Making Mooseheads History
The Halifax Mooseheads have a very real chance to hear the franchise name called three times in the first round of the NHL Entry Draft in Dallas this Friday night. That’s never happened before for the Mooseheads organization which is entering its 25th season in the QMJHL.
The team has had multiple first round picks twice before including most recently when Nathan MacKinnon went first overall to Colorado in 2013 while Jonathan Drouin was selected two picks later at number three by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The first time the Mooseheads had a pair of players taken in the opening round of the NHL Entry Draft was in 2007 when Columbus picked Jakub Voracek seventh overall and the Anaheim Ducks took Logan MacMillan 19th.
The NHL Entry Draft begins at 8:30pm AST this Friday night from American Airlines Centre and can be seen on Sportsnet and TVAS. Rounds 2-7 will be held Saturday starting at Noon AST.
Filip Zadina (3rd ranked North American skater), Jared McIsaac (13th ranked North American skater) and Benoit-Olivier Groulx (20th ranked North American skater) are the first round hopefuls for Halifax and each bring something different to the table.
Zadina, the Czech Republic native, torched the league for 44 goals and 82 points in his first year on North American ice en route to winning the Mike Bossy Trophy as the QMJHL’s Top Professional Prospect. Fans in Halifax were treated to an exciting performance throughout the year as only seven players in team history scored more goals in one season than Zadina did, while only Ladislav Nagy (71) and Nikolaj Ehlers (49) had more as a rookie. The hard worker with an NHL-ready shot tied the team record for most goals in one away game when he lit the lamp four times in Charlottetown in early February.
Jared McIsaac has been on the radar since a Halifax made the blueliner the second overall pick in the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft. He possesses the skills to quarterback a power play while playing responsible defensively and can dish out some heavy hits which keeps opponents on their toes. He has logged a lot of minutes in his fist two seasons with the Mooseheads and is on the ice against the opposing teams’ top veterans more often than not. That’s not common practice for most 17-year-old defencemen in the CHL. McIsaac is poised to become the first Nova Scotian defenceman selected in the first round of the NHL Draft since Al MacInnis and Paul Boutilier were picked in 1981’s opening round. The Truro, NS native led the team in scoring by a defenceman with 47 points (9 goals 38 assists) in 2017-18 which included 21 points via the power play.
Benoit-Olivier Groulx will make a fine addition to whatever team chooses him. His hockey intelligence is among the best at his age while his fundamental abilities help set him apart from others. Scouts say Groulx is tough to play against and battles hard. The center was taken by the Mooseheads with the top pick in the 2016 QMJHL Entry Draft and has scored 86 points in 130 games since. He is a left-handed shot and has good size at 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds. He has steadily improved in all areas and was a key player in the postseason with eight points in nine games.
Not to be forgotten is Mooseheads goalie Alex Gravel. While he won’t be selected in the first round, he is the third ranked North American goalie in the draft and gives Halifax a quartet of players that are expected to be drafted. Gravel has seen plenty of time between the pipes in his 16 and 17-year-old seasons which will be valuable experience heading into the Memorial Cup hosting season in Halifax. The Asbestos, QC native has a career 37-45 record with a 3.37 goals against average and an .892 save percentage.
The Mooseheads last had four players selected at the NHL Draft in 2013 when Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Zach Fucale and MacKenzie Weegar were all picked. The most Halifax players taken in one draft was six back in 2003.
The London Knights were the last CHL team to have three players taken in the first round of the NHL Draft in 2016 when defenceman Olli Juolevi went fifth to Vancouver, forward Matthew Tkachuk was taken sixth by Calgary and forward Max Jones went 24th to Anaheim. The Knights also had a trio picked in the 2013 first round (Bo Horvat – Vancouver – ninth), (Max Domi – Arizona – 12th) and (Nikita Zadorov – Buffalo – 16th).
Mooseheads 2018-19 Season Ticket Memberships are on sale now at the Ticket Atlantic Box Office, TicketAtlantic.com, the Official Mooseheads Shop in Scotia Square or by calling 451-1221.
New 15 Game Packs will go on sale in September. The on-sale date for Individual Tickets will be released later this summer.