The Maritimes Division continues to be the epicenter of speculation with regards to possible trades as we approach the 2021 QMJHL Trade Period. Who’s buying? Who’s selling? Who’s restocking the shelves? Who’s standing pat and why?
The next few weeks should be very intriguing to say the least, so here we go.
Let me start by saying, I haven’t heard a thing, not one trade rumour.
Maybe I’m not digging enough, but to be brutally honest, there’s bigger fish to fry right now. The onslaught of COVID has definitely taken a toll on everyone, but there’s no question QMJHL GM’s are talking.
You see with all the stress and pressure around building a potential President Cup champion or retooling their hockey club for the future, GM’s across the circuit have no other choice to keep plugging away, because ultimately their jobs might very well be on the line.
You see this time of year is incredible difficult for everyone involved, but extremely difficult for the kids, we can never lose sight of that.
One could predict that movement will come quicker than normal or as soon as the trade period opens because teams will want to have their team’s second half roster solidified given the surge of COVID-19 yet again. It’s going to be very interesting to see how the league will handle the return to play procedures after the Christmas break. With that all being said, the Maritimes Division is never short on storylines around trade period.
Two years back the Cape Breton Eagles were feared heading into the playoffs, they were a danger team that absolutely no one wanted to face. We all know how that ended. Unfortunately, like many teams that loaded up that season the Eagles has to start a rebuild yet again.
Jr Hockey’s vicious cycle hasn’t been kind to the Eagles, the organization has drafted well as of late and continue to fine tune things from a player personnel perspective, but the search for a new coach definitely makes this Trade Period even more intriguing.
The Eagles have a solid pipeline of prospects that some organizations might target. I can’t see the Eagles being overly active, but some teams might come calling for a few players. The Eagles brain trust can’t afford to make mistakes right now and I’m sure they won’t. They might be on the downward side of the rebuild, but the Eagles will be just fine in another year.
The core leadership group is in place, coupled with some great young talent. Depending on the direction they go, we might see some of that talent in the lineup after Christmas.
Patience is the Key in Wildcat Land
Ritchie Thibeau always has something up his sleeve.
The Moncton Wildcats are definitely surprising teams and the league with their inspiring play last season and this year, but could that be hurting their plans? Obviously, winning never hurts, but what direction are the Cats going to take this Trade Period. Well one could speculate a very patient approach is needed right now. The Cats brain trust are always looking to add prospects and assets.
The Cats have drafted very well and the move to acquire Brooklyn Kalmikov was great, but do the Wildcats have enough young skilled scoring talent in their pipeline?
Thibeau’s squad have depth galore on the backend, so much so they have been playing defencemen up front at times. There’s no question there’s a plan in place, and it’s a good plan, but right now it’s imperative that the Cats get things right. The Cats are a tremendously hard-working team, but the real question now is what type of team do they want to be in the second half and beyond?
We have seen it in the past that the organization’s desire to be competitive in the present have drastically hindered their future success. I can’t see that happening on Thibeau’s watch. He knows exactly what he wants in the Cats in two years, and that’s a championship caliber team. Clearly, they have the pieces on the backend and between the pipes, but what about up front?
The Cats largest trade piece was Philippe Daoust and he signed a much deserved AHL contract. So, what assets do the Moncton Wildcats have to offer? Well, I guess that remains to be seen. What are the Moncton Wildcats? What’s their identity? What’s their identity going to be moving forward? Are the Cats brain trust happy with their young backend? How are they going to address their lack of scoring punch?
All valid questions, that I’m sure Thibeau and his staff have the answers for. Time will tell.
Right Where They Want to Be
The Halifax Mooseheads have done it again. They are right where they want to be. Cam Russell and his staff have all the makings of a championship caliber team. When the Herd rebuild they do it right. Russell is perfect position to continue to refine and retool his roster. Russell and the rest of Mooseheads’ brain trust have all the cards, they have some fantastic assets right now that teams will definitely be targeting, but like always they control the asking price and let’s just put it this way, it will be astronomical.
Obviously, some teams will be targeting Elliot Desnoyers, for their championship run, it will be very interesting to see if they move him. I guess it’s all in the Philadelphia Flyers organizations hands now. Desnoyers will be 20 years old next year and will no doubt be in the AHL. At this point I can’t see Desnoyers returning to the QMJHL, so he could well be on the move. Clearly, we will have to wait on this one due to the World Juniors, but “Desy” definitely deserves to play for a President Cup given his extraordinary path in the game and QMJHL. It’s truly fascinating to see the Mooseheads continue to work junior hockey’s cycle to perfection. “The been there and done it” mentality is always in full effect in “Moose Country.”
What if “Desy” and the Flyers elect to keep him in the Q, well, the Mooseheads could in fact be close to contending next season.
The Isles Way
Jim Hulton and his staff have built a championship contender the last few seasons. The Islanders will always boast a hard-working mentality, but they have all the offensive weapons now to go all the way. The Isles also boast one of the best defensive units in the entire league. At this point one could assume Hulton would be looking for even more scoring depth up front, but realistically that’s about it. Hulton and his staff have done it the right way, they have all the characteristics of President Cup championship caliber team, all they need now are their star players to step up and contribute at the right times and we could be seeing the Islanders and the Sea Dogs at the Memorial Cup.
Don’t Forget About the Titan!
The Acadie-Bathurst Titan are close, in fact they’re really close when it comes to a championship caliber team. Offensive depth is the one issue confronting the Titan that no doubt will be addressed in the upcoming weeks. Recently the Titan have signed a few free agents. They have been older, which indicates that they are loading up and focusing on their depth. The Titan backend is very good and if healthy can really do some damage. There’s no question the Titan brain trust know how to build a winner, now they just have to ensure that they have enough depth in all areas to make support an exceptional top six forward group. I have funny feeling the Titan will be extremely active come the trade period and will try to go over the top similar to what happened in 2017.
Memorial Cup Ready?
Are the Saint John Sea Dogs Memorial Cup ready? That’s a great question. I’m sure if you ask their brain trust they would say yes, and they might be right.
There’s no question on paper the Dogs have a very solid team, a championship caliber team, nevertheless, it’s all about playing as a group and playing with character and pride in all three zones. There’s no question the Sea Dogs have underperformed this season. Everything is new once again for a core group of players have seen a lot coaches come and go. Gordie Dwyer will have his group more than prepared when the time comes, but for now Trevor Georgie might still be looking to add some older or more experienced depth in their bottom six and quite possibly be looking to make a big splash on the backend. Either way, the Dogs have more than enough assets to move to start their rebuild after this season so they can still go out and acquire really any player that they might be targeting. The Memorial Cup hosts are guaranteed to be there, it’s a just matter of them finally buying in and playing with character and skill when all the chips are down. If the Saint John Sea Dogs can find a way to play as a group and share the wealth so to speak, they will be very dangerous.