“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.”
Not really if you’re a QMJHL organization in the Maritimes Division.
“It’s the most stressful time of the year.” That’s better.
The Maritimes Division continues to be the epicenter of rumours and speculation with regards to possible trades as we approach the 2019 QMJHL Trade Period. Who’s buying? Who’s selling? Who’s restocking the shelves?Who’s standing pat?
The next few weeks should be very intriguing to say the least, so here we go.
I wouldn’t want to play the Cape Breton Eagles in the first round, would you? The Eagles are struggling right now and that’s perfectly ok.
Don’t let their recent small slide cloud your judgement.
They are about three to four players away from being a strong contender.
The injury bug has bitten the Eagles hard this season, but I still wouldn’t want to face them in the playoffs.
They are built to upset.
They are built to win.
They have a deep forward group that can play any style they deem necessary.
They are very skilled on the backend as well and have enough depth to the play the match up game almost perfectly during the playoffs.
I would fear the Cape Breton Eagles if I were any other team in the Q right now.
They are the sleeper team, the team with amazing unity and team culture.
They are a team with nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Rebranded and ready to kick ass in the post season that’s the Cape Breton Eagles.
Wish List: How Far Do they Have to Go?
In my opinion, the Eagles need one more high end two-way defencemen and a one or two energy forwards that will bring more speed and jam to their bottom six.
The Cost of Doing Business:
Teams will be targeting the Eagles young defensive corps and top end 18 year old talent, I know I would.
Herd We Go Again, Sags It Ain’t So
The Halifax Moosheads have a very good hockey club and I believe they have slightly underachieved this season given their group, but you can’t control injuries and they have been truly decimated by injuries this season.
The Moosehead brain trust knows how to build a winner.
They are definitely going to be sellers in the next few weeks.
I’m hearing that their major trade partner will be Chicoutimi, but they may opt to do some business with their Provincial rivals as well.
Rest assured the Mooseheads will tear it down correctly.
They have all the key pieces that countless other teams want.
They hold all the cards, they can force the issue on a lot of teams.
They have all the pieces in place to be a solid team and turn things around very quickly.
The Rumour Mill: There’s been a lot of buzz on Patty Kyte and Alexis Gravel going to the Eagles, but that’s just strictly rumour. Right now it would also appear that Groulx and Lavoie will be joining the Sags.
Can you imagine going up against the Sags oh boy look out.
The Sags are still a few pieces away on the backend as well, but that’s neither here or there. So where’s Jared McIsaac going then?
McIsaac would probably fit every need for the Moncton Wildcats. The Cats are in need of a two-way gritty left shooting defencemen who can transition the puck with relative ease. That’s Jared McIsaac.
How much would that cost the Moncton Wildcats?
Well time will tell, but if I were the Cats I would be trying to get that deal out of the way first.
You can almost guarantee that every contending team in the QMJHL has been blowing up Russell’s phone.
If you want a lesson in how to rebuild your hockey club within a two year window, sit back and watch Cam Russell work his magic.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, that’s been the Acadie-Bathurst Titan’s season wrapped up into one line. It hasn’t been that bad or has it?
They have competed hard almost every night. It’s all part of the process.
There is one quote from Sergio Leone’s masterpiece that reminds me of the Titan’s mindset heading into this Trade Period.
It’s from the charismatic Tuco. “If you’re going to shoot shoot, don’t talk.”
Talk is cheap right now for the Titan, much like the Mooseheads they hold all the cards and they have a couple potential big pieces that contending teams may want to take a shot at.
They could probably ask a mere bounty for the likes of Shawn Element and get it.
Element is the perfect fit for many a team in the QMJHL.
Element is the quintessential playoff type performer who’s going to provide grit, sandpaper, skill, a two-way presence and scoring touch to any line up.
You see Shawn Element is the good, the bad and the ugly that teams are looking for. He provides everything for a team looking to make a long Championship run.
Some would argue the Moncton Wildcats need a “Shawn Element” type player to complete their line up and they are exactly right. What other players would the Wildcats be targeting on the Titan roster?
