The shelves were about to be restocked, well sort of.
The Moncton Wildcats were gunning for the 1st overall pick in 2017 and a chance to build a championship contender the right way through the QMJHL Draft.
That was the plan, or “the process.”
The agony of junior hockey’s dreaded cycle and a unprecedented rebuild was going to hit the franchise and their fans like never before.
The 2016-2017 Moncton Wildcats were “that” team and organization that off loaded everything in hopes of building a championship contender in three short years.
Obviously, the Wildcats were well on their way for a long playoff run and perhaps two championships this season until the horrific COVID-19 pandemic cancelled the remainder of the season.
It was a long road back to respectability for the Wildcats.
What’s next for the Cats?
How bad will this rebuild be?
Time will tell, but it’s clear they have the foundation to build another winning team very soon.
You see the foundation of the Moncton Wildcats rebuild consists of two cornerstone players, Jakob Pelletier and Jordan Spence.
One doesn’t have to look too far to understand the prolific haul a franchise can receive for an elite level forward and defenceman.
This season’s blockbuster trade with arch rival Halifax Mooseheads for Benoit Olivier Groulx and Jared McIssac will be exactly what the Wildcats are targeting in return for Pelletier and Spence.
That’s pretty damn significant if you think about it.
The Wildcats have arguably the best forward and best defenceman in the QMJHL on the trading block come Q Trade Period.
Perhaps the worst kept secret in the Hub City right now is the return for that deal with the Mooseheads.
Everyone knows the two players going the other way and one can also assume/speculate a plethora of picks are coming back to the Wildcats.
The foundation is firmly set in place for the Wildcats to move forward and build a contender in the up coming years.
Pelletier and Spence’s Wildcats legacy will continue to positively impact the organization for years to come.
Gone are the days of trying to land the high profile elite level American player. The Wildcats under Ritchie Thibeau and his scouting staff have built an excellent draft and developmental model similar to other organizations in the upper echelon of the QMJHL and Canadian Hockey League.
The Cats will target high end free agents and will have to land two impact imports over the next few seasons.
The Wildcats also have several prospects that will be pushing for roster spots next season.
The one variable confronting the Wildcats is the sense of the unknown.
Who knows what or when the QMJHL trade period will be?
The Cats could elect to move Pelletier and Spence at the draft, but the return would be substantially lower at that point than at the trade period to a contending team.
Who will be the contending teams in the QMJHL next season? Stay tuned for an article coming soon on that topic.
Who would the Wildcats target as possible return for Pelletier and Spence and would they be content in only acquiring draft picks or the combinations of both picks or young impact players?
Critics would suggest that the optics of this years “all in” mentality, have crippled the Cats hopes of returning to a championship caliber team grim at best.
At this point the Wildcats will have some obstacles and will have to endure some tough nights, but they are undoubtedly in a lot better position to rebuild than they were in 2016-2017.
Contrary to belief the Moncton Wildcats hold all the right cards right now, it’s how they are going to go about using them that will be the most intriguing.
Trading Jakob Pelletier and Jordan Spence should be the equivalent to eight pieces, eight future Wildcats via the draft or two to four impact players?
Time will tell, but the foundation of rebuild is intact for the Moncton Wildcats.