when I started to visit universities and saw that it would give me three or four more years to develop, it clicked for me. [This course] was the perfect situation.”
Prior to the draft, he described himself and his game, “I’m a two-way defenseman, I can breakout the puck either with a good pass or beat the pressure. I can make some good offensive plays too, but I’m responsible defensively. If you talk about pro hockey, I think I would bring the same thing that I can bring right now. I bring a lot of offence and tape-to-tape plays from our zone to go to the offensive zone.”
Lemay was not the only alumnus of Mount St. Charles Academy chosen in the 2021 NHL Entry Draft. Others were: Zachary Bolduc by the St. Louis Blues in Round 1, Guillaume Richard to the Columbus Blue Jackets in Round 4, Nate Benoit to the Minnesota Wild in Round 6, and Owen McLaughlin to the Philadelphia Flyers in Round 7. Mark Divver, who contributes to the New England Hockey Journal, commented after the draft, “Absolutely remarkable draft for Woonsocket’s Mount St. Charles Academy.”
Below is a video of him prior to joining the Silverbacks.
Below is his post draft interview with the media where he commented, “It’s an amazing feeling. It’s fun to spend this time with my family. I kind of had a little idea, but you never really know for sure if you’re going to be drafted, so pretty exciting.” He reported modeling his game after Miro Heikanen of the Dallas Stars and Quinn Hughes of the Vancouver Canucks. He also had a Caps jumbotron light visible during his interview. He admitted that Alex Ovechkin was one of his favorite players when growing up and now is ready to transition from being of fan to being a teammate.
Fourth-round pick @JoaquimLemay discusses being drafted, growing up a fan of the Caps (check out that light!) and who he models his game after in his first media session as a Capital.#CapsDraft | @Ticketmaster pic.twitter.com/4SHU479Uh5
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) July 24, 2021
By Diane Doyle
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Le Nouvelliste Sports: Article on Joachim Lemay (in French)