Well that remains to be seen, but if I were a contending team, I would be targeting Logan Chisholm and Liam Leonard.
Chisholm and Leonard provide depth, energy and amazing compete level with offensive upside.
Am I saying the Wildcats and the Titan are going to pull off a blockbuster deal?
No, but I wouldn’t bet against.
Anything can happen, but they have had a rich history with regards to trade partners. I could certainly see the Moncton Wildcats kicking tires on a few Titan players.
What about Anderson MacDonald?
MacDonald has regained his scoring touch and could fit very well on contending teams. #25 for the Titan is a pure goal scorer and those are hard to find.
I guess time will tell, but for now the Titan hold a lot of interesting assets.
It might get a little bit more ugly before the good times for the Titan, but they are well on their way.
Island of Hope
Stand pat or jump into the mix?
That’s the question confronting Jim Hulton and his staff.
The Charlottetown Islanders have been building towards something special for quite sometime, but is this the year?
The Islanders are arguably the best run and best coached team in the entire QMJHL. The Isles are right in between, but they have been battling the injury bug as well.
Actually they haven’t been battling it, it’s been like Godzilla over there this season they have been crushed by it. The Islanders can subtract or add and be just fine, because they have Matthew Welsh.
I’m not even going to talk about the Isles moving Welsh, because it’s not going to happen.
Matthew Welsh is almost untouchable.
Yes, I know anyone can be traded, but I can’t see him going anywhere.
The Islanders, once healthy are going to start putting the fear of goodness in a lot of teams. They have all the pieces to be a team that upsets.
I know I wouldn’t want to play them in the playoffs, would you?
They do have a few pieces they could move if they wanted to, but I see them kind of standing pat, but you never know.
Stranger things have happened, but you can almost guarantee Jim Hulton and his staff doing everything the right way.
The Charlottetown Islanders are a class act, they do it the right way, every time out. However, if I were a contending team that needed help on the backend I would be kicking tires on Xavier Bernard.
Bernard has had a very strong season, and could slide into a four, five or six role very well on any contending team. I hate to say it, but he’s an “X” factor for many teams.
If I were the Moncton Wildcats or the Rimouski Oceanic, I would have Jim Hulton on speed dial.
I Haven’t Got the Slightest
I really don’t have the slightest clue what the Saint John Sea Dogs are planning to do going into the Trade Period.
What would you do?
Obviously, they are going to try to move their great captain Nicolas Guay to a contender, but after that they are probably going to stand pat.
Guay’s impact on the young core in the Port City has been truly immeasurable.
Guay has brought creditability, professionalism and accountability to that room.
If I’m a contending team or a team looking to build I would also be targeting Aiden MacIntosh. MacIntosh hasn’t had the opportunity to play and has been buried on the Dogs 4th line. He could bring much needed depth and character to any organization.
Aiden MacIntosh is all heart and soul!
The Dogs have all the pieces in place, to continue to build a championship caliber team in the years to come. There’s great promise in the Port City, but there is a definite feel that the organization will have to start delivering on that promise very soon.
Wish List: It might sound sarcastic, but if I’m the Sea Dogs, I only have three wishes 1) Acquire high quality assets for the Nicolas Guay trade 2) Have more than 3,000 people at home games during the second half of the season. 3) Make the Playoffs.
A Wild Few Weeks
It’s been a “Wild” few weeks for the Moncton Wildcats. That trend will continue as they lead up to the Trade Period.
Obviously, the Cats will be in a lot of different players.
I’m not going to comment on what the Cats are going through right now off the ice, all I know is they are probably three to four pieces away from being an outstanding hockey club, built to win it all. Time will tell.
Wish List: If I were the Cats, I would be probably target the following players and maybe a few of the following goaltenders if they decide to go that route and possibly trade Charles Antoine Lavallee for a more veteran presence to back up Olivier Rodrigue.
Shawn Element, Gabriel Fortier, Liam Leonard, Jared McIsaac, Samuel Bolduc, Zachary Emond and Jonathan Lemieux.
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year.” Not really if you’re a QMJHL organization in the Maritimes Division. It’s the most stressful time of the year.