Prospect Watch: Smooth transition for Herzog, Bibeau could benefit from recent trade

Fabrice Herzog has 23 goals in 36 games this season with the Quebec Remparts- Image courtesy of Pascal Ratthe

Fabrice Herzog has 23 goals in 36 games this season with the Quebec Remparts- Image courtesy of Pascal Ratthe

January 17, 2014

TORONTO- Prospect Fabrice Herzog’s first season in North America is getting a thumbs-up from Leaf management.

Since coming over from Switzerland, the 19-year-old has scored 23 goals and 36 points in 38 games with the QMJHL’s Quebec Remparts, which puts him fourth in team production and second in goals. And his role with the club continues to increase as the season progresses.

“He is on one of the top-two lines on a good Quebec team,” said Leafs VP of Hockey Operations Dave Poulin. “And they have started to use him as a penalty killer, in addition to even-strength and power-play time. Overall, we are very pleased with his development.”

Herzog, who was selected in the fifth round in 2013 by Toronto, split time last season back home with Zug U-20 and Zug in the Swiss-A league before making his transition to North America in the summer.

His first real taste of the smaller ice came at prospects camp in July and he attended Leaf camp in September before joining the Remparts.

“(He transitioned) very well, right from the start” said Poulin. “He gained a lot of confidence at Leaf camp and carried it right back from day one.”

The six-foot-two 176-pound winger played for Switzerland at the recent World Junior Championships and scored three goals in five games by playing an aggressive style around the net. Since returning he has produced three goals and seven points in five contests with Quebec.

“His strength is his hockey sense and net-front presence,” said Poulin. “And he finds a way to use a very good stick to score goals.”

Quebec is currently seventh overall in the QMJHL.

Goaltender Antoine Bibeau will benefit from a recent trade to the Val-d’Or Foreurs of the QMJHL, according to Poulin.

The Leaf prospect opened the year with the Charlottetown Islanders and after starting with three straight victories, things started to fall apart for the 19-year-old.

From Nov. 15 to Dec. 20 the Victoriaville, Que. native went on a personal nine-game losing streak, giving up four goals or more six times, and the Islanders plummeted down the standings.

Val-d’Or, on the other hand, possesses the league’s leading scoring Anthony Mantha, as well as three other players in the Top-15 in QMJHL scoring, and the expectation is that they can make a push in the playoffs with Bibeau between the pipes.

“Antoine is happy with the move and welcomes the challenge of being the go-to guy on a team that hopes to go deep into the playoffs,” said Poulin.  “Antoine’s benefit (from the trade) would be that experience.”

The 19-year-old was passed over in his first year of draft eligibility before the Leafs selected him 172nd overall in 2013. He was the 18th netminder taken after posting a 28-11-3 record with a 2.81 goals-against average and .911 save percentage in 46 games with the P.E.I. Rocket.

In four games with Val-d’Or, Bibeau is 1-3-0 with a 3.71 goals-against average and .878 save percentage.

KYLE CICERELLA

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