Born and raised 15 minutes south of Buffalo, Quentin Musty had a lot of options for next season and he chose the OHL. Thanks to that decision, Musty will be taken first overall by the Sudbury Wolves when the OHL draft officially takes place on Friday.
"For me it was being able to practise and play against older competition every day," Musty said. "It's hockey first and you're around the rink all the time."
Already 6-foot-3 and 181 pounds, Musty played all three forward positions this season with the North Jersey Avalanche, but the soon-to-be 16-year-old prefers to be on the right wing, where the left-shooting playmaker can drive wide or cut into the middle on his forehand. Though he missed time due to an injury this year, Musty was back in time to help the Avalanche win a national U16 title, scoring two goals (including the game-winner) in a 5-1 win over the Colorado Thunderbirds.
Moving from Buffalo to New Jersey opened up a world of opportunity for Musty, particularly thanks to the Avalanche's unique set-up, where the majority of the team lived in one big house with two billet dads and team recruiter Rob Hutson living in the house directly behind. The team also had access to a private rink next door and a variety of other amenities like a pool and basketball court.
"It was a great experience," Musty said. "Being away from home was made a lot less difficult by being around 13 other brothers in the same house. It wasn't too bad of an adjustment. Being around 13 other teenage boys, as you can figure, was a blast every day. Skating every day, having the gym there – it was everything you could ask for."
For Hutson, the benefit of having so many teammates together all the time is how they pushed each other to get better. And when Musty was recovering from his injury, he made the most of his time.
"For being such a big, powerful forward, he has added that element of skill and ability: the touch, the hands, the ability to make those little flip plays," Hutson said. 'He took advantage of his time away from the team to break down his skill game and the details became off the charts."
While Musty likes to watch NHLers such as Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner (he grew up a fan of, paradoxically, the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings), Hutson sees a lot of elements from Eric Lindros' game in the youngster.
" 'Q' has that mean streak, that size, that tenacity – he has a lot of those intangibles," he said. "He's almost freakishly skilled for that type of player."
Hutson will be doing more coaching with the Avalanche next year and gives a lot of credit to up-and-coming skills guru Anthony Day for coaching up the kids in the program. Day is a former Yale right winger who won a Frozen Four championship with the Bulldogs in 2013. But this year, the Avs came together for each other and this season's bench boss, Vinny Smith.
"It was just a really tight, special group of people," Musty said. "There were only three or four kids left over from the year before, so we didn't think we'd get that close. But since Day 1 we gelled and came together like a family and did it for each other. Our coach, Vinny Smith, is a great guy and great coach and it was his dream to win a national championship, so we did it for him and for each other."
So what can Wolves fans expect from Musty?
"I really like generating chances for my teammates," he said. "I like to make plays and facilitate the puck. My linemates had the same mindset so we all got our share of points this year."
His main focus this season was to shoot more and get that scorer's touch. To that end, he set himself a goal of getting at least five shots on net per game – and ended up averaging six or seven. So when the kid puts his mind to something, he does it. Consider this a warning for his future OHL opponents.