Jérémy Langlois has had many ups and downs in his hockey career.
From being cut from teams to not always playing the highest level in his age category, the 16-year-old has experienced it all.
Despite the disappointments, Langlois never gave up. He continued to work on his game and improve every season to reach his goal of one day playing in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Although he didn’t play in the Quebec Midget ‘AAA’ Hockey League last season, Langlois found his offensive game in the midget espoir league — known as minor midget in Nova Scotia.
The Quebec City native was one of the final cuts last season by the Midget ‘AAA’ team Séminaire St-François Blizzard, which had a number of veteran defencemen in its lineup.
Langlois was reassigned to the Quebec Cyclones, where he recorded 12 goals and 17 assists for 29 points in 32 games.
“It was disappointing not to make the midget ‘AAA’ team, but I knew going back to minor midget would help me develop more of my game,” said Langlois, who was inspired to play the sport by his father, Martin, and grandfather, Jacques.
“I had more ice time and I had chances to play on the power play and I think that helped me for sure — I think it was the best thing that could have ever happened.”
Along with his offensive talent, his stellar defensive play caught the attention of the Cape Breton Eagles scouting staff, so much so that the team selected Langlois with the No. 17 overall pick at the 2019 QMJHL Entry Draft.
“At the beginning of the season with the Cyclones, I thought about getting drafted every time I hit the ice, but as the season went on, I tried to forget about it,” said Langlois.
“When Cape Breton drafted me, there’s no words that can describe the feeling — I didn’t know where I was going to go, but I was so glad the Eagles had picked me.”
Langlois put in the time during the offseason, training and preparing for his first training camp with the Eagles.
His hard work both on and off the ice was evident during his first camp in Sydney. His puck-moving ability and composure led him to be one of the first rookie players signed by the team in late August.
Today, Langlois is showing fans across the league the Eagles didn’t make a mistake taking him with their top pick at the draft, while proving he deserves to be in the league this year.
“I think I’m playing the same as I did last year, but the points are not coming as quickly as I had hoped,” said Langlois, noting he feels no pressure being a first-round pick.
“I like the way I’m playing, and the coaches have trust in me, so I think things are going well.”
Eagles' head coach Jake Grimes couldn’t say enough good things about his rookie defenceman.
“He has fantastic composure, he’s a guy who acts like a veteran guy already, in a good way,” said Grimes. “It’s going to take time for him to show all of his skills at the major junior level.”
In 21 games this season, Langlois has one assist while being paired with fellow rookie defender Alex Falardeau on the team’s third defence pairing.
“He’s getting the tough things out of the way now, how to defend against 18- and 19-year-olds, breakout pucks, getting pucks through from the point, all those things are tough,” said Grimes.
“He’s slowly piecing those together, and from what I see, this guy is close and will become a double special teams guy, killing penalties and being on the power play someday.”
Over the course of his 15-year career as an assistant coach in the Ontario Hockey League, Grimes has seen and worked with many defencemen. Among those is New Jersey Devils blueliner PK Subban, who he coached in Belleville with the Bulls.
“What I like is when a guy becomes what could be considered a 200-foot player or a complete player before his NHL draft year,” said Grimes.
“Subban is one of them for sure; he became that complete defenceman that was drafted and has gone on to have a pretty good career — Jérémy and PK are different styles of defenceman, but I think the development paths will be similar.”
Earlier this month, Langlois was away from the team, representing Canada at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Medicine Hat, Alta., and Swift Current, Sask.
Although only recording one assist in five games for Canada Black at the tournament, Langlois believes the experience will benefit him for the remainder of the year in Cape Breton.
“It was a great experience and it was a lot of fun,” said Langlois. “It’s nice having the chance to play with and against some of the top players my age in Canada and it will only help me moving forward.”
Grimes, who coached at the U17 tournament for four years, believes the experience has helped Langlois’ confidence coming back to major junior.
“I know a lot of players do benefit from taking a step back and playing at the U17s with other 16-year-old players,” said Grimes. “It’s an opportunity to step back and see all of your old friends and players you played against and play at your own age level.”
Not only has Langlois improved on the ice, he’s come a long way off the ice as well.
In an interview with the Cape Breton Post in June, Langlois needed a French translator in order to do an interview in English.
Today, Langlois feels comfortable with the language and was able to do an interview without any issue.
“I knew a little bit of English when I got drafted, but it was more about learning which words were correct,” said Langlois. “At the time, I wasn’t comfortable with English like I am now and I’m learning quickly.”
Langlois and the Eagles will finish their five-game homestand on Sunday when they host the Moncton Wildcats. Game time is 4 p.m. at Centre 200 in Sydney.
- Hometown: Quebec City, Que.
- Age: 16
- Position: Defence
- Team: Cape Breton Eagles (QMJHL)
- Height: 6’0”
- Weight: 172
- QMJHL Draft: Selected in the first-round, No. 17 overall, by the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles in 2019
- NHL Draft: Eligible for the 2021 draft
- 2016-17 – Quebec Cyclones (Bantam ‘AAA’) – Game Played: 1 – Goals: 0 – Assists: 0 – Points: 0
- 2017-18 – Quebec Cyclones (Bantam ‘AAA’) – Games Played: 29 – Goals: 2 – Assists: 1 – Points: 3
- 2018-19 – Quebec Cyclones (Minor Midget ‘AAA’) – Games Played: 32 – Goals: 12 – Assists: 17 – Points: 29
- 2018-19 - Séminaire St-François Blizzard (Midget ‘AAA’) – Games Played: 4 – Goals: 0 – Assists: 0 – Points: 0
- 2019-20 – Cape Breton Eagles (QMJHL) – Games Played: 21 – Goals: 0 – Assists: 1 – Points: 1