Dominique Auger, the flashy Princeton defenseman who was an All-ECAC Rookie Team member last season, is seriously contemplating a jump to the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Auger, a native of Levis, Quebec, called Remparts general manager Raymond Bolduc on Saturday, saying he would like to play for the team.
According to Bolduc, he had never spoken to Auger previously.
Auger began working out with the team on Tuesday, and has been offered a contract, but has not officially signed. Stunned Princeton coaches didn’t learn of the possibility of losing Auger until Thursday morning, and are in the process of trying to contact him.
QMJHL training camp ends Sept. 15, and the regular season starts on the 17th. Princeton students are expected back in school starting next week.
Last season, Auger scored seven goals and 16 assists in 33 games, including four power-play goals.
Joining the Canadian major junior system would make Auger ineligible for further play in the NCAA; the NCAA considers the major juniors a professional operation. As a 20-year old, Auger would have just one year of eligibility left in major junior hockey, whereas he has three at Princeton.
Auger can make between $150 and $500 per week in major juniors, in addition to room and board and expenses. Bolduc also said the team has offered to give Auger a three-year scholarship to a Quebec college, assuming he doesn’t play in the pros.
Bolduc said Auger cited the desire to play more games and have a better chance at the pros as reasons for his interest in the Remparts.
“If he wants to come, that’s fine,” said Bolduc. “If he wants to play college, that’s fine. I don’t want to see Dominique come to me (next year) and say, ‘Ray, you forced me to play with your team.’ It’s his decision.”
This is a microcosm of that issue for the ages — the differences between college hockey and the juniors, and the constant struggle for U.S. colleges to compete with the major juniors for players.
“Both ways are good,” says Bolduc. “It depends on where you want to go.
“If you want to go pro, it’s the short way, you’ll play more games. That’s the problem with college. And they play with a full visor.
“But as I always say, if you are a good player, you will play pro.”
The loss of Auger would be a severe blow to Princeton, where it isn’t easy to recruit players of his caliber. Princeton coaches describe Auger as a legitimate pro prospect.
Princeton finished with a school-record-tying 18 wins last season, and was counting on returning its entire core of defensemen, and most key forwards.