The QMJHL was a beehive of activity on Friday as the annual trading period came to a close at Noon Eastern time. When it was all said and done there were a total of 20 trades on the final day of dealing involving 32 players and 31 draft picks.
Some of the biggest names involved included Canadian World Junior stars Pierre-Luc-Dubois who departed Cape Breton for Blainville-Boisbriand and Julian Gauthier who went from Val d’Or to the Saint John Sea Dogs. Both the Armada and Sea Dogs are among a group of teams fighting atop the league standings.
The Charlottetown Islanders made a major statement by bringing in proven veterans like Alex Dostie, Francois Beauchemin and Nicolas Meloche among others as part of their eight deals since the trading period opened in late December.
“I was really surprised with the amount of teams that were actively trading and acquiring players. There were some blockbuster deals,” said Mooseheads General Manager Cam Russell.
Russell was a busy man himself, especially over the last 24 hours as he drastically changed the look of the Mooseheads roster.
The Herd were involved in four separate deals since Thursday afternoon and five in total going back to the addition of goaltender Blade Mann-Dixon on December 22nd.
Halifax added a pair of overage players in defenceman Frederic Aube and forward Jake Coughler while grabbing a first round pick in 2018 from Rouyn-Noranda in a swap for Taylor Ford. Bradley Kennedy netted a ninth round pick in 2018 from the Wildcats while 20-year-old Anthony Sorrentino was released.
“We set out to do a couple of different things. We wanted to make sure that we improved our hockey team which I think we did and we helped the team moving forward,” Russell said.
The GM felt that he was able to provide upgrades at all three positions during the trade period by bolstering the goaltending and bringing in a couple of quality veterans on defence and at forward.
“Bringing in those overagers will help stabilize things to an extent. It’s always difficult to part with some of the players but I think right now we are a little bit more skilled and a little bit more gritty.”
One of the more difficult players for Russell to part with was Captain Taylor Ford, whom the Mooseheads drafted in the second round, 38th overall in 2013. The General Manager points out that he was simply the recipient of a great offer by Rouyn-Noranda.
“We weren’t looking to move him at all but when we saw the opportunity to add a third pick in the 2018 first round it turned out to be a deal that we couldn’t say no to.”
The Mooseheads are now in the fortunate position of holding those three first round picks which will help Russell as he builds the team up for the 2018-19 season when the club hopes to be a contender for the Memorial Cup.
“Having all our draft picks and having the surplus in 2018 it gives you options to draft other top end players or to move those picks for established players.”
With the roster now set for the rest of the season the Mooseheads can focus on making a little bit of noise in the 2017 President Cup Playoffs this spring. With the likes of Nico Hischier and Max Fortier leading the way and the veteran additions made today it’s a safe bet that Halifax is a team that other clubs would rather not have to face in the opening round.