Could Pierre-Olivier Joseph have had a better offseason?
Coming off of a strong 2016-2017 season, Joseph was selected in the first round, 23rd overall, by the Arizona Coyotes in the 2017 NHL Draft. He experienced all the highs that came along with being anointed a top prospect; participating in the Coyotes numerous training camps, making press appearances for the team, even throwing out the ceremonial first pitch at an Arizona Diamondbacks game.
When he eventually came back to Charlottetown for the season, the excitement didn’t stop, He was promptly named team captain following the departure of Guillaume Brisebois, signaling a changing of the guards and a new chapter for PEI’s major junior team.
Joseph got off to a hot start immediately following his return from Coyotes training camp, scoring 2 goals and 10 points in his first 13 games, including two 3-point games. His strong play continued through the month of November, with another nine points in nine games.
Not only was Joseph racking up points, he was contributing when it mattered most. One of those times came in late November against the Halifax Mooseheads. In one of the many memorable moments of the season, Joseph snuck in from the point and potted the game-tying goal with seven seconds remaining in regulation. Nikita Alexandrov finished things up in overtime, and the Islanders stole a victory from the Moose, a precursor of things to come.
Joseph’s early season success certainly didn’t go unnoticed, as he was selected to represent Team QMJHL at the 2017 CIBC Canada-Russia Series. On top of that, he was named an assistant captain for the two-game series, a resounding statement that his leadership skills extended beyond the four walls of the Islanders dressing room.
As 2018 began, Joseph continued his strong play, putting more focus on the defensive side of the puck. He looked more engaged in the corners and brought a physical element to his game that hadn’t been seen before.
He rediscovered that offensive game in February, finishing the month with 4 goals and 11 points in 13 games. By the end of the season, Joseph would set career highs in goals and points. His 13 goals more than doubled his total from the year before, showcasing the step forward that his offensive game took this year.
That offensive game continued to show up in the playoffs, as Joseph finished his playoff run with 12 points in 18 games. His lone goal was a game-winner, as he potted the go-ahead goal in Game 3 of the Islanders Round 2 series against the Mooseheads.
Pierre-Olivier Joseph was the straw that stirred the drink on defense for the Islanders this past season. Combined with running mate Saku Vesterinen, the duo made up one of the more offensively powered defensive pairings in all of the QMJHL. Look for Joseph to continue to showcase why he’s a premiere defender in the league this year!