It's Day 3 of the QMJHL's annual midseason trading period, and ladies and gents, we have our first blockbuster of the season!!!
Yesterday morning, it was confirmed by Charlottetown newspaper The Guardian that the PEI Rocket have sent 20-year-old defenceman Pierre-Marc Guilbault along with long-time goaltender Ryan Mior (19 years old) to the Gatineau Olympiques in exchange for 18-year-old defenceman Benoit Gervais and Sydney-born sniper Brett Morrison (19).
In Mior, Gatineau gets that real #1 goaltender they've been in need of all season, and also picks up a very solid offensive defenceman in Guilbault, giving them another option on the powerplay (along with guys like Martin Frechette and Maxim Mallette), as well as additional depth on the defensive end. On the outs is overage goaltender Olivier Laliberte, which freed up the overage spot to be used by Guilbault.
The Olympiques lose their top centerman and one of their top scorers in Morrison, but rumour has it that star European David Kveton will be joining the team after Christmas; he would help offset the offense lost with Morrison's departure.
PEI is getting a bonafide 40-50 goal scorer in Morrison, and he'll most likely be back with them as a 20-year-old next season, the year they're looking at to make some noise. They also get a respectable defensive defenceman in Gervais (+10 so far with the Olympiques).
This looks to be a trade that will be good for both teams, and it's once again the first real blockbuster (first of many I'm betting) that we've seen this trading period.
One other wrinkle to this deal is its effect on our provincial rival, the Halifax Mooseheads. Strong rumours had the Mooseheads dealing star goaltender Jeremy Duchesne to Gatineau in exchange for a package that would include Morrison, but obviously that's not going to happen now. Will Halifax now find a taker for Duchesne? Some think that the contending Val d'or Foreurs could use a goaltending upgrade. Time will tell!
Speaking of those Foreurs, they have made a ton of noise very early on in this trade period. In the first two days alone, they picked up three forwards that they hope will play key roles in their quest for a title this year: Jerome Samson (from the Moncton Wildcats), Felix Schutz (from the Saint John Sea Dogs), and Justin Saulnier (from the Halifax Mooseheads).
It was known since last year that Samson was going to Val d'or as part of the conditional Luc Bourdon trade from last season. Samson would go to Val d'or if Bourdon returned to the Q this year, which he obviously did. He adds lots of skill, two-way play, grit, and character to the Foreurs' lineup.
Schutz, a native of Germany, is expected to add scoring depth and gives the Foreurs a second European player to go along with Slovakian Julius Sinkovic. Saulnier is slated for a third line energy role as a pesky crasher and banger who can chip in offensively a bit more than your average third line player. His attitude is the big question mark and was his downfall in Halifax, but this change of scenery may be exactly what he needs.
Val d'or can make all the moves they want, and it may turn out great for them, but this collection of talented individuals must become a TEAM if they are to win the President's Cup this year.
The Saint John Sea Dogs are the other extremely active team this trading period, as they're pretty much overhauling their team after a painful first half. GM/coach Jacques Beaulieu promised to be active during the trade period, and he wasn't kidding.
Out are Schutz, disgruntled overager Charles Bergeron (to Bathurst), Alexandre Monahan and Alexandre Labonte (to Victoriaville), and of course the much-maligned Dave Bouchard, who was kicked off of the team in a story that's been all over the news.
In are Keven Charland and Kyle Kelly (from Victo), goaltender Travis Fullerton (played with Lewiston last year but was kicked off the team this year after an off-ice incident), Bruno Desjardins and Alexandre Leduc (Val d'or), and Bathurst's 4th round pick.
The Screaming Eagles have yet to make any moves; they traditionally seem to wait until a bit later in the trading period before Pascal Vincent pulls any aces out of his sleeve. Rumours, however, are swirling around as to who may end up in a Cape Breton jersey for the second half of the season. Among the names rumoured are Matt Marquardt (Mon), Wesley Welcher (St. John's), Tyler Hawes (PEI), Beau Prokopetz (Dru), JP Paquet (Sha), and of course any contender in the league is "rumoured" to be going after Moncton's Luc Bourdon, although it would probably take a ridiculous price to fetch him.
The Eagles must add a player or two; they definitely have the high-end talent to make this year their year to take a run at the title, but they need more depth than they currently have. As of now, a couple of injuries to key players at playoff time could be lethal. However, I do not believe that Cape Breton has to go crazy and empty the cupboards, making multiple blockbuster deals and bringing in a huge slew of new players. We must not totally sacrifice the future, and adding too many players (or the wrong players) can disrupt dressing room chemistry, one of the Eagles' best assets over the past three seasons.
In this writer's opinion, two or three (at the very most) new bodies is all that the Screaming Eagles need to tweak for the second half and playoffs, as long as the guys picked up are the right fit.
Other trades around the league can be seen here: http://www.lhjmq.qc.ca/lang_en/index.php?page=1867346&id_equipe=all&start_year=2006&end_year=2007
Happy Holidays all!