For Cam Russell and the Halifax Mooseheads front office staff, there isn’t much time to reflect on an incredible season that came to an end on Sunday in the Memorial Cup Final. The General Manager must quickly turn his attention to next season and how his team will shape up for 2019-20 and that all begins with the QMJHL Entry Draft on Saturday, June 8th in Quebec City.
The cupboards are more empty than most years in terms of the draft picks currently held by Russell and the scouting staff after many were traded off to help build a Memorial Cup contender. The Mooseheads, who finished in first place in the Eastern Conference are without picks in the first, second and third rounds but own all of their selections between the fourth and fourteenth rounds.
Russell has plenty of decisions to make with a plethora of 1999 born players eligible to return, 12 of them in fact, and only three open spots for that age group which will be considered the overage 20-year-olds next season in the QMJHL. 1999 born forwards include; Arnaud Durandeau, Antoine Morand, Maxim Trepanier, Joel Bishop, Ostap Safin, Ben Higgins and Brock McLeod. The defencemen born in 1999 are Jocktan Chainey, Patrick Kyte, Walter Flower, Denis Toner and Alexis Sansfacon. Of course, there is a chance that some of those players will play professionally next season and the situation could become even more clear with the next QMJHL trading period beginning on Friday, June 7th.
UPDATE: The New York Islanders have signed Arnaud Durandeau to a three-year entry-level contract.
Halifax has all the makings for another successful season and the core will be built around veterans Benoit-Olivier Groulx, Raphael Lavoie, Jared McIsaac, Alex Gravel and many others.
In the system the Mooseheads have young 2018 drafted players hoping to step in and make an impact next season. Leading the way will be first round pick Samuel Dube who saw limited ice-time in 2018-19 but gained valuable experience being with the team and taking part in the long playoff run. Other forwards like Sonny Kabatay and Nathan MacMillan developed well in the NSMMHL while goalies Simon Bucheler and Jonathan Pickrem will hope to make a statement when training camp opens in August. Kyle Petten and Cole Stewart will be entering their 18-year-old seasons and are being counted on as regulars in the lineup.
The Mooseheads’ European roster spots are held by Ostap Safin and Marcel Barinka while picks 48 and 108 are available to the team in the CHL Import Draft in the final week of June should they choose to use them.
The QMJHL recently released the 2019-20 schedule which for the Mooseheads will kick off on the road on Friday, September 21st against Saint John while the Home Opener is set for Friday, September 27th versus Charlottetown. The preseason begins on Sunday, August 18th at the Dartmouth Sportsplex against Cape Breton.
Returning Season Ticket Members and 15-Game Pack Holders have until June 28th to renew their seats while new Season Ticket Members can purchase beginning Friday, June 7th through the Season Ticket Office located at the Official Mooseheads Shop in Scotia Square Mall. New 15-Game Packs will be available starting on Thursday, August 1st.