"Joaquim Lemay, comfortably a late bloomer" (translated pre-draft article on the Caps' 4th round pick)

The original article is here:

Joaquim Lemay, comfortably a late bloomer

Matthew Vachon
Le Nouvelliste

When NHL Central Scouting published its final list of best available prospects for the 2021 Entry draft, defenseman Joaquim Lemay appeared in the 224th position for North American skaters. If the native of Saint-Pierre-les-Becquets was happy and surprised to see his name in that slot, he also knows that, based on his comfortably-late rise as a prospect, it would be far from the end of the world if he wasn’t selected.

The 18-year-old young man insists that he still tries not to think too much of the draft. His family will gather nevertheless in his parents’ backyard for support during the draft process in hoping for a pleasant surprise.

"We often tend to focus on negative things, but I’m trying to keep a positive approach through all this. We’ll see what happens! Whether I’m selected or not, it wouldn’t really change my career."

It’s necessary to understand that Lemay isn’t an elite-level Quebecois hockey player with a typical path. Having preferred a public school education, the defenseman didn’t play with the Trois-Rivières Estacades in the famous AAA midget league like many Mauricien (note: administrative region in Quebec) have before. He developed instead with the Saint-Joseph Seminary in the Educational Development Hockey league (LHPS) until he was 16, the moment when he committed to play for the University of Nebraska-Omaha in the NCAA.

Afterwards, Lemay moved to the coast of the United States where he played for Mount St. Charles Academy for one year to continue his development. Ready for a new challenge, he then turned up in the British Columbia Hockey League (BCHL) playing for the Salmon Arm Silverbacks during the 2020-21 season. In that sense, simply finding himself on the prospect rankings list for the NHL, considering his path and his second year of draft eligibility, appears already as a success for Lemay.

"To be selected at 18-years-old for a late-blooming guy like me, it isn’t a matter of urgency. I’m going to take the university route in the U.S., which gives me the most time for my development. Nonetheless, to see myself getting noticed at this age, it shows that I’m sort of on the right path," he said.

The NCAA to develop at his own pace

From interviewing the young man, Lemay seems like the type of person who analyzes any situation well in order to make the best and most favorable decisions for his success. He thus didn’t hesitate when the time came to opt for the NCAA for his development, as he knew that it would suit him best as a hockey player.

"It clicked into place when I was very young. A couple years ago, I usually was the smallest guy on my team. I would ask myself why that was the case at the time, since I saw that my mom and dad were big. My dad explained to me that he was a late bloomer. So I understood that my development would come much later. In this sense, when I started visiting universities and when I saw that they would give me three or four more years for my development, the decision made itself for me. It’s a perfect situation," the 6’1", 172 lb. skater explained.

The ex-Panther from Collège Marie-de-l’Incarnation thus found himself with more time to himself in order to hone his skills as an offensive defenseman. "I consider myself a defenseman who is able to bring a lot of offense. I’m good at relieving high-pressure situations and for starting breakouts to move the puck to the offensive zone."

In love with hockey since 3-years-old

Lemay’s love for hockey didn’t start yesterday. From the age of 3, the young man was walking with a hockey stick in his hands, and 15 years later, it’s still the case. The memories from the sport are thus numerous.

"One of my favorites was when I went to play in a tournament with the Panthers at Jay Peak. We won everything and I had so much fun!"

Another moment that stands out from his youth was the first time he had the opportunity to watch a bit of NCAA hockey. "It was a match between Northeastern and Boston College, the team that Johnny Gaudreau played for. The arena was packed. I was 10-years-old and I loved it so much. It was the first time that I realized what the NCAA was."

Quick Quiz

Highlight of his hockey career so far? "I would say it’s signing to play in the NCAA."

Childhood idol? Alexander Ovechkin

Favorite team growing up? Montreal Canadiens

Best player faced? Zachary Bolduc

Most beautiful place visited? Salmon Arm

Favorite hobby? Hiking in the forest

Favorite group or genre of music right now? Morgan Wallen (country music)

Favorite book or TV series right now? "The Captain Class" (book)

